This is one of my favourite dishes. It’s my comfort food and so easy to put together. The success of this dish lies in a good, hot wok and getting all your ingredients prepared before you start cooking. While you could easily substitute the beef with pork, chicken or prawns, the unique flavour of holy basil is imperative here so it's worth seeking out.






Skill level

Average: 3.3 (83 votes)


  • 1 tbsp peeled garlic cloves
  • 4-10 green bird’s eye chillies (scuds), to taste
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 100 g coarsely minced beef with a nice bite of fat and tendon for texture
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • large pinch of white sugar
  • large handful of holy basil leaves, including any buds
  • steamed jasmine rice and 2 fried eggs, to serve


Nahm plaa prik

  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 3-6 green or red bird’s eye chillies (scuds), thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


To make the nahm plaa prik, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Coarsely pound the garlic, chillies and salt in a mortar and pestle.

Heat a wok over a very high heat. Add the oil, then fry the garlic and chilli paste for a moment or just until fragrant. Add the minced meat and stir-fry for one minute or until just browned. Add 60 ml (¼ cup) water and simmer for a moment, then season with the fish sauce and sugar. Be careful not to make it too salty. Stir in the holy basil then check the seasoning. It should taste rich, hot, salty and spicy with the basil. Serve with plenty of steamed rice, a fried egg or two and a bowl of nahm plaa prik.