Over the recent Chinese New Year holiday, Peter and I went on a lovely trip to Krabi, Thailand as part of a belated birthday celebration for me. We spent 5 days swimming and snorkeling, relaxing and reading, drinking and dining.
It was just what the doctor ordered after a week with the flu in the recently dreary Hong Kong weather, don’t ya think?
Every day we had full breakfasts, lunches, dinners, second dinners, and snacks in between. Since Peter and I both love spicy foods, we are big fans of Thai cuisine. Although I’ll admit that even though we ordered many dishes to be “medium spicy” or a level 6 on a scale of 1-10, the food was hot, hot, hot.
The Thais sure can handle their chilies!
We tried curries and noodles and satay and plenty of seafood alongside fresh coconuts. But over the course of the vacation we must have had stir fried minced pork with holy basil at least 3 or 4 times. It is one of my favorite Thai dishes so we tried it from multiple restaurants and from a local market vendor at the town night market.
While there were small differences between each of the pork with holy basil dishes we tried, they all shared the same spice from fresh chilies and holy basil.
Unlike the basil you normally use in Mediterranean cooking which is sweet, holy basil is peppery and adds a distinct flavor to many Southeast Asian dishes. You can find the fresh leaves at a Thai or Asian grocery if you are in the US. If you are here in Hong Kong you can find it at the Thai shops in the local wet markets.
To recreate this dish at home you will only need a few ingredients — many of which you likely have in your kitchen already. There is little prep work and the dish cooks up quickly so if you start to cook a pot of rice at the same time, they will both be ready to serve up in 15-20 minutes.
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 3 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp palm sugar (substitute brown sugar)
- 1 tbsp oil
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1-2 bird's eye chilies (finely chopped)
- 1 lb minced pork
- 1 large handful holy basil
- In a large bowl, combine fish sauce, soy sauce, water, and sugar
- Heat oil over medium heat in a large pan
- Add garlic, stirring until a light golden brown
- Toss in chilies, continuing to cook until fragrant
- Stir in pork
- When pork is nearly cooked, add in sauce mixture
- After pork is cooked through, add in holy basil and mix well
- Serve hot with rice