Speedy meals are life savers in a busy house with kids. Speedy meals that are as full of flavor and as simple to prepare as pad kaprow are gems that get added to the meal rotation over and over again. This version has been repeated and edited for years now, and the original was from a Thai restaurant I used to visit often with my coworkers in South San Francisco, Thai Stick. My friend Erik would always sit down with the menu we'd seen for years (no exaggeration) and ask the table, "What's that thing I like?" Pad kaprow was his order every single time. He would get his extra spicy and add a fried egg, and maybe he's still doing it this way!
Pad kaprow can be made with ground pork, chicken, or turkey. I think it is best with pork, but it gets made with turkey pretty often around here. It's also best with Thai basil, but in the Midwest that's hard to come by consistently. We grow Thai basil in the summer months, but often substitute Italian basil when we make it the rest of the year. As long as you are using fresh basil, and lots of it, it works in this dish. I make no claims of authenticity!
Speaking of authenticity, it took me a long time to get the flavor of the sauce to be just how I remembered it. Once I discovered that it was so much better with fish sauce instead of all soy sauce, I slowly changed the recipe over time until this current version where there is no soy sauce in it at all. If you aren't a fish sauce fan, please reconsider. It's the magic that makes so many recipes taste so much better instantly. I go through large bottles of the stuff every other month or so. In a recipe, it really isn't fishy; it adds more of a salinity and umami flavor that is different from any other ingredient I use. In the recipe below, try it as written and if you find it to be too salty you can swap a tablespoon of the fish sauce for water to lighten up the flavor.
Once the ingredients are assembled, this dish cooks up so quickly. Get your rice cooked before you even start, or you'll be eating it out of the frying pan without rice at all! You can skip the fried egg, but I can never eat it without and I think of my friend Erik every time. Comment below and let me know what you think!
- ¼ cup fish sauce
- 2 tablespoon water
- 2 tablespoon brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon corn starch
- 1 tablespoon sambal oelek (optional)
Stir Fry Components
- 1 to 1½ pounds ground pork, turkey, or chicken
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 cup basil, roughly chopped (Thai basil is preferred)
- 4 large eggs
- 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
- Mix all sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.
- Heat two large frying pans over medium-high heat.
- In one pan, add ground meat and break it up into small pieces. Continue to cook until all of the liquid evaporates and the meat is browned.
- Add garlic and red pepper to the meat and continue to stir fry.
- Once the peppers and garlic are cooking away, add the oil to the second frying pan. Swirl to coat the bottom and crack the eggs into the pan. Cover the pan.
- To the meat and peppers, add the sauce and basil. Continue to stir fry a couple more minutes, or until the eggs are cooked to your liking.
- Spoon the meat mixture over rice and top with a fried egg. Serve immediately.
Nutrition facts are sometimes provided below and are calculated using an online calculator. With specific brands of ingredients and additions, omissions, or substitutions the nutrition facts may change. We encourage you to use your own nutrition facts caculator to obtain the most accurate nutrition facts for your meal.