Any foreigner (aka “Farang” to the Thais) who has been to Thailand and likes to experiment with the local cuisine would recognize the local dish called “Pad ka-prow”. It consists of a choice of meat stir-fried with garlic, chilies and the leading actor here, Mr. Ka-prow, or holy basil. If hamburgers and hot dogs are the most popular fast food items in the US., in Thailand Pad ka-prow and Tod kra-tiam prik-tai (fried meat with garlic and pepper) over rice are equivalent to hamburgers and hot dogs.
I have to admit that I’m a little hesitant to blog about this dish due to that aspect. You don’t see food bloggers blogging about hamburgers or hot dogs that often, right? Pad ka-prow is so plain, such a common Thai dish, you can get it on every street corner, in restaurants, and at any fast food court in Thailand, though the dish is rarely seen in the gourmet restaurants. I never would have thought to blog about this dish if it weren’t for all the requests for this recipe from so many friends. Come to think of it, there are some Thai food bloggers who have blogged about hamburgers, hot dogs, and even grilled cheese sandwiches too. Funny isn’t it, that the plain and basic dishes of one culture become mysterious in others.
Okay, you knew already about pad ka-prow, but why is it “exploding”? I simply translated from the Thai dish named “Kao Kai Ra-berd”, which means “rice with exploded egg”. I heard the term back in the late 80’s. I don’t recall the existence of the name before that time. It refers to a plate full of rice, topped with very spicy (you can see a lot of crushed chili pods) ground pork pad ka-prow with a fried egg on top of everything. The dish is usually served with Sriracha chili sauce instead of the standard “nam-pla-prik” (a lot of chilies soaked in fish sauce and lime juice). Since then the term has caught fire and the dish has been listed on the top 5 of the national favorite dishes.
Holy Basil isn’t that easy to come by outside Thailand. I’m lucky. I live in SoCal, a fairly short driving distance from a Thai market in Hollywood. I can get it there. The drawback about buying holy basil from the market is, it doesn’t last very long–about 2 days max. The best way I found to get basil is to grow your own. I usually have it in my backyard in summer if my nursery can get it for me. This year I’ve got seeds sent from a friend who grew a lot of it in South Carolina, and I’m planning to grow it from the seeds. (There’s no guarantee that it will grow or I would know how to grow it properly either…haha).
Alright, ’nuff said. Here is the recipe.
Ingredients: (for 2 people)
Ground Bison about 8-10 oz. (1 cup)
Holy Basil 1 bunch (pick off all the leaves and discard the stems)
Chopped fresh Chili pods as much as you can eat/handle/tolerate
Vegetable oil 1 tablespoon + 1/4 cup
Chopped garlic 1 tablespoon
Dark soy sauce
Flavored soy sauce (I use the mushroom flavor, Healthy Boy brand. Golden mountain or Maggie also give a nice flavor)
2 fresh eggs
1) (optional) Marinate the meat with oyster sauce, flavored soy sauce, dark soy sauce and sugar, and leave in the refrigerator over night. This process makes the meat taste so much better and will leave much less juice in the wok.
2) Pile the cooked rice on two plates. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in the wok, set it over high heat (and don’t forget to turn your exhaust fan on!)
3) Add the garlic and chili pods. Between sneezes stir the content until the garlic is nearly golden. Wipe your eyes if you can’t see. Then add the bison meat. Stir very quickly to break up all the ground meat, then add fish sauce, just a splash or two. Once the meat is half cooked, taste to see if it needs any more of the condiments. If it does, then add them to suit yourself. By the way, dark soy sauce is more for color than saltiness, so use fish sauce, flavored soy sauce or salt if you need more flavor.
4) Cook the meat until it cooked through or to your preference, turn off the stove, then add the basil leaves and fold the meat over them until they’re wilted.
5) Put the bison ka-prow over the rice, wipe the wok quickly or just simply pour out all the liquid and contents and put it back on the stove. Do NOT clean the wok thoroughly. We’re trying to preserve the burnt wok smell here.
6) Add 1/4 cup vegetable oil in the wok, set it to the high heat again, wait until the oil starts to give some smoke, then add one egg. It’s going to sizzle and splash a lot, so be prepared. Wait until the rim of the egg white turns brown, then splash the top of the egg (it should be clear so you can see the egg yolk) with hot oil a few times just to cook the egg white over the yolk a little. Then put it on top of the bison ka-prow. Now do the other egg for the second serving.
7) Squeeze Sriracha sauce over the egg and don’t forget to break the yolk before you EAT!
8) Feel sad a little when you start to see the bottom of the plate but can’t stop.
9) Look forward to eating more Exploding Pad Ka-prow in the very, very, extremely near future.
If you can follow everything from 1 − 9, then you have graduated into a real fan. Congrats!