Updated 6-January-2013 I found real, proper grapow leaves!! The above pic is my first ever true kra-pao! I found these at Fresh World supermarket in Springfield, Virginia. Click this link to hop over to their site.
- 1.5 pounds of chicken breast or lean pork, chopped finely but not so fine as to be “ground”
- 3/4 pound green beans (or long beans) sliced about 1/4 to 3/8 inch in width
- 4-6 cloves garlic, smashed then chopped
- 4 (or more) mouse poop chilies พริกขี้หนู (or cayenne, or bird’s eye chilies), finely chopped or pounded. I usually use around 10.
- 4 Finger chilies, sliced on the bias (optional, and you could use Serrano peppers, but they are much hotter than finger chilies)
- 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce (see photo below)
- I tablespoon Thai seasoned soy sauce (Golden Mountain or Maggie Seasoning Sauce)
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons water (or stock)
- 1-2 tablespoon sugar (depending on how sweet you like your grapow)
- 1 handful of krapow leaves, if you can find them, or use Thai basil or even Italian sweet basil if grapow cannot be found. See note on grapow leaves and other fresh herb storage at the bottom of this post.
Quick note on pronunciation. The most common spelling of this is pad krapow, but it is not pronounced that way. In North American English we would say it “Paht Grah-pow”. The most common Thai transliteration system uses a “K” for the “G” sound and “Kh” for the hard “K” sound. If that doesn’t make sense, then you must acquit. (Sorry, South Park moment).Prepare all your ingredients before starting to cook. The cooking part is only going to take a few minutes so everything needs to be ready to go. Combine the dark soy, seasoned soy (Golden Mountain or Maggi), fish sauce, water and sugar in a cup or bowl and make sure it’s all mixed together.
Next heat your wok or frying pan. Add some oil and wait until it’s just smoking. Add the garlic and chopped mouse poop chilies if using them. Stir like crazy for 10-30 seconds or so until the garlic just starts to brown. Do not burn the garlic! Next add the chopped meat and stir a little to stop the garlic browning. Fry for one minute before adding the green beans, stir and cook until the meat is almost done. Should only take a few minutes. Next add the Serrano chilies and fry for a minute. Now add two-thirds of the mixed together sauce and let it cook for a minute. If it looks like you will need more sauce, add the remaining. Once it’s cooked for one minute add the basil leaves (whole) and stir for 15 seconds. Cut the gas or removed from an electric burner and stir for another 30 seconds or so until the basil is completely wilted.
Here’s an awesome video of how they make it in Thailand.
Krapow and Other Leaf Herb Storage
I want to talk about my method for storing herb leaves like basil, cilantro, parsley, mint. I have successfully kept cilantro and flat-leaf parsley fresh in my fridge for 3 weeks and regular basil for 2 weeks using this method.
It’s simple. After purchasing herbs, you have to get them dry. If they have been sprayed with water, I lay them out, single layer best I can, on paper towels and cover them with another paper towel and I very gently press the top paper towel to try to get as much water out as I can. If they are dry-ish I lay them out on cooling racks for 10-15 minutes to get as much moisture out before storing.
I then a roll of paper towels and bring out about two sheets (without separating those sheets from the roll), on the first sheet I put a layer of herbs down. Then I bring the second sheet over the first and put a layer of herbs on what had the been the bottom of sheet #2. Then bring sheet three (still on the roll) over 2 and make another layer. Keep building the accordion until you don’t have any herbs left. Bring the last sheet over the last layer. Next I just take a regular Safeway plastic grocery bag and gently slide the accordion into it. I loosely tuck the top of the bag and place it somewhere in the refrigerator without anything except the shelf touching it.
This really works. It does use a lot of paper towel but paper towels are cheap and fresh herbs are expensive. I will take and post some pictures the next time I employ this method. I might even make this another blog entry.
Back to grapao leaves. In the ingredient list above, it used to read, “I’ve never found grapow in the Northern Virginia/Washington, DC area.” Even though I have found krapao leaves nearby, I am sure I will make this with regular Thai basil sometimes. You might wonder why. From that $2 worth in the picture, I had to eat it three days in a row–twice the above recipe and once khao phat grapow (fried rice with krapow leaves)–and was getting tired of it. This is not to mention that I really had to pick through leaves on the third day to get good ones and threw away at least 1/4 of what I had bought. I used the above method with this patch. Apparently, krapow leaves are particularly delicate and just don’t keep well.
Since I don’t have a girlfriend or a roommate that eats meat, I’m often cooking for one. If I buy a similar sized portion of Thai (or Italian) basil from my regular Asian market, not only can I make this dish, though then it technically becomes “Pad Hor-ah-pah” AND make my Italian spaghetti sauce. And yes, this does mean I think Thai basil and Italian basil can be used interchangeably. I can hear the purists heads exploding….