Holy Basil

The Thai name krapao seems to aptly describe the punch the leaves of this plant give to stir-fries. This relative of the well known herb central to Italian cuisine is used in a large number of Thai dishes, lending its unique fragrance and taste to every kind of meat.

Spicy Drunken Noodles

I've never been able to find out exactly how this dish got its name, which in Thai is kwiteeo pat kee mao. Unlike Chinese 'drunken' recipes that I have known, there's no alcohol used in this dish, ever. The basic ingredients are similar to those used in stir-fried meats with garlic and holy basil, called pat krapao in Thai. It does appear that the name actually refers to the diner, rather than the dish. In other words, the name should be translated as 'drunkard's noodles' but that just doesn't have quite the same ring.

Holy Basil Stir-Fry

Pat krapao, as it's called in Thai, is a rather 'standard' dish that you'll find available in just about every restaurant and road-side stall in Thailand. My Thai friends sometimes smile at my frequent orders for this dish, since many Thais consider it a bit pedestrian - what they order when they just can't think of anything else. I like to order pat krapao frequently not only because I like the flavor, but also because it's a remarkably flexible recipe. Every cook seems to have their own variation. Some put in more garlic, some more holy basil.

Holy Basil

The Thai name krapao seems to aptly describe the punch the leaves of this plant give to stir-fries. This relative of the well known herb central to Italian cuisine is used in a large number of Thai dishes, lending its unique fragrance and taste to every kind of meat. Holy basil is found in Thailand in two varieties. The more common 'red' kind (pictured) has dark green leaves and reddish stems. The 'white' strain has lighter green leaves and nearly white stems. The taste of the red variety is stronger and the preferred ingredient for chicken, pork and beef stir-fries.

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