Weekly Winner: Way Beyond Basic Basil Beef

Yes, I’m still obsessed with my new cookbook 101 Asian Dishes You Need to Cook Before You Die by Jet Tila. This is the very first thing I made out of the book but the second one I’ve written about. I thought starting with Spicy Basil Beef would be the perfect place to start because it’s a dish I’m familiar with and I had all the necessary ingredients.

I have probably made four or five versions of this dish before, but no more. I have now found the definitive recipe. I can now throw all of those away. While the other versions were all perfectly fine and some were even darn tasty, this new riff blows all others out of the water.

This dish is quick, easy and ultimately satisfying. You can also temper the spice level by simply altering the amount of chili paste and Thai chiles (or serrano) that you use.

Spicy Basil Beef (Pad Krapow)

Serves 4


3 Tbsp sweet soy sauce

2 Tbsp oyster sauce

4 Tbsp fish sauce

2 Tbsp chili paste in soybean oil

3 Tbsp vegetable oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1-3 serrano or Thai chilies, sliced

3 cups lean ground beef

1 medium onion, sliced

1 small red bell pepper, sliced

1-1/2 cups Thai basil leaves, picked off the stem

1/2 tsp white pepper


  • Combine the sweet soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce and chili paste in a small bowl and reserve.
  • Heat your wok or large skillet over high heat and add the vegetable oil. When wisps of white smoke appear, add the garlic and chilies. Cook them until the garlic starts to brown, about 30 seconds.
  • Stir in the ground beef, flatten against the pan and cook undisturbed for about 45 seconds. The beef will start to brown; turn over once, press flat against the pan and cook for another 30 seconds. Break up the meat into gravel-sized pieces and drain any excess liquid.
  • Stir in the onion and bell pepper and stir-fry for about a minute. Add the reserved sauce to the wok and combine the ingredients thoroughly for about 1 minute. Add the Thai basil and cook until the beef is thoroughly cooked and onions are slightly tender. Finish with white pepper.