Quick and tasty, phat kaphrao (Thai Beef Mince with Basil & Chilli) is a great dish for anyone who wants some authentic Thai flavour in a hurry! Unlike many other classic Thai dishes, phat kaphrao takes mere minutes to whip up and doesn’t require more than a couple of Thai ingredients, making it a great lunch option or a simple addition to a larger meal.
The real stars of the show are the basil and chilli so it doesn’t really matter what your protein of choice is when making phat kaphrao. Whilst this particular version of the dish uses beef, you can also make it using minced pork or chicken – it really just comes down to your preference and what you have lurking in the fridge at the time. Personally I prefer making it with beef as I find chicken and pork mince can be a little dry – something that the beef’s fat content seems to negate, so don’t use extra-lean mince when making this dish. If you are going to use minced chicken just make sure that it’s made with some dark meat and not just chicken breast.
But back to the all important basil and chilli.
Firstly don’t be shy when adding the basil – use lots…and then add a bit more! I’m of the opinion you can never have enough basil in phat kaphrao! Another thing to bear in mind is that not all basil is created equal and it is important that you use the right kind in the right dishes. Whilst similar to Thai basil, sweet Mediterranean basil isn’t really a good substitute in Thai dishes as it’s far too ‘soft’ to withstand intense cooking and surrenders its flavour all too readily. Admittedly Thai basil isn’t always easy to source so I suggest growing a plant in your garden – it is easy to grow and you’ll have an abundant supply on hand whenever you need it.
Whilst it’s an integral part of the dish’s flavour, the amount of chilli you chose to add to your phat kaphrao comes down to personal preference and tolerance levels. Like most Thais I love my chillies, but I prefer to err on the side of caution when adding them to the dish as the heat of chillies can be notoriously unpredictable. Instead I prefer to serve the bulk of the chillies on the side (chopped and steeped in white rice vinegar) which allows you to add as much heat as you are in the mood for.
Phat Kaphrao (Thai Beef Mince with Basil & Chilli): Serves 2
- 300g beef mince (not too lean)
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 150g green beans, very thinly sliced
- 1/4 onion, thinly sliced with the grain
- 1 large red chilli, sliced
- 1 cup Thai basil leaves
- 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp. fish sauce
- 1/2 tbsp. light soya sauce
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1/2 tsp. dried chilli flakes
- In a small bowl combine the fish sauce, soya sauce, sugar and chilli flakes
- Heat a well-seasoned wok over a very high heat. Once searingly hot, pour in the vegetable oil
- Add the beef and garlic. Stir-fry for 30 seconds, breaking up the meat with your spatula
- Add the thinly sliced green beans and onions. Stir-fry furiously for a couple of minutes, again using your spatula to move the meat around the wok
- Pour in the sauce mixture and stir-fry for another couple of minutes or until the sauce is mostly absorbed by the meat
- Add the sliced chillies and the basil leaves. Take the wok off the heat and stir to combine until the basil is just wilted
- Serve immediately
Serve: If you are eating phat kaphrao for lunch then serve it with plain jasmine rice, a runny fried egg and extra chillies on the side.