#5 Thai ~ Neua Pat Bai Grapao

Otherwise known as Stir-Fried Minced Beef with Chillies and Holy Basil – or Holy Basil Stir-fry as we call it at home. This is a regular staple in our house and it’s a chilli lover’s delight. We’ve put our 8 year old through rigorous chilli consumption training with this dish. I’ve now upped the bird’s eye chillies in the actual stir fry to about 12 (seedless). He sweats it out with a big glass of milk on the side – and absolutely loves it!

The beauty of this dish is that it can be a ‘choose your own chilli adventure’. You can change the amount of chillies (and even remove the seeds) in the stir-fry to accommodate those who are a little gun-shy. Those that are up to the challenge can add some of the glorious Chillies in Fish Sauce (recipe below) to turn up the heat. No matter the heat level, the variety of flavours still reign supreme in this salty, rich and delicious dish.

The base recipe that I use is from the amazing ‘Thai Street Food’ by David Thompson.


I actually remember reading an interview with him not too long ago about this particular book. In it he mentioned his top 5 Thai street food dishes, with this one being at the top of his list. I have to agree. The page this particular recipe is on is quite filthy and sometimes sticks together.

Neua Pat Bai Grapao (Stir-Fried Minced Beef with Chillies and Holy Basil)

  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 8-20 bird’s eye chillies
  • 2 good pinches of salt
  • approx. 8 tblsp of vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 400g coarsely  minced beef
  • 4 tblsp fish sauce
  • 2 large pinches of white sugar
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 4 large handfuls of holy basil leaves
  • chillies in fish sauce (recipe to follow)

I find it near impossible to find holy basil in Sydney, so I use Thai sweet basil or sometimes this tasty little sucker…


Before you do anything, put on some damn gloves otherwise something will sting in your near future. Coarsely chop the garlic, chillies and salt all together in a pile – remember to remove the chilli seeds first if you can’t handle the heat. Heat a well-seasoned wok over high heat, then turn down the heat and add half your oil. Crack in one of your eggs and fry gently, moving it slightly so it doesn’t stick to the bottom. Cook to your liking, however the best way to enjoy in this dish is with an egg that has a runny yolk and crispy edges. Fry the rest of the eggs. Once all the eggs are cooked, place them on some paper toweling someplace warm until the beef is ready.

Add the rest of your oil. Once hot, fry off the garlic and chillies, but don’t let it colour. Add the beef and continue to stir-fry for a minute until just cooked. Season to taste with the fish sauce and sugar (not too salty now). Add the water and simmer for a moment. There should be enough liquid to form the sauce. Stir in the holy basil and as soon as it is wilted, remove it from the heat. It should taste rich, hot, salty and spicy from the basil.

I usually serve it with brown rice, but any rice will do (I’ve even tossed it through some rice noodles before). Top with your egg and serve along side some chillies in fish sauce.

Chillies in Fish Sauce

  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 10-15 bird’s eye chillies, finely sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 1 tblsp lime juice
  • good pinch of chopped coriander

Combine the fish sauce, chillies, and garlic in a bowl and set aside (this keeps for quite a while, becoming richer and milder as it settles). Just before serving, stir through the lime juice and coriander.

Tim and I like to top our dishes with a tablespoon or more of the chilli sauce (depending on how brave we’re feeling, or the severity of the chillies themselves), then chop up the egg on top and mix the lot together. So amazingly delicious, I recommend putting this one in your regular cooking repertoire.

Serves 4 chilli addictsimg_20170130_191526


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