a heaping plate of turkey pad krapow
my friend G (yes, the same one who OD’d in my hokkaido reverie) has been spreading the gospel on costco’s ground turkey. apparently, it’s not only low in fat, high in protein but also a true bargain! $14 buys you 8 lbs or so, which compares to about $5-6 for 1 lb at WF. then again, i suppose butterball brand ground turkey at costco isn’t exactly organic, free range or anything wholesome like that. life is about choices.
having followed his example and lugged back a 4-pack myself, i set about figuring out what to do with the stuff. turkey meatballs, bolognese turkey sauce, braised “lion’s head”, turkey burgers, turkey patties with salted fish, turkey fried rice, turkey tsukune, and the list goes on and on. i really should be thanking G’s ground turkey obsession, as it led me to the promised land of thai basil stir-fry or pad krapow. (i did some digging around and it turns out that the “pad” means stir-fried and ” krapow” = basil).
i’ve seen chicken pad krapow on most thai menus but very rarely turkey. i quite like the taste of the turkey version, and i think it’s because i eat it so often that i prefer it to chicken.
Turkey Pad Krapow
(Makes a heaping plate; ~4 servings)
||~2 lbs (I usually use 1 package of costco’s butterball ground turkey meat)
||2 bulbs, julienned (yes, you can substitute for a small onion if you haven’t got shallots around)
||You can use any pepper to your liking; however, you should adjust the amount based on your spice tolerance. For low/med heat, use 1 jalapeño peppers or about 2-3 thai chili peppers. Please note that I have a rather high spice tolerance, so adjust accordingly.
||An entire bunch, leaves only
- Heat oil in a wok or large pot on med/high heat
- Toss in shallots and sautee until lightly browned
- Then, add ground turkey. Stir-fry until browned and the liquid has mostly evaporated
- Add in chili peppers
- In a small bowl, dissolve sugar into fish sauce
- Add the sugar and fish sauce solution into the wok. Stir fry for 30 more seconds
- Add in the basil. Cook for 20 more seconds until the basil has just wilted
- Remove from heat and serve with white rice
(NB. this dish is sometimes served with a poached egg on top. the egg yolk running into the pad krapow is really quite tasty)
basil san bei ji
my dad absolutely LOVEs this classic taiwanese dish. i swear, sometimes, i think my dad is very silently plotting when he orders this dish on how he can have it all to himself. his tactic, i’ve noticed, is to spoon out small portions to others at the table and to then to give himself a very generous portion — which is usually the rest of the dish.
as a kid, i asked my mom why the dish was named 3 cups of chicken. i thought at first that the 3 cups referred to having 3 cups of chicken in the pot — a bizarre measurement for poultry i must admit. turns out that the 3 cups refer to the classic seasoning ingredients: (1) 1 cup of chinese rice wine, (2) 1 cup of soy sauce, and (3) 1 cup of sesame oil. having an immense craving for this dish, in college i followed its eponymous recipe and actually poured the 3 items above in specified quantity into a pot with some chicken. needless to say, it resulted in a total disaster. there are a few more nuances to this recipe than its name suggests. moreover, basil the key ingredient in this recipe isn’t even mentioned in the name — surely it deserves to be elevated as i’ve done!
i’ve been experimenting with how to reproduce this dish at home, and i think i’ve gotten it right or at least close.
Basil San Bei Ji
(enough for about 1-2 people)
Chicken 2 chicken legs chopped into quarters about 1 inch thick; about 3/4 to 1 lb (i used jidori chicken)
Sesame Oil 2 tbsp
Garlic 5-7 large cloves, peeled
Ginger ~ 1 inch piece, peeled and cut into thin slices
Rice Wine 2 tbsp (can use either shaoxing wine or chinese rice wine)
Soy Sauce 2 tbsp
Sugar 1 tbsp
Basil a large handful of basil leaves, julienned into thick strips
- This recipe is typically cooked in a claypot; however, it can be cooked in a small sauce pan as well.
- Wash chicken legs and pat dry
- Combine soy sauce, sugar and wine in a small bowl and set aside
- Heat sesame oil in pan over medium/high heat
- Add garlic and ginger. Stir fry until lightly brown. Take care not to let the garlic burn; it will do so quickly
- Add in chicken and cook until chicken pieces have nicely browned on both sides
- Add in soy sauce, sugar and wine sauce from step 3 into the pot. Turn the heat down to a simmer
- Allow the sauce to reduce to half (about 10 minutes)
- Add in basil and stir it around to incorporate it into the dish (about 20 seconds)
- Remove from heat and serve