Thai Chicken and Basil (Gai Pad Grapow)



Thai Chicken and Basil (Gai Pad Grapow)


1 tablespoon grapeseed or other neutral oil
3 to 4 bird’s eye chiles, finely chopped (for medium heat, adjust as desired, can substitute 1 serrano pepper)
3 large shallots, thinly sliced (or substitute 1 medium sweet onion)
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound green beans, trimmed, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1-1/2 pounds ground chicken (I grind my own!)
1/4 cup fish sauce
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
2 handfuls Thai basil leaves, chopped


Heat the oil over high heat in a wok or large frying pan. When you can see waves forming in the hot oil, add the chiles, shallots, and garlic. Stir fry until golden, no more than a minute. Add the green beans and stir-fry until cooked but still crunchy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the ground chicken, using a wooden spoon or spatula to break up the meat into small chunks. Stir-fry until chicken is cooked through.

Add the fish sauce and sugar to the pan and stir to distribute. Taste, and add more fish sauce or sugar if desired. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the basil leaves and stir-fry until completely wilted. Remove from heat.

Serve over jasmine rice with more sliced chiles in fish sauce or chile flakes on the side, as desired.


To say that I love Thai food is a bit of an understatement. I think I may have actually been born in the wrong country. I only started eating it a couple of years ago, but in that short time I’ve probably tried a few dozen dishes, all of which I’ve liked or loved.

If you’ve never made Thai food, perhaps because you think it’s difficult to replicate in your own kitchen, may I suggest starting with this recipe? It’s simple simple and so astonishingly delicious, it has given me all the confidence I need to try more of my favorite cuisine at home. Yeah baby.


30 thoughts on “Thai Chicken and Basil (Gai Pad Grapow)

  1. Yay! Do you make the nam pla prik too? I love Thai food but it is the difficulty in finding the “authentic” ingredients that gets me every time.


  2. Katie, I do. I meant to put that in the post. Poop. Anyway, yeah, I bought a bag of chiles, sliced them all up, put them in a small empty jar and covered them with fish sauce. Yuuuuuuum.

    Paula, thanks! But why can't you normally eat Thai food?


  3. Thai food is the best. I have a Thai cookbook that barely resembles a book anymore because it's ripped, stained, and mangled…with total love.


  4. I'm with you on the born in the wrong country thing – I “discovered” Vietnamese food a few years back, and now I can't get enough! Thai's good too, I'll have to try making my own 🙂


  5. Paula, yikes! I never knew.

    And Amy, I never knew you were crazy abut Thai food like me. How did I not know this??

    Vicki, that's true, you do make more Vietnamese than most people I see, at least what you've posted. I love that cuisine also.


  6. I'm like you and Vicki — definitely was Asian in another life (though I still can't pin-point the country).

    Glad to see your preference for thigh meat over white meat, and your embrace of fish sauce! Looks like a great recipe


  7. I don't know how you didn't know that. I love all things Asian – I barely made it through a tortuous 9 months of pregnancy without sushi, I request Chinese food whenever I visit my mom, and if Paul didn't like Thai food, it could have possibly been a deal breaker. Not kidding. There's a Thai restaurant in Sac that we were VERY fond of and have already been back to since our CA return. It was just as good as I remember.


  8. Julia, ya gotta use the dark meat! Asian cultures have that part right. They laugh – and rightly so – at how popular chicken breast is here.

    Thanks Lynsey.

    Amy, kindred spirits! 😀 I'll tell ya, as much as I have gone crazy for Thai food, I am relieved and thrilled that Steve has developed a real liking for it. Thank god!


  9. Weird. I thought I made put in a comment earlier this morning.

    What I was saying was it's kinda cool that I knew you were Thai-food-obsessed before I read your post. And you're right: a lot of what we see at Thai restaurant is remarkably easy to replicate at home. I managed to fake my way to making to halfway decent Tom Kha Gai.


  10. Edwin, you're definitely well aware of that fact. 😛 And I would love to know how you made the tom kha gai. Next thing I'm going to try though is pad kee mao, special for Steve.

    Anita, I got mine at the Thai Laos market in Anaheim. The $1 bags are huge!


  11. I remember when I first tried Thai food in college. I couldn't get enough of it. I had to have it all of the time. I insisted that every last one of my friends try it. I'd make us all gorge ourselves on my favorite soups, appetizers, entrees adn desserts. Oh, it's to die for.

    It's a bit easier to find Thai ingredients in my 'hood right now, although I don't live near any good Asian markets. I can at least find fish sauce, lemon grass and red curry paste, which is something I couldn't get 20 years ago.

    I dno't have Thai basil or birds eye chilis, but at least there are subs. I hate it when recipes call for kaffir lime leaves. I swear that ingredient is invisible to me and only cookbook authors can see it.


  12. Jenn, I LOVE pad thai. I really need to start making my own.

    Thanks Pam!

    R, I had no idea you loved it too! Awesome. I finally got Steve eating it and now he has it once or twice a week. I'm thrilled.

    And I know what you mean about the kaffir lime leaves. Definitely the hardest to find. I'm blessed to have the Thai market relatively near me.


  13. well of course you now know I will be having Thai cravings after seeing this. You did good girl! This looks amazing! your Jar of Happiness would make me happy too 🙂


  14. This looks amazing. I'm also a huge fan of Thai and have only begun to explore the possibilities of it. We've made our own Pad Thai a few times, but I've got this huge bottle of fish sauce at home that just needs to be used. Guess I should get busy!


  15. Thank you so much for your blog. I love Thai but have only recently been serious about trying to cook it at home. The addition of a gas turkey fryer, which will probably never fry a turkey, and finding your blog has made all the difference in the world. So far we've tried Pad Kee Mao Gai and Gai Pad Grapow, both turned out at least as good as you would expect from a restaraunt. My wife has always been the Chef in our house, a throne I want no part of on a daily basis, it's nice to be able to make a worthy contribution from time to time.
    Thanks Melissa!


  16. Gary, this comment really made my day. Thank you so much for letting me know that the recipes have worked for you. I still make them both all the time myself, along with a pad see ew I will get around to posting one of these days.

    Thanks again and happy cooking!!


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