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Thai Basil Pork Belly (Krapow Moo Krob)

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Thai basil pork belly recipe or pad krapow moo krob features crispy fried meat with fragrant herbs and spices. Enjoy this popular Thai street food with steamed rice for a delicious lunch or dinner that will leave you craving more.

Thai basil pork belly with red chilies, garlic, and a deep-fried egg. Behind it is a portion of white rice and a small mortar and pestle.

If you love this, you’ll want to try one of my other holy basil recipes later: pad kra pao ground pork, pad krapow chicken, and authentic Thai basil beef recipe. For a vegetarian version, try this Thai basil recipe vegetarian.

What is Thai basil pork belly

Thai basil pork belly is a classic Thai dish combining crispy pork belly with fragrant holy basil, chili, and garlic. This savory and spicy stir-fry is a staple in Thai cuisine and typical street food, served with steamed jasmine rice and often topped with a fried egg.

Holy basil stir-fry

This simple but delicious dish is easy to make, and it’s a favorite among many Thai people. We enjoy it with steamed rice and a deep-fried egg. It can be eaten as a light meal in between or for dinner, complete with steamed rice.

I love the combination of the rich flavors with the crispy textures. The flavors have the perfect balance of spicy, savory, and slightly sweet and salty. This is a Thai restaurant-quality meal you can easily make at home!

A wooden fork with a bite-sized piece of pork and holy basil. Underneath it is a dish with Thai basil pork belly in it.

The fresh chilies bring a subtle heat, and the peppery flavors of the holy basil pair perfectly with the other ingredients. You’ll love the addition of a deep-fried egg, as the yolk is perfect for mellowing down the spicy flavors.

To make Thai basil pork belly, you will first have to make crispy pork belly. In this Thai fried pork belly recipe, you’ll learn how to fry it golden brown and crispy on the outside, while being tender and juicy on the inside.

Overhead photo of Thai basil pork belly with red chilies and two cloves of garlic in a clay dish. There's also a portion of white rice.

Thai holy basil

The key ingredient in any stir-fried Thai basil or pad kra pao meal is Thai holy basil.

This herb has a slightly peppery and almost minty flavor. It’s important to know that it’s not the same as sweet basil, which has a sweeter flavor. You should be able to find this herb in Asian grocery stores or Asian supermarkets.

Thai holy basil.

As a Thai, I can say that substituting holy basil with regular basil in pad kra pao is not a good option. Despite some recipes suggesting this, the two herbs are nothing alike and subbing one for another will result in a totally different taste and dish: pad horapa.

In Thailand, you will never come across street food vendors using regular basil in pad kra pao, as it’s not authentic, and it’s nothing like the dish that we know and love.

Ingredients

Ingredients can be sourced at Asian grocery stores and Asian markets.
The exact measurements are in the recipe card at the end of this post.


Overhead photo of red chilies, garlic, white sugar, fish sauce, oyster sauce, light soy, holy basil, and crispy pork belly on a bamboo table.
  • Crispy pork belly – This recipe for kra pao moo krob is made with Thai-style crispy pork belly. The crispy texture and the rich flavors of the juicy meat complement the fragrant herbs and spices. You can also make this dish with other protein, like chicken, beef, shrimp, or any other kind of seafood.
  • Garlic – Garlic is a key ingredient in moo krob kra pao for its pungent and savory flavor. The garlic is crushed with chilies and then sautéed until fragrant, which deepens its flavor.
  • Chilies – I prefer to use spicy chilies, Thai chilies like bird’s eye chilies are great in this stir-fry. If you can’t eat spicy, sub with a milder type of chili pepper.
  • Holy basil – Holy basil is the star of this meal, not to be mistaken for sweet basil.
  • Oyster sauce – This thick, dark brown sauce is commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisine for its salty and umami flavor.
  • Light soy sauce – Give a salty flavor to the stir-fry sauce.
  • Fish sauce – Fish sauce is one of the most common ingredients in many Thai food, such as pad Thai. This condiment adds a strong salty and savory flavor.
  • White sugar – A sweet flavor is needed to balance out the salty and spicy flavors of the other ingredients.
  • Water
  • Oil

Step-by-step instructions

Step 1: Pound garlic and chilies with a mortar and pestle.Pounded chilies and garlic in a clay mortar on a wooden background.

Step 2: Mix all sauces and seasonings in a small bowl: water, white sugar, fish sauce, oyster sauce, and light soy sauce.A clay sauce cup with a dark sauce in it and a wooden spoon.

Step 3: Heat oil in a wok or skillet over medium heat. Sauté the chilies and garlic until fragrant and golden.Close-up photo of sautéed red chilies and garlic in a wok.

Step 4: Add the sauce mix from step 2 and allow the sauces to cook and blend together for a brief amount of time.Close-up of a dark brown sauce, chilies, and garlic in a wok.

Step 5: Add fried pork belly and holy basil.Close-up of holy basil and crispy pork belly in a wok.

Step 6. Toss to mix, until the basil leaves are slightly wilted, and the pork belly is warm. Serve your krapow moo krob immediately.Close-up of stir-fried crispy pork belly with holy basil and red chilies in a wok.

Leftover pork belly can be used in one of these pork belly stir-fries: pad kana moo krob with Chinese broccoli, pork belly chili recipe, and Thai sweet pork.

Tips for the best krapow moo krob

  • Don’t overcook the pork belly: After adding it to the wok, just toss a few more times until it is well mixed with the other ingredients.
  • Reduce the spice: For a less spicy pad kra pao pork belly, you can remove chilies and/or remove the seeds. Additionally, you can substitute the Thai chilies for a type of less spicy chilies.
  • Crispiest pork: After cooking this Thai basil pork belly, serve it immediately to ensure the meat remains crisp.
  • Make ahead: If you’ve deep-fried the crispy pork belly in advance, deep-fry it again for a brief amount of time until it’s crisp to ensure you can enjoy this dish to the fullest. For the best results, fry pork belly right before making this recipe.
  • Customize: Traditionally, a Thai holy basil stir-fry has no vegetables. Feel free to add your favorite stir-fry vegetables like green beans and onions.

How to serve pad kra pao moo krob

After cooking, serve immediately to ensure the pork belly remains crisp.

Serve as a main-dish with steamed rice and optionally a deep-fried egg.

How to store

Let your pad kra pao moo krob leftovers cool to room temperature before transferring it to an airtight container. Store it in your refrigerator for up to 3 days.

To reheat, stir-fry in a wok or skillet just to make warm.

Frequently asked questions

What does pad kra pao taste like?

This popular Thai street food has the perfect balance of savory, spicy, and a slightly sweet and salty taste. All ingredients blend together perfectly and create a flavorful, magical, aromatic dish that is typically served with rice and a deep-fried egg.

Can I use regular basil instead of holy basil?

Some recipes might suggest that you can substitute holy basil, but as a Thai person, I would recommend using holy basil for the best and most authentic flavor.

What other meat can I use?

Stir-fried holy basil is a very versatile dish that can be served with other cuts of pork or chicken, beef, tofu, and seafood.

Can I make the pork belly ahead of time?

Yes, you can make it ahead of time and simply deep-fry it briefly when you’re ready to cook this recipe.

Authentic Thai stir-fry recipes

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Thai Basil Pork Belly (Krapow Moo Krob)

Holy basil pork belly with a deep-fried egg and white rice.
Crispy pork belly stir-fried with fragrant holy basil, garlic, chilies, and traditional Thai ingredients.
Praew
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Cuisine Thai
Course Main Course
Serving Size 2 people

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 3 cloves garlic pounded
  • 4 chilies pounded, Thai chilies, to taste
  • 0.7 ounces holy basil
  • 10.5 ounces crispy pork belly
  • 1.5 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water

Instructions

  • Pound garlic and chilies with a mortar and pestle.
  • Mix all sauces and seasonings in a small bowl: water, white sugar, fish sauce, oyster sauce, and light soy sauce.
  • Heat oil in a wok or skillet over medium heat. Sauté the chilies and garlic until fragrant and golden.
  • Add the sauce mix from step 2 and allow the sauces to cook and blend together for a brief amount of time.
  • Add fried pork belly and holy basil.
  • Toss to mix, until the basil is slightly wilted, and the pork belly is warm. Serve immediately.

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