Mar 21

Spicy Beef & Basil Stir Fry







The flavours of Thailand seem to be lingering in the back of my mind and on the tip of my tongue this past week. From Thai fishcakes to fragrant Thai-inspired  baked fish, I cannot seem to get enough of it. Everything is so fresh, fragrant and simple, yet there is a distinct complexity to the balance of flavours that brings it all together in one harmonious finish.



Today I am attempting to recreate a dish I came across at a Thai restaurant in Kuala Lumpur. It was a really delicious stir fried beef with basil, coated in a thick dark sauce. R. liked it so much we ended up going back there time and time again. The boyfriend is crazy like that. If he likes something he wants to eat it all the time ~ like chocolate pudding and custard, of which I now refuse to make coz I feel the need to move on to other new and as yet untested recipes.



This dish takes just moments to prepare and you can just as easily cook enough of this to feed 20, or scale it down to feed two. Mid-week meal nightmares be gone! I like the fact that Asian food has become so accepted in the broader Western culture; you no longer need to visit a specialist Asian store for all the ingredients. The main ingredients can be found right there at the local supermarket in the Asian section. Before coming to the Netherlands I was a touch apprehensive about whether I could find Asian ingredients as easily as I found them in Australia. To my relief, Asian products abound at pretty much all supermarket outlets … tho dominated by Indonesian sauces and seasonings. The closer you live to the center of Amsterdam the wider the selection, although I still have to get tofu from Chinatown. To all my Dutch readers, everything in this recipe I picked up at Albert Heijn (AH).



By the way, fun fact : I have never been to Thailand. EVER.

It’s so weird coz I lived in Malaysia for half my life … and Malaysia is just nextdoor! We share a border for crying out loud! But ask me what Thailand is like and I couldn’t tell you.




Pad Kaprao.

(serves 2 – 3)







  • 300 g beef tenderloin , sliced thinly
  • 2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 2 large fresh chilllies, sliced
  • 1 small green pepper (optional)
  • 1 large red onion
  • bunch of fresh Thai sweet basil









  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp corn flour




Before cooking the meat I like to marinate it about 30 mins beforehand. I find this tenderizes the meat and gives it much flavour. So if your piece of meat isn’t already sliced, just slice it thinly across the grain. For ease (and out of sheer laziness) I paid the extra dough and bought mine pre-cut. Tsk tsk tsk.






Place the meat into a bowl and marinate with soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce, the chillies and the garlic. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for half an hour. Remove from the fridge 15 mins before cooking to allow the meat to come up to room temp.


Place oil in a hot skillet and allow to come up to temp … about 3 – 4 mins. Then in go the onions, chillies and green peppers (if using). Toss to coat in oil and stir fry until fragrant.


Once the onions are slightly soft, add the beef all at once and keep it moving in the hot wok. The beef will only take a short time to cook. If you are cooking a large portion, then you may want to do this bit in batches.


Keep tossing the meat in the pan and check for seasoning. You may want to add more oyster sauce or fish sauce to your liking. Some may also want to add more chillies for that extra kick. I’m a wuss so I use large red chillies, when in actual Thai recipes they use small bird’s eye chillies.


Add a little water to provide some gravy. Since there is cornstarch in there the mixture will thicken very quickly. Turn off the heat and immediately add the fresh basil leaves. Oh, the fragrance! Toss to distribute evenly. then serve over hot rice.








This dish is a keeper. It’s quick, it’s simple and it is packed full of flavours. The heat from those chillies really liven things up. In the background you’ll get the lovely notes of basil coming through. I must point out that I used regular continental basil. For the life of me I have no idea where to find sweet Thai basil here. There will be a slight difference in taste but no one is going to nit-pick (I hope). If you can get your hands on proper Thai basil then by all means chuck those into the wok.







For garnish I like to use sesame seeds. The restaurant had crushed peanuts on theirs (yuck!) … but you can do what you think is best for your presentation. Again, no one is going to nit-pick over the choice of garnish.



So there you have it folks, my wonderful spicy beef & basil stir fry. I must say, the Thais are doing it right. If you like similar dishes then stay tuned to this channel, coz I think I might just keep going with Thai cuisine. In the meantime, happy cooking everybody!




~ Enjoy! ~


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