thaibasilpork_Lara Ferroni

This dish is quick and easy to make, yet full of the flavors that Thai cuisine is beloved for. Don’t worry if you don’t have all three sauces in your pantry. Soy sauce alone is fine, just taste and adjust the seasonings as desired. Ground chicken or turkey also works well in this dish, as well as fresh seafood: shrimp, scallops, mussels, and firm-flesh fish like salmon or halibut. To make it an-all-in-one dish, add some frozen vegetables.

Time: 20 minutes
Makes: 4 to 6 servings as part of a multicourse family-style meal

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 cloves garlic, minced (2 tablespoons)
5 Asian shallots or 1/2 small yellow onion, cut into thin slices (1⁄3 cup)
1-1/2 pounds ground pork
6 red Thai chilies, cut into rounds (optional)
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1-1/2 cups packed fresh Thai or Italian basil leaves
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper (optional)

1. Preheat a large wok or skillet over high heat for 1 minute. Swirl in the oil and heat until it becomes runny and starts to shimmer. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the garlic and shallots and cook until the garlic is light golden and fragrant, 15 to 30 seconds. Raise the heat to high and stir in the pork, breaking up clumps with the edge of your spatula. Stir and cook until the meat has just lost its blush, 1 to 2 minutes.

2. Reduce the heat to medium and throw in the chilies. Add the oyster sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce, and sugar and stir to coat the meat evenly. Stir in the basil and cook until the basil is wilted and the pork is cooked through, another 30 seconds to 1 minute. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with pepper. Serve hot with freshly steamed rice and a side of veggies.

Born in Indonesia and raised in Singapore, Patricia Tanumihardja writes about food, travel, and lifestyle through a multicultural lens and has been published in numerous national and regional publications. Pat’s debut cookbook, The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook—Home Cooking from Asian American Kitchens is now available in paperback. She is also the creator of the Asian Ingredients 101 app, a glossary on-the-go that’s the perfect companion on a trip to the Asian market, and blogs at She currently lives with her family in Seattle.

Photo credit: Lara Ferroni