Celebrate Thai New Year with This Fiery Basil Stir Fry Recipe
Pad krapow is an everyday meal for Soothr co-founder Joel Chidensee, who especially loves it on Songkran.
The dish most Thai people crave in Thailand when they’re hungry is pad krapow, according to Joel Chindensee, a co-founder of Soothr, which opened in New York’s East Village in 2020. “It’s like mac and cheese for us—it’s comfort food,” he says.
The basil stir fry dish hits all the right notes: the protein choice is completely customizable, so you can opt for ground pork, cubes of tofu, or even tangles of squid; the spice level can range from mild to tongue-searing heat; and though traditionally consumed with steamed jasmine rice, pad krapow can really go with any carb (spaghetti is a popular option).
“McDonald’s in Thailand actually do a krapow patty for their burger,” Chidensee says. “Pad krapow is for breakfast, lunch, and dinner—especially with a fried egg on top.”
This goes for Songkran, Thailand’s new year, as well. Unlike Lunar New Year or Thanksgiving, Songkran doesn’t really have a traditional designated dish or meal. The new year celebrations are more focused on water. Festivities include making merit at temples by pouring water on statues of Buddha, cleansing the hands and feet of elders to wash away any bad luck from the previous year, and endless water fights with friends, family, and complete strangers. Lots of celebrations involve booze, too.
“During Songkran, you just need something that will boost your energy because you’re going to be partying. A lot of carbs, a lot of sticky rice,” Chidensee says, reminiscing on his own Songkran holidays spent back home in Thailand. “People drink so much—you just need to eat so you don’t get wasted.” For Chidensee, pad krapow is the perfect dish for this.
Although he can’t participate in water fights in New York—the weather in April just isn’t as hot as it gets in Thailand—Chidensee is happy to have a piece of home in the food he serves at Soothr. “When we opened Soothr in May of the pandemic, we just wanted to offer New Yorkers an authentic place where they come and get some really nice Thai food similar to what they’ve had in Thailand,” he says. So if you’re looking for a way to celebrate Thai new year in New York, you can stop by Soothr for a meal, or make their version of pad krapow at home.
Soothr Pad Krapow Recipe
- 3 ounces of mixed sauce (to prep mixed sauce: mix equal part of sugar, oyster sauce and soy sauce and whisk well)
- 1 teaspoon of sweet soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon of crushed Thai chilies
- 1 teaspoon of minced garlic
- 1 pound of protein (beef recommended)
- 1 tablespoon of sliced green and red long hots
- 1 handful of holy basil
- Sliced onion (optional)
- Dash of ground white pepper
1. Put 1 ounce of oil in a hot pan.
2. Stir fry smashed garlic and smashed Thai chilies until garlic turns golden.
3. Add your choice of protein; stir fry until cooked almost through.
4. Add mixed sauce and continue cooking the protein so the sauce coats the protein.
5. Add sliced long hots and a handful of holy basil and toss until evenly distributed.
6. Add a dash of ground white pepper to finish
7. Enjoy it over rice with fried egg and prik nam pla (Thai chili fish sauce) or sliced fresh cucumber.
Note: Add a few dashes of fish sauce on the hot pan (not on the krapow) for a char flavor.