Pad Kaprao Goong (Stir-Fried Prawn with Basil Leaves)
1 pound medium-sized Tiger Prawn, cleaned, shelled and deviened
4-6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil
2 teaspoons black soy sauce
1-2 tablespoons fish sauce to taste
1 cup fresh holy basil (bai Kaprao)*
4-8 Thai red ripe chiles, chopped and pounded **
Sprinkle of ground white pepper
Place wok over flame and heat until the oil is hot, then add garlic and stir-fry until golden and fragrant. Then add prawn, and continue stir-frying until prawn is nearly cooked.
Add the pounded chiles and drizzle the black soy sauce over the mixture and stir-fry another 15-20 seconds.
Then add fresh basil leaves (bai Kaprao) and fish sauce to taste.
Stir-fry lightly tossing to incorporate all the ingredients.
Sprinkle with the white pepper. Stir-fry and transfer to a serving dish.
Serve with butter lettuce leaves. I love placing a spoonful in each leaf and eating out of hand. You also can serve this stir-fry over mixed baby greens or young spinach leaves.
Another serving suggestion is to serve with steamed Jasmine Brown Rice.
* If bai Kaprao is not available substitue with a mixture of mint and Bai Horpha (sweet Thai basil) leaves. Bai Kaprao also known as Holy Basil is related to the mint family. The leaves are small and green, with a rough texture like mint with a slight purple tinge. They release a very pungent fragrance when cooked.
** If Thai chiles are not available use red ripe serranoes.
Notes: Use a good quality fish sauce (nam Pla) such as Golden Boy. I do not suggest chemically produced inexpensive fish sauce. The difference in cost is mere pennies. Sometimes non-Asian people are put off by the smell of fish sauce, but fresh quality fish sauce does NOT have a strong or unpleasant smell.
Fish Sauce or nam pla is used all over Southeast Asia much as Chinese use soy sauce. It is what blends and melds the exciting Thai flavours together. It is the salty of the sweet, hot, and sour balance of Thai cuisine.
Fish Sauce (nam pla) translates to "fish water." Real, non-chimically produced fish sauce is the water or liquid resulting from the flesh of fish that is extracted in the process of a laborious task of salting and fermenting of the fish. It is usually made using small fish or what might be called bait fish. The fish can be either sea or fresh water fish, but almost all comercially available fish sauce is made of sea water fish.
To learn about the production of fish sauce I suggest reading this informative article by my long time friend Kasma Loha-Unchit: