Jet-setting to jet-washing by Molly England & Phat krapow kai – Chicken stir fry with basil by Claire Handleman

Photo & Food By Claire Handleman

Photo & Food By Claire Handleman

When Claire Handleman mentioned she was jet-setting to Thailand for a few weeks, a pang of jealousy struck me. My husband, Steve and I always imagined we’d be the type of family traveling the world, untethered by societal confines. Then reality struck. Once children arrived, routines were solidified and veering from our humdrum days meant inviting chaos and turmoil.

We quickly replaced weekend getaways and European backpacking tours with naps, playdates and bedtime stories. Luckily, Claire documents her travels with vibrant images of food and culture. Her photos leap off the screen, begging us to join her adventures. Here’s a taste of the Thai culture Claire recently enjoyed. Let’s live vicariously through Claire and cook this authentic Thai stir fry dish.

Photo & Food By Claire Handleman

Photo & Food By Claire Handleman

Phat Krapow Kai-  Chicken Stir Fry with Basil

This dish can be found most anywhere in Bangkok. It’s eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner and is a quick dish that packs a punch of flavor.

Phat Krapow simply means stir fry with basil (phat= stir fry and krapow= basil).

I like savory dishes for breakfast, so this is a go-to for me while I’m in Thailand.

Prepare some Jasmine rice for this dish to balance the spicy, salty and aromatic flavors.

If you’re making this dish for more than one person, double the quantities. No more than 2x the recipe should be attempted in one pan. It will be too much food and you won’t be able to break up the chicken well. So do it in batches if you’re making for more than one or two people.

Serves 1


4 T. vegetable oil

1 large egg

1 tsp. Thai fish sauce

2 tsp. thin soy sauce

1 T. Thai oyster sauce

5-6 large cloves garlic, peeled

⅓ lb. ground chicken (preferably dark meat)

⅓ cup long beans (or yardlong beans), sliced 1” long (these can be found in Asian markets– they are like green beans but yummier)

3 small red shallots, or 1 regular small shallot

4-6 Thai chilis, stems removed

1 cup Holy basil (this can be hard to find, so I untraditionally use Thai basil when I can’t find it)


Prik Naam Plaa

3 garlic cloves, sliced very thinly width-wise

10 Thai chilis, red and green, sliced very thinly

½  lime

Thai fish sauce

Add the chilis and garlic to a small bowl and cover with fish sauce. Let sit at room temperature while you prepare dinner. Right before your meal, squeeze in the juice of half a lime. This can keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Serve with Jasmine Rice

If you have a mortar and pestle, add the chilis to the mortar with a pinch of salt and begin pounding. Once you have broken up the chilis, add the garlic and shallots. Pound until you have a coarse paste.

Photo & Food By Claire Handleman Photo & Food By Claire Handleman

If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, add all the ingredients to a food processor and pulse until you get a coarse paste.

Set yourself up with four small bowls to help you organize yourself for mise en place.

Add the chili paste to one bowl, the ground chicken to another, and the long beans to a third.

In the fourth bowl add  the oyster sauce, thin soy sauce and fish sauce and stir to combine.

Line up all these bowls next to the stovetop.

Photo & Food By Claire Handleman Photo & Food By Claire Handleman

Have the picked basil leaves nearby.

Place a large sautee pan over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot, add the chili garlic paste and stir it around until it smells very fragrant. Once the garlic has just begun to turn golden, add the ground chicken. Use a metal spoon to break up the chicken and smash it around the pan. Stir constantly until the chicken is mostly separated. Add the long beans and continue cooking.

Photo & Food By Claire Handleman Photo & Food By Claire Handleman

Once the chicken is mostly cooked, after about a minute and a half, add the bowl of liquids containing the oyster sauce, fish sauce and soy sauce. Continue to stir until most of the liquid has evaporated, but not totally dry. You want some sauce left in the pan.

Add the basil and toss around the pan for a few seconds. The idea is to just wilt the leaves. Take the pan off the heat.

Turn on a small non-stick pan and add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot, crack the egg into the center of the pan. Be careful because the oil can sputter and spit. In Thailand, they like to actually fry eggs. It creates fluffy whites and a crispy bottom (totally unlike the video I made on how to make perfect fried eggs!). Use a large spoon and baste the egg with the extra oil in the pan to help cook the top of the egg. I like my eggs with a runny yolk, so this whole process takes about a minute.

When your egg is the desired doneness, remove with a spatula and place on a plate with a paper towel to let the excess oil drain.

Scoop some jasmine rice on a plate, add the stir fried chicken and basil, and top with the egg. Serve with prik naam plaa (fish sauce with chilis) so you can season your dish with more chili or more salt as you like.

Claire Handleman has been a chef in New York for 10 years, working at some of the city’s best restaurants. She previously worked on ABC’s Emmy-award winning show The Chew as an assistant producer and participated in Food Network’s Chopped competition…and won.

Claire has been traveling the world for the past dozen years but focuses a majority of her time in South-East Asia. She has come to regard Thailand as a second home and spends many months each year learning Thai cuisine.

She is currently working on a book with the hopes of sharing the incredible cuisine her Thai friends have shared with her.

While she travels and works, she shares stories, recipes and travel tips on her blog Passport to Eat.

Molly England earned her master’s degree in social work at The University of Edinburgh. She currently lives in The Woodlands, Texas with her husband and their three children. She is a devoted blogger, freelance writer and a passionate Certified Bradley Method® Natural Childbirth Educator. In 2015 Molly founded Bluebonnet Babies, a virtual hub providing products and resources based on evidence, research, experience and love to parents making healthy and informed choices. Blogging enables Molly to achieve her goal of empowering families across the globe as they navigate pregnancy to parenthood. Molly’s article on birth plans is featured in Pregnancy & Newborn Magazine’s February Issue. She’s also contributed to Green Child Magazine, Pathways to Family Wellness, Holistic Parenting Magazine and more. Visit

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