This is a quick and easy dish to make. The holy basil has a "hot peppery" taste, but if you can't get it then the standard european basil is a reasonable substitute, though you should add a little freshly ground black pepper in this case.
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons chopped shallots
2 tablespoons chopped mixed red and green chiles (prik ki nu)
1 teaspoon green peppercorns, whole.
¼ cup fish sauce
2 tablespoons palm sugar
1 cup coarsely chopped holy basil leaves (bai gaprao)
1 cup sliced onion (any mixture of 'spanish' onions, red onions, shallots and spring onions can be used).
1 pound ground or minced beef.
My wife chops the beef with a pair of cleavers, and I can't bear to watch... you can of course use a meat grinder or a food processor.
The garlic, shallots, peppers and peppercorns are ground together in a mortar and pestle or a food processor. In a hot wok, with a little cooking oil, briefly stir fry this paste to bring out the flavour and aroma. Add the remaining ingredients, except the onion, and continue to stir until the beef is cooked through.
Add the onions, mix thoroughly, and serve.
For luncheon pad bai kaprao can be served over plain rice, or over a fried egg or egg crepe, placed on the rice. For dinner it goes well with the hot and sour tom yum soups, as well as curries and other Thai food.
It can be made with chopped pork or chicken, though of course the flavours are quite different. You can also experiment with replacing the meat with hard tofu marinated in a mixture of sweet soy, fish sauce and ground ginger, say, or a vegetable mix of your choice (I like to mix broccoli and cauliflower florets, with julienned carrots and wing beans), to make a vegetarian pad bai kaprao.