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Thai Holy Basil Fried Fish (Pad Khra Pao Pla)

Updated: Jan 19, 2022

On Main Street aka Sukhumvit in Pattaya across the street from Tesco is a little known restaurant ran by a husband and wife. Their specialty is spicy basil fried Barracuda fish. Whan and I love it’s depth of flavor and crispy bits with rice. We have eaten there a lot. Living outside of Thailand now we of course don’t have access to barracuda. We do have another voracious predator fish here in the USA that a lot of people already know, the bluegill. Aka Bream or copper nose or Brim. fun to catch and tasty this fish is perfect for Khra Pao. Most people only know fried fish and this flavor is a nice change and a new way to experience fresh or saltwater fish.

here it is finished.....



1/2 pound cleaned bluegill or fish of your choice

1 ounce of holy basil or about 15-20 leaves

6 Thai red chilies or to your taste

3 cloves of garlic

2 tablespoons Oyster Sauce

2 tablespoons Fish Sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1-1/2 teaspoons turbonado or Raw sugar

2 tablespoons Tempura powder

4 tablespoons frying oil - we used canola

STEP 1 Prepare the fish and chill it.

Special Thanks to Bob Kelley for graciously giving us a bag of cleaned and prepared bluegills. You can leave the skin on or fillet them totally. What you need is bite size pieces of fish. When you have about half a pound or so you are ready.



Lightly batter the fish in Tempura batter. No special technique here just mix it up to coat the fish in the powder. No eggs or three coat system. Just the powder. Put this in the fridge for now.



Muddle the garlic and chilies. you can use a processor but the results we think are better in the mortise and pestle.

with the chili and garlic..its a big mortis and pestle so it makes it easy to muddle...



Fry the fish

Add the oil to the wok or pan. Medium heat is all that is needed. Fry the fish until crispy on the edges or about 2-1/2 to 3 minutes.

Bluegill frying

Put the fried bluegill on a paper towel and set aside.


clean the wok or get another one. Add the 4tbls oil to the wok and get it as hot as possible.

Oil in the pan

This is our flame height

Flame height for frying Garlic


Fry the garlic and chili then add the sugar and fish then basil. Same as this video. of course we were a bit light on the sauce but the ingredients above are double what we have shown here. Pardon the messy stove as we had been cooking for a while.

serve with rice or just eat it as is.....


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