Easy Vegan Thai Minced Pork with Holy (& Sweet) Basil – Pad Ga Prao Muu – in Lettuce Cups

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

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vromans back

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I live very close to the area in LA called Thai Town (Hollywood Blvd – essentially – east of Western).  It is an incredible resource for Thai & other Asian ingredients – like canned jackfruit, every manner of noodle & rice & some exotic spices.  The other day, at my favorite Thai market, Bangluck, I spotted these guys here:

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Vegetarian pork, duck & generic meat – in cans – for just over a dollar each.  The photos are not so appetizing but I could not resist trying them.  For whatever reason – I got two cans of the pork & decided to try them out today in this Thai dish.  Apparently, authentic Pad Ga Prao Muu uses only the Thai Holy (or hot) basil but I dd not have enough of that so I added some sweet Thai basil.  Here is how they look (holy/hot basil on top & Thai/sweet basil below with the purple flowers:

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The holy basil has serrated edges & the sweet basil does not.  They really do smell & taste very different but, I think, only a true aficionado of Thai food would know or care about the difference.  I used both & I was very pleased with the result.

Even more exciting – the canned pork!  Seitan, really.  Here are the details:

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Drained, it did not smell or taste funky.  AT ALL.  And even kinda looks like pork.  Any seitan would work for this recipe – stuff from your health food store or Whole Foods or homemade.  I posted some recipes with a recipe for seitan HERE.  The advantage o this canned stuff is shelf-life and COST!  It is so cheap & easy!  If you don’t have Asian grocers near you, the canned stuff is available online HERE.  I will report on the other two cans of stuff when I think of what to do with them.

As to this dish – crazy easy & outrageously delicious.  I like my food genuinely spicy so – if you do not – be sure to adjust the hot elements to suit your taste.

The seitan pork, though?  Totally convincing!  I think you could serve this dish to a meat eater & they would not question it.  You might want to call it chicken, if you have a real skeptic on your hands, because pork tends to be chewier than chicken but – whatever you decide – this will look like meat & taste like meat.  This recipe is killer!  And once your ingredients are prepped – it takes about 10 minutes.  EASY!

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Easy Vegan Thai Minced Pork with Holy (& Sweet) Basil – Pad Ga Prao Muu – in Lettuce Cups

Serves 2


20 oz (or so) seitan (or enough for 2 portions)

2 TBS coconut or olive oil

2 packed cups fresh Holy/hot and/or Thai/sweet basil

1-10 cloves garlic – chopped

2 shallots (or one small onion) – diced

4 red scallions (OPTIONAL!  I only used these because I had them) – sliced (bottoms only)

1 red bell pepper – seeded & sliced

1 cup carrots – matchsticks or sliced

1-10 red/green Thai chilies – split (I used 10 & this was very spicy)

1 serrano chili – diced (very optional)

2-3 TBS vegetarian oyster or mushroom sauce

3 TBS liquid aminos or low sodium soy sauce or tamari

1 tsp dark soy sauce (optional)

1 tsp sweet soy sauce (kecap manis) OR 2 tsp brown sugar

Lettuce leaves for cups (I used romaine but butter lettuce is nice, too)

GARNISH – lime wedges, cooked rice

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Prep everything because this comes together fast.  Whisk the liquid ingredients (oyster sauce, soy sauces) together.

Heat the oil in a large pan.  Add the shallots, chilies, scallions (if using), red bell, and carrots.  Saute until the peppers & carrots soften (maybe 5 minutes).

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Add the seitan & heat through.  Add the garlic & saute one minute.  Add the liquids & combine.  Stir in the basil & once it wilts – you are ready to serve.

Serve in lettuce cups or with rice & garnish with lime wedges.

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