Thai basil pork belly is one of those incredibly simple, delicious recipes that offers a huge bang for your buck.
With just 10 ingredients and 15 minutes, you’ll have a restaurant quality meal. Put some rice on to cook, saute a simple green vegetable, and dinner’s on the table.
My Introduction to Thai Basil Pork Belly
I first had Thai basil pork belly at a Thai restaurant in Honolulu, Opal Thai. We arrived at the restaurant just in time to get seated before their afternoon closing. The dining room was clearing out, and the owner actually came over to our table for a conversation. He asked us about our experience with Thai food, our spice preferences, and what we were *planning* on ordering.
He then asked if it’d be ok for him to surprise us with some dishes of his choice. We agreed, and that’s how this magical dish landed on my plate. I’d had other Thai basil dishes before, but there was something about this version with luscious, crispy pork belly that took it to the next level.
At my first bite, I knew I wouldn’t be able to wait for a trip to Hawaii to eat it again. I’ll always be grateful to that chef/restaurant owner, who shares his food and culture so openly, and challenges his clientele to try something new.
One of Our Favorite Ingredients
If you’ve been a Woks of Life reader for a while, you know we love our Thai basil. And you do too! Our Thai Basil Chicken, Thai Basil Beef, and Vegan Thai Basil Stir-fry are all some of our most popular recipes.
Thai basil is a magical ingredient. It can instantly pump up the flavor of any protein or vegetable. Supported by some garlic, chilies, sugar, soy sauce, fish sauce, and oyster sauce, it creates a veritable symphony of distinctive flavor and texture.
This Thai basil pork belly recipe is modeled after our past Thai basil recipes, which isn’t a knock against it. It just goes to show that this formula can be applied to just about anything and made into a delicious dish. This pork belly version, however, is particularly special in my opinion!
Thai Basil Vs. Holy Basil
You can use Thai basil OR holy basil in this recipe. While “krapow” dishes like this are traditionally made with holy basil, Thai basil is more commonly available in Asian grocery stores here in the U.S.
Holy basil has a slightly more medicinal, clove-y flavor. While grow it in our garden for stir-fries, we understand it can be hard to come by otherwise.
We also understand that you may not have an Asian market near you selling fresh herbs and produce like Thai basil. If you’re wondering, “can I use regular basil?” I have to run counter to the food purists out there and say yes, you can.
The flavor will be different––not as strong or distinctive as Thai basil or holy basil––but it will still be tasty. Better than denying yourself this dish, I say!
Thai Basil Pork Belly: Recipe Instructions
In a wok over medium heat, add the oil, garlic, and chilies. Cook for 1 minute. Crank up the heat to high, and add the pork belly. Stir-fry until caramelized and a little crisp, 2 minutes.
Add the sugar, fish sauce, oyster sauce, and soy sauces. Stir-fry for 1 minute, and add the basil.
Stir-fry until the basil is wilted.
Thai Basil Pork Belly
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 5 cloves garlic (sliced)
- 3 Thai bird chilies (thinly sliced)
- 1 pound lean pork belly (thinly sliced)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 2 teaspoons oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce (or Thai thin soy sauce)
- 2 teaspoons Thai black soy sauce (or 1 teaspoon Chinese dark soy sauce)
- 1 1/2 cups holy basil or Thai basil leaves (packed)
- In a wok over medium heat, add the oil, garlic, and chilies. Cook for 1 minute. Crank up the heat to high, and add the pork belly. Stir-fry until caramelized and a little crisp, 2 minutes.
- Add the sugar, fish sauce, oyster sauce, and soy sauces. Stir-fry for 1 minute, and add the basil. Stir-fry until the basil is wilted. Serve immediately.