How to make Pad Phet Gai, a Thai-Malaysian spicy chicken stir fry dish.
This is Pad Phet Gai, (Pad Phet Chicken / Phat Phet Gai / Pad Ped Gai) or Thai-Malaysian spicy chicken Stir Fry. Pad Phet Gai literally translates to Fried Chilli Chicken.
Pad = Stir Fry
Phet = Chilli or Spicy
Gai = Chicken
Pad Phet Gai is my current favourite dish to serve with rice! This is spicy, ultra fragrant and aromatic, and so addictively delicious!
Thai vs Malaysian Pad Phet Gai
I referred to this as a Thai-Malaysian dish, because it’s one of those dishes that Malaysians adapted into their cuisine, and made it their own. Other Thai-Malaysian dishes include Ayam Pad Prik (Pad Prik Chicken Stir Fry) and Nasi Pattaya (Omelette-wrapped Fried Rice).
The base ingredients for Malaysian Pad Phet and Thai Pad Phet are similar, with just one key difference: Thai Pad Phet dishes usually includes a curry paste of some sort. This Thai-Malaysian version does not.
Another difference is in the use of turmeric. The Malaysian version often includes fresh turmeric or its powder form. The Thai version however does not usually include turmeric.
What Type of Chicken To Use?
I used bone-in chicken, because that is what the Malaysian version typically uses. If this is the Thai version, highly like the protein used will be minced or in smaller, boneless pieces.
Feel free to use cubed chicken instead of bone-in! It’s my usual go-to. That said, I have to say using bone-in chicken has a lot more flavour, plus it looks more impressive.
Key Ingredients to make Pad Phet Gai
This dish is incredibly easy to make – the hardest part in fact is in rounding up the base ingredients. These are Southeast Asian pantry staples, and can easily be found at Asian markets.
Kaffir Lime Leaves: This is probably the most important ingredient in Pad Phet Gai. Kaffir Lime Leaves add so much fragrance and flavour to the dish. If you’re in the West, there’s a high chance these might not come easily. Try to find them online. They are usually sold in big packets, but you can freeze these! I always do! If you really can’t find this, then grate the rind of a lime or lemon.
Lemongrass: Lemongrass is another key ingredient, and this adds fragrance as well. We only need the white inner core. To prepare this, cut off the tops, and the root bottom, and peel the hard outer layer. Then slice the inner white core thinly, it should slice easily. Watch the video for a closer look at this!
Bird’s Eye Chillies: It’s not Pad Phet Gai if there’s no spice! The Bird’s Eye Chillies add that all-important heat. Real Pad Ped Gai uses solely bird’s eye chillies – in this recipe, you would notice I added red and green spur chillies instead for a much milder heat. I look it, but I’m actually not that fantastic with spice. The spur chillies add a mild, sweet spice to the dish, while still making it look ‘correct’. If you are big on spice, then go ahead and use just bird’s eye chillies!
Turmeric: In this recipe, I used fresh turmeric. You can in fact replace this with turmeric powder, which is a lot more accessible. I usually use turmeric powder.
The other ingredients that make up the base paste would be your standard onions or shallots, garlic and ginger. Blitz all of this ingredients in food processor to get a fine, rough chop. Alternatively you can flex those muscles and use a pestle and mortar.
You can also use a blender if that’s all you have. Do note you’ll get a paste, rather than a rough consistency.
Pre-Frying the Chicken
I only make Pad Ped Gai this way: by frying the chicken pieces first! This takes an extra step, but it makes a big difference to me. Frying the turmeric-marinated chicken first will solidify the texture of the chicken. I find that frying it first, deepens the flavour of the turmeric. This is helpful especially if you’re not marinating the chicken overnight. Frying it till golden and cooked will remove that sort of ‘fishy’ chicken flavour.
This is optional though. Not frying it first will undoubtedly save you a couple of steps and some time, but do note you’ll have a mushier chicken texture.
What are Dried Tamarind Slices?
Tamarind slices or Asam Gelugur or Asam Keping is a common ingredient used in Malay, Thai and Indian cuisine. It’s a souring agent for dishes.
Confusingly enough, this is not the same as Tamarind Pulp or Asam, even though it is also a souring agent. They both come from different trees. Tamarind slices are the dried fruit of the Asam Gelugur tree, while tamarind pulp is the fruit of the tamarind tree.
You can definitely replace tamarind slices with tamarind pulp. Dried tamarind slices are a lot more sharper in terms of sourness, while tamarind pulp has a more mellow, sweet sourness. For this recipe, use 1 tsp of concentrated tamarind paste in place of the tamarind slices. If you have neither, then simply use vinegar to add that tang.
More Recipes Like This:
If you love this recipe, you might enjoy these too:
- Indonesian White Chicken Curry | Opor Ayam
- Three-Flavoured Chicken | Ayam Tiga Rasa
- Spicy Turmeric Chicken | Ayam Masak Lemak Cili Padi
- Spicy Indonesian Chicken | Ayam Rica Rica
Pad Phet Gai | Thai Spicy Chicken Stir FryCourse: Recipes
600g or 1/2 a Chicken
1 tbsp Turmeric Powder
1 tsp Salt
1/ cup Cooking Oil, for frying
- Aromatic Base, blitz together:
1 medium bulb Onion
2-3 cloves Garlic
10g or 1-inch Ginger
3 stalks Lemongrass, white inner core
10g Fresh turmeric or 1 tsp of turmeric powder
2 Thai Bird’s Eye Chillies*
4 Red or Green Spur Chillies*
10 Makrut Lime Leaves
- Other Ingredients:
2 Dried Tamarind Slices / Asam Gelugur / Asam Keping
1 tbsp Fish Sauce
1/2 tsp Salt, or to taste
1 tsp Palm Sugar (or regular sugar)
1/2 cup Water
100g Long beans
- Processing the Base
- Roughly chop the ingredients for the aromatic base for easier processing. Use a food processor to pulse or blitz together the ingredients to get a rough paste. Alternatively, use a pestle and mortar. You can also use a blender, but you will get a creamy paste.
- Pre-frying Chicken
- Marinate the chicken with turmeric powder and salt. Mix together to combine and allow to marinate for about 10 minutes, or overnight.
- Add enough oil to a pan for frying and heat at a medium heat. Once hot, fry the chicken until cooked. It should take about 10 minutes.
- Once chicken is cooked, take it off the oil and keep to one side.
- Making the Dish
- Using the same pan and oil, remove some of the oil until you have about 3-4 tbsps of oil leftover. Turn on the heat again at a medium.
- Once hot, add the aromatic base. Stir fry to thoroughly cook the base. Continuously stir until aromatic, and onions and chillies begin to soften and wilt.
- Add the dried tamarind slices and give a quick stir.
- Add water, fish sauce, salt, sugar and stir to combine. Allow the sauce to come to a boil.
- Add back the fried chicken and the long beans. Stir the chicken in with the sauce to combine for about 5 minutes or so, and serve!
- *I used a mixture of bird’s eye chillies and spur chillies so it’s not too spicy. If you’re good with spice, feel free to omit the spur chillies altogether and use 8-10 bird’s eye chillies instead!