This vegan stir-fry is quick and healthy and absolutely delicious! With a punchy sauce full of Thai flavours and a meaty texture from dried soya mince (TVP), it comes together in less than half an hour. It's an easy weeknight meal that will satisfy everyone in the family whether vegan, vegetarian or flexitarian! Also gluten-free!
This recipe comes from my previous love of the Thai classic dish, Pad Kra Pao Gai (which literally translates to Chicken with Thai Basil). It features on the menus of most Thai restaurants and is usually an extremely spicy dish with minced chicken and thai basil leaves. The thing I loved most about this dish was the combination of the chicken mince texture with the spicy, salty sauce and the intense aroma of thai basil.
I wanted to make a vegan version of Pad Kra Pao (also sometimes spelt gai ga pow or pad krapow) but all the recipes I found used tofu which just didn’t give the texture that I was wanting. I really wanted to replicate that minced chicken texture! Finally, I discovered that dried soy mince (TVP), once rehydrated, gave exactly the texture I was looking for! This recipe has all the flavours and texture of the much loved Thai classic but without the meat.
Why You Will Love This Recipe
This delicious Thai stir-fry is:
- Quick – it can be on the table in less than 30 minutes so it is perfect for mid-week dinners.
- Easy – just a bit of chopping and stir-frying!
- Healthy – no meat and lots more veggies than the original thai dish (gai krapow).
- Economical - soya mince (TVP) is a great inexpensive protein for your vegan kitchen!
- Versatile – chop and change the veggies for whatever you have in your kitchen. Frozen vegetables work well for this dish too!
- SO TASTY! – lots of lovely sweet, salty, spicy and umami flavours in this Thai classic!
- Vegan – this recipe uses rehydrated soya mince which gives the perfect texture to replicate the chicken mince that is usually found in this Thai dish.
- Gluten-free, dairy-free and nut-free.
- Dried Soya Mince – also known as Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), this is such a useful ingredient to keep in your pantry. Since it is dehydrated, it takes up less space and can be kept at room temperature in a cupboard. It is also usually cheaper than frozen vegan meat substitutes and has a long shelf life. Made from soy beans, TVP is loaded with protein and fibre as well as copper, magnesium, folate and thiamin (Healthline). So, it’s a really healthy addition to your food. I like it because it has more texture than, say, tofu and is much more similar to mince made from meat. However, the flavour is very bland so it’s only good in strong flavoured sauces like this one. You can usually find it in the supermarket or health food shops. (paid affiliate links)
- Onion – I use red onion but if you don’t have any, brown onion will be fine or even spring onion (scallions). If you choose to use spring onion instead, just add it at the same time as the garlic, ginger and chillies as it takes less time to cook than the red onion.
- Garlic & Ginger – Use fresh garlic cloves and grated ginger for the best flavour. The best way to finely grate the ginger is by using a microplane zester (if you don't have one, just chop it really small). You can use the same microplane to grate the garlic cloves as well, to avoid washing up the garlic crusher when just one piece of equipment will do! (paid affiliate link)
- Chillies – for authenticity, use Thai birds’ eye chillies. Be careful though, as they are fiery hot! Most thai recipes call for 15 or more of these chillies in this dish but I think for western palates, 2-3 is probably fine to feel the heat! Also, be careful to always remove the seeds so that you get the flavour without quite so much chilli heat. If you don’t like spicy food so much, use a less spicy chilli like a plain long red chilli or just omit the chilli altogether!
- Vegetables – I use red peppers (bell pepper), baby corn and green beans but you can use whichever vegetables you have in your kitchen. I always use frozen green beans in this stir fry instead of fresh, mainly because I find it more convenient. They cook very quickly in the stir fry but if you want to use fresh green beans instead, then add them a minute or so before the other vegetables so that they have a little longer to cook through.
- Thai basil – use fresh thai sweet basil leaves. They taste quite different from regular basil with an aniseed or liquorice taste. It is also very different from thai holy basil which has more of a peppery flavour and less of the anice and sweetness that thai sweet basil has. Use thai sweet basil if you can find it or holy basil if that’s all you can find. Unfortunately regular Italian basil will not work in this dish.
- Tamari – this is the Japanese version of soy sauce that is naturally gluten-free. You can use dark soy sauce if you don’t need to be gluten-free.
- Kecap manis (paid affiliate link) – this is an Indonesian sweet soy sauce that I always keep in my cupboard. There is a thai sweet soy sauce that you could use instead (but check if it is gluten-free) or you could substitute for coconut aminos. Alternatively, you could substitute for tamari and a little more maple syrup.
- Vegan fish sauce – I appreciate you may not be able to find this. Thai Taste make a really nice one that tastes very similar to fish sauce and I believe it is made from seaweed instead. However, if you can’t find it, you can substitute with lime juice instead. (paid affiliate links)
- Maple syrup – any sweet syrup will do, or you could use brown sugar or coconut sugar.
Please see the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post for full list of ingredients and their quantities.
How To Make This Recipe
This easy recipe is so simple. It is basically a quick stir-fry so, as with all stir-fries, you need to prepare all your ingredients first before starting to cook. Then when you start to do the cooking, it should come together in about 5 minutes!
First, prep your ingredients.
- Soak the dehydrated soy mince in boiling water for 15 minutes (or follow the instructions on the packet for rehydrating).
- Prep your vegetables:
- Peel and dice the red onion.
- Peel and slice (or grate) the garlic cloves and finely grate the ginger with a microplane grater.
- Dice the red pepper.
- Slice the baby corn (on the diagonal).
- Partially defrost the frozen green beans by placing in a colander and running under a tap for a few seconds. Shake to remove excess water.
- Remove the thai basil leaves from the stems.
- Mix the sauce ingredients together.
Then, start the stir-fry.
Step One - First dry-fry the rehydrated soy mince in a non-stick frying pan (skillet) with no oil over a medium heat, just to remove some of the excess water. This should only take a minute.
Then remove and set aside.
Step Two - Add the oil to the pan (no need to clean it out) and set over a medium-high heat. When hot, add the red onion and stir-fry for a couple of minutes until browned.
Then, add the garlic, ginger and chillies and fry for a minute, stirring constantly.
Next, add the vegetables and stir-fry for another 2 minutes.
Add the soy mince and the sauce and stir-fry for 2 minutes until well mixed and glossy brown
Finally, turn the heat off, add the thai basil and stir through until the thai basil leaves wilt.
This is a summary only. Please see the printable recipe card at the bottom of this page for full instructions.
- As for all stir fries, always prepare all your ingredients before starting to cook. This is a fast method of cooking that needs constant attention (stirring) so you don’t have time to chop other vegetables while cooking!
- Chop the vegetables into small pieces so that they are roughly the same size as the mince. This makes it more visually pleasing and means that they cook quickly.
- You can use the sauce ingredients from this thai basil stir-fry recipe for any stir fry dishes so bookmark it as a general stir fry sauce!
Serve this thai basil vegan mince stir-fry with some steamed jasmine rice or rice noodles for a delicious quick mid-week vegan meal. (Or if you have a little more time, you could go for the healthier option of brown rice with this stir-fry.) Garnish with a few more thai basil leaves.
Alternatively, you could serve it with some crisp lettuce leaves for a fun and tasty starter in a thai themed dinner party (served like this vegan san choy bau recipe) with some sesame seeds scattered on top.
- Vegetables - You can substitute any of the vegetables for other vegetables you prefer. Broccoli (chopped up small) would work well as would grated carrot or mushrooms, sweetcorn or peas.
- Protein – For the protein, I use dried soya mince (TVP) in this recipe. You could easily substitute this ingredient with frozen soy mince or extra firm tofu instead. If you do this, just press the block of tofu really well to get rid of as much moisture as possible (either with a tofu press or by pressing it on kitchen towel with a heavy object on top), and then crumble the tofu with your hands to make it resemble the shape and size of mince. Then follow the recipe but fry off the tofu crumbles in a little oil instead of dry like you would for the dried soya mince.
- Chilli – The beauty of eating this dish at home is that you can control the heat to exactly how you like it. The chilli balances out the sweet and salty flavours but it is equally delicious without it if you’re not a fan of spicy food! If you are cooking for children or for people who don’t eat spicy food, just reduce or take out the chilli entirely! You could also switch to milder chillies instead (like the long red chillis which are much milder than the fiery hot Birds Eye chillies). You can even take out the chilli altogether and anyone who does want it spicy can add chilli oil or hot sauce to their portion.
- For being ultra-quick, you can save yourself the effort of chopping the garlic and chilli by substituting with teaspoon or two ready-made chili-garlic sauce instead.
Making Ahead & Storage
If you make this vegan pad krapow ahead, don’t add the thai basil when you first make it. When you re-heat it, heat up the mixture in a frying pan, stirring frequently, and then add the thai basil to wilt before serving immediately.
You can keep any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for 3 months.
They are actually two different species of plants, even though they look quite similar. Thai sweet basil looks more like regular Italian basil but with quite a different flavour. It has an aniseed or liquorice flavour with sweet overtones. Thai holy basil looks like a cross between thai basil and rocket (arugula) and has a peppery flavour like rocket too. It has a milder aniseed flavour than Thai sweet basil. It also has a slightly textured, almost furry feel to the leaf whereas thai sweet basil is glossy and smooth like regular basil.
Not really unfortunately. Regular (Italian) basil has quite a different flavour to Thai basil and lacks the aniseed, liquorice taste that is so dominant in this dish.
📖 Recipe 📖
Thai Basil Vegan Mince Stir-Fry
- 100 g dried soya mince (TVP)
- 2 tablespoon grapeseed oil, (or other flavourless oil)
- 1 red onion
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 2 birds eye red chillies
- 1 red bell pepper
- 200 g frozen green beans, (or fresh)
- 100 g baby corn, (or sweetcorn)
- 40-50 g thai sweet basil, (a large handful)
- 2 tablespoon tamari, (or gluten-free soy sauce)
- 1 tablespoon kecap manis, (or Thai sweet soy sauce)
- 1 tablespoon vegan fish sauce, (or lime juice)
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup, (or brown sugar or coconut sugar)
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- Prep all your ingredients:a) Follow the packet instructions to rehydrate your dehydrated soya mince. You usually have to soak it in boiling water for 12-15 minutes.b) Peel and dice the red onion. Dice the red bell pepper and thinly slice the baby corn on the diagonal. Remove the thai basil leaves from the stem.c) Peel and finely grate the garlic (or slice it) and ginger with a microplane.d) Slice the red chilli in half lengthways, then scrape out the seeds, and finely dice.e) Partially defrost the green beans by putting them in a colander and running them under a tap for a couple of seconds, to wash away the ice. Shake off the excess water. f) Mix the sauce ingredients (see ingredients below) in a cup or a small jug.2 tablespoon tamari, 1 tablespoon kecap manis, 1 tablespoon vegan fish sauce, 1 teaspoon maple syrup, ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- Drain the soya mince, rinse and shake off any excess water in the colander. Then dry fry the mince in a large non-stick frying pan, wok or skillet set over a medium heat. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, to remove some of the excess water from the mince. Then set aside in a bowl.100 g dried soya mince (TVP)
- Stir-fry:Pour the grapeseed oil in the frying pan and turn the heat up to medium-high. Once the oil is hot, add the chopped onion. Stir-fry for 2 minutes until browned. Then add the garlic, ginger and chilli and continue to stir-fry for another 1 minute.Add the red pepper, green beans, and baby corn and stir-fry for another 2 minutes. Then add the soya mince (TVP) and the sauce and stir over the heat for a further 1 minute. Throw in the thai basil leaves and stir into the mixture until the leaves visibly wilt and go soft and dark green.2 tablespoon grapeseed oil, 1 red onion, 4 garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon grated ginger, 2 birds eye red chillies, 1 red bell pepper, 200 g frozen green beans, 100 g baby corn, 40-50 g thai sweet basil
- Serve immediately with some steamed rice and extra Thai basil leaves for garnish.
- Adjust the chili heat by using more or less chillis or by using a milder chilli like long red chillis instead. This is a moderate spice level for a western palate.
- As with all stir-fries, you must prepare all ingredients before you start to cook.
- You can use frozen vegan mince instead of the rehydrated soya mince. Use double the amount in the recipe (since it doesn't need to be rehydrated). Alternatively, you can use extra firm tofu, pressed and crumbled.
- If you are using fresh green beans instead of frozen, you will need to give them a minute longer to cook so add them at the same time as the garlic, ginger and chilies. Prep the fresh green beans by topping and tailing them (cutting off the ends) and cutting into 3 pieces each.
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a ⭐ star rating ⭐ on the recipe card!
If you like this Thai basil vegan stir-fry recipe, you may like these other delicious vegan and gluten-free main course recipes too: