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Low sodium stir fried pork with Thai basil

Updated: Jul 1, 2021

My low sodium take on one of my favorite Thai restaurant dishes, pad kra pow. This is an easy, versatile recipe that comes together quickly.

Servings: Makes 4 four-ounce servings Sodium: 67 mg sodium per serving Time: 30 minutes

Sauce Ingredients:

4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

2 heaping tablespoons sugar (I like dark brown, but light brown or white are fine)

1 tsp tamarind paste or puree (see TIPS below) OR 1 tablespoon unsalted tomato paste

1 teaspoon molasses

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar

1 tablespoon water

Alternatively, if you have my low sodium soy sauce substitute, you can make a sauce using it as follows:

4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

1 teaspoon tamarind paste or puree OR 1 tablespoon of unsalted tomato paste

1 tablespoon sugar (I like dark brown, but light brown or white are fine, too)

Other Ingredients:

1 pound ground pork (20% fat works best)

1/2 cup diced onions or shallots

4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

1-2 Thai chilis (optional)

1 tablespoon cooking oil

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 cups Thai Basil leaves

2 limes for serving

fried shallots for serving

1) Combine all Sauce Ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to dissolve sugar and cornstarch. Prepare all the remaining ingredients because this dish cooks up fast once you get started. Dice the shallots or onions, mince the garlic, wash the basil, get the pork ready.

2) Heat 1 tablespoon of cooking oil in a large wok or skillet and sauté the onions/shallots, garlic, and chili peppers on medium-high heat until just soft and brown, about 3-4 minutes. Add the pork and black pepper and break pork apart while it cooks over medium-high heat. Cook for about 6-7 minutes until the pork is fully cooked.

3) Give the sauce a quick stir again in case the cornstarch has settled, and add to meat. Your pan will be very hot so stir quickly to incorporate the sauce into the meat. Cook for about 1-2 minutes and then turn off the heat, then add the basil. The basil will wilt from the heat of the pork.

4) Serve hot over rice or noodles, like these pan-fried low sodium rice noodles, with lime juice, a dash of sesame oil, fried shallots, or chili garlic sauce.


-Tamarind adds a unique sour flavor that's different than the sourness of citrus or vinegar. You can buy whole tamarind pods and soak and extract the juice, or buy tamarind puree or pulp. I use this Glory Bee Tamarind Puree because I was able to buy it at my local Sprouts grocery store and there is no sodium. It's really smooth and has a nice flavor. Every tamarind paste/puree is going to taste a little different so you'll need to experiment a little if you have a different brand. And also make sure to check labels because some will have added salt. If you don't have tamarind paste, add an extra tablespoon of rice vinegar to the sauce.

-This is a very flexible recipe, you can easily add vegetables or use different meats. I've made this with fish, chicken, and tofu, and have added eggplants, sliced onions, and bell peppers. If you're adding more than 1 cup of vegetables, double the amount of sauce. The basil really adds so much flavor but you could also substitute for chopped green onions or cilantro.

-Here‘s what I mean by a “heaping tablespoon” of sugar for the sauce.

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