Thai Basil Chicken

Oh my… oh my… I just got my CSA box and there’s a fragrant bag of fresh basil in it.  Tonight I think I’m going to make some Thai Basil Chicken.  It’s often served in restaurants with chicken that has been ground like hamburger meat… I do prefer boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

This one has never failed to disappoint.  I prefer the Italian basil like I got at the CSA to the Thai Holy Basil in this recipe because the Thai Holy Basil tastes a lot like licorice to me.

Thai Basil Chicken
 
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Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Thai
Dish out a plate of freshly steamed jasmine rice, scoop the hot Thai basil chicken (pad kra pao gai ?????????????) onto one side of the rice, and nestle your fried egg on the other side of the plate. And there you have one of the most widely beloved Thai street food dishes.
Ingredients
For the egg
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons of oil for frying
Basil chicken
  • 1 chicken breast (or any other cut of boneless chicken, about 200 grams)
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 4 Thai chilies
  • 1 tablespoon oil for frying
  • 1 teaspoon of oyster sauce
  • ½ teaspoon light soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 splash of dark soy sauce
  • 1 handful of Thai holy basil leaves
Instructions
First, fry the egg
  1. Heat about 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a wok or frying pan on high-medium heat.
  2. When the oil is hot and sizzling, drop in the egg. Let it sizzle and bubble up, and at the same time, splash some of the hot oil onto the top of the egg (don't flip the egg, unless you really want to).
  3. After the egg looks about right to your cooked likeness, take it out, drain the excess oil, and put it on a plate for later. (I usually skip the egg)
Thai Basil Chicken
  1. Cut the chicken into small bite sized pieces.
  2. Rinse and peel the garlic and chilies, and pound them in a mortar and pestle (alternatively you can just mince them with a knife). They don't need to be super fine, you just want to bring out the oils and flavors from the garlic and chilies.
  3. Pluck a good sized handful of holy basil leaves off the stems.
  4. Now it's time to start cooking. Heat your wok on high heat, and add about 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan.
  5. When the oil is hot, add the chilies and garlic. Stir fry them for about 20 seconds or so until they get really fragrant, but don't let them burn or get too dry.
  6. Toss in your chicken. Keep stir frying continuously. At this stage you want to continue to stir and cook your chicken until it's just about fully cooked all the way through (depending on the size pieces of chicken and how hot your fire is, it should take about 2 - 3 minutes). If it starts to get dry, add just a tiny splash of water.
  7. Add 1 teaspoon of oyster sauce, ½ teaspoon light soy sauce, ½ teaspoon sugar, and finally a splash of dark soy sauce. Keep stir frying for about another 30 seconds.
  8. Grab a handful of holy basil, toss it into the pan, fold it into the chicken, and then immediately turn off the heat (if you're using an electric stove, you'll want to remove the pan from the burner). The holy basil really only needs to cook for about 5 seconds, and it will continue to wilt and cook from the existing heat of the chicken. This step is important because if you cook the basil for too long, it loses some of its glorious flavor and gets slightly chewy.
Notes
Make sure your rice is cooked and ready to be served before you start cooking... believe me on this one, because there's nothing more disappointing than finishing a pan of pad kra pao gai (?????????????) only to realize your rice isn't cooked yet!

Remember that the ingredients listed here are just a guide - they are the amounts I used - but you should really taste test all the Thai food you cook, and make it according to the way you like it!

 

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