10 February 2012

Chicken with Thai Basil and Chillies

One of my favourite Thai dishes is Gai Pad Kra-Pao - chicken stir fried with thai basil and chillies. I love the aniseedy sweet taste of thai basil, it's deep rich colour, and nose wrinkling fragrance. The traditional Gai Pad Kra-Pao is quite simply flavoured with lashings of fish sauce, buckets of garlic and a good wallop of chili.

In my house, fish sauce is something that is met with an upturned nose and an adamant refusal to eat whatever it is I'm cooking (and that's just hubby - I haven't tried the little chefs on it yet), so I relent in this dish and use oyster sauce and soy sauce for the saltiness instead. I also like to add a decent dollop of minced ginger, because it really enhances the other flavours in the dish, and I throw in a handful of chopped spring onions. What results is something vaguely resembling the original dish, and full of the flavours we love. Just as a note, I add the chillies last after I've already dished out the little chefs meals.

You can use Thai holy basil for this, but I prefer Thai Sweet Basil, it has rich green leaves on purple stems. For those in Doha, you can find it in Megamart - they receive their Asian vegetables on a Thursday afternoon so Friday morning is a great time to buy it.

There is no substitute for Thai Basil, so if you can't find it, save this recipe for another day. If you have Thai Basil left over, take it off the stems lay it on tissue paper or kitchen towel, roll it up, pop into a plastic bag and freeze to use in thai curries.

Chicken with Thai Basil and Chillies

  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3cm piece of ginger, minced
  • 500 grams minced chicken
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped spring onions
  • 1 cup lightly packed thai basil leaves
  • 1/2 red capsicum finely chopped
  • 2 thai chillies, deseeded and finely chopped (use more or less to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil

  1. Put the oil, garlic and ginger in a wok and heat over a high heat. When the garlic and ginger are sizzling add the chicken and stir until cooked.
  2. Add the spring onions and capsicum and fry for a few minutes more.
  3. Combine the sauces and sugar and add to the pan, stirring to coat, add in the chopped chillies and thai basil and cook for a minute until the basil is wilted. 
  4. Taste. Add more chillies and sugar if required.
  5. Serve over steamed rice.

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