I remember the very first time I was introduced to Thai food. I was about 13 and on our family vacation in Bangkok. I have fond memories of those five days; most of which revolve around the culture and shopping in Thailand and none, unfortunately of its cuisine. You see, my Dad is not in the least adventurous when it comes to his food. The man wants his Dal-Roti-Sabzi no matter where he is, and will stop at nothing to find it! So needless to say, while in Thailand we religiously avoided all the street food and ate a lot of meals of our meals at Mrs. Balbir’s. The food there, from what I remember was absolutely delicious. Authentic north Indian cuisine in the heart of Bangkok.
It was on one such visit that my Mom decided she wanted to try something representative of the country we were visiting and opted for a bowl of Tom Yum Soup while the rest of us dug into our Chicken Curry and Dal Makhani. Now, for those of you who’ve followed my blog since the very beginning, know that my Mom is a Malaysian. And Malaysians are nothing if not known for their lip-smacking spicy food – for the most part at least. So my Mom, like a true-bred Malay took and big slurp of the piping hot soup and almost cried in pain! I couldn’t resist and HAD to see what the hoopla was all about. But I wanted to be careful, so only took about a third of the spoon. Boy, were my ears on fire! It was probably the spiciest thing I’ve eaten my entire life!! But that was years ago in Thailand. Thai food in other countries is much more tamed in spice level but just as authentic and delicious in flavour.
Hubby Dear and I have always been huge fans of Thai food and love to try out any new establishment that opens near to where we are. Over the years, we’ve settled on our favourites and are now quite critical on how the dishes we prefer taste. Baby Dear, being the budding food connoisseur that he is, is a die-hard fan of Pad Thai – the tangier, the better. I love my Green Curry with tons of gravy and veggies, and Hubby Dear often shuttles between Pad Thai loaded with peanuts (at times even more nuts than noodles!) or a spicy Cashew Chicken. But one dish that we MUST always order for the table is Basil Chicken. That is, of course, until I tried my hand at making it this week. I can now honestly say that we can cross out Basil Chicken from our future orders and substitute it with an extra plate of Papaya Salad.
This recipe is also a perfect candidate for a quick week-night meal served with some plain rice and sliced fresh cucumbers on the side.
THAI BASIL CHICKEN
PREP TIME: 10 MIN | COOKING TIME: 10 MIN | SERVES: 2-4 AS MAIN, 6 AS SIDE
2 tbsp light cooking oil
6 boneless chicken things, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 medium red pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium green pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp white pepper powder
2 tbsp light soy sauce
a big handful of fresh Thai basil, roughly torn
salt and pepper, to taste
Heat a tbsp of oil in a large wok on high heat, add stir-fry chicken for 2-3 minutes till lightly browned. Remove from wok and set aside.
Add in remaining oil and add garlic and ginger, and fry for a few seconds till fragrant. Add in onions and peppers and stir-fry for a minute or two till onions become transparent.
Add in browned chicken and white pepper, and stir fry to mix everything well. Add in soy sauce and fresh basil and stir-fry for another minute or two.
Season with salt and pepper, and serve warm with a side of rice.
NOTES: The flavour comes from the fresh Thai basil, so if you’re using Italian or any other kind of basil keep in mind that the taste may vary slightly.
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