I crave Thai food quite often. Actually, I crave it so much that sometimes I find myself thinking, “What will happen if I move away from NYC?” “How will I get my Thai food?” These thoughts probably shouldn’t be at the top of my list for when I’d leave NYC, but you can’t really help the thoughts that come to you at two in the morning, can you?
At some point, I decided that it was time to listen to my two-in-the-morning self. Retrospectively, this has proved to be an often unwise decision, but, really, I needed to settle my Thai food worries once and for all.
Luckily for you and me, stir-fried basil chicken is one of the simplest and fastest of Thai dishes to cook. It takes 10 minutes to prepare your mise en place (prepping and measuring all of your ingredients), and about 10 minutes to cook the chicken. In these 20 minutes that it takes to make the Thai basil chicken, I also cook a pot of rice.
While the rice steams for the last 10 minutes (a very important step in cooking rice), I fry an egg and wash my dirty dishes. In just half an hour, I’ve made one of my favorite Thai foods, cooked a pot of rice, fried an egg, and have cleaned up my kitchen. It’s almost faster than delivery. So, grab a handful of fresh Thai basil, and get cooking!
Quick Thai Basil Chicken with Chiles, Garlic, & Shallots
Serves 2; 30 min cook time
Thai Basil Chicken
1 large shallot, peeled and quartered
10 garlic cloves, peeled
5-8 Thai bird chiles (don’t be afraid to use so many: frying the chiles makes it less spicy)
2 tablespoons sunflower oil (or other neutral vegetable oil with a high smoke point)
1 pound (500g) boneless, skinless chicken, cut to 1-inch pieces
1 cup packed Thai basil leaves (about a large handful)
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sweet dark soy sauce (thicker and darker than soy sauce, it is less salty, and slightly caramelized in flavor; don’t substitute it with regular or light soy sauce: *skip if you don’t have this)
1 teaspoon honey (if you prefer your Thai food a little on the sweet side, optional)
Mortar and pestle or mini food processor to mash the garlic, shallots, and chiles (you can use your knife to mince these instead)
Wok or large skillet
Mise en place
Prepare your sauce ingredients: mix the fish sauce, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sweet dark soy sauce, and honey in a small bowl. Set aside. Cut the chicken into 1-inch pieces. Peel the garlic, quarter the shallot, and de-stem the chiles.
Add the garlic, shallots, and green chiles to your mortar and pestle. Smash until everything has been mashed to a rough pulp (see picture above for guidance). If using a mini-food processor, process until roughly chopped (don’t make a paste). If using a knife, mince the garlic, shallots, and chiles.
Thai Basil Chicken
Heat your wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of oil. When the oil is simmering, add the smashed garlic, shallots, and chiles. Cook, constantly stirring, just until fragrant (30 seconds). Don’t let the garlic burn.
Add the chicken and sauce ingredients to the pan. Sir together, and cook until the chicken is cooked through (about 7-10 minutes). Add a couple of tablespoons of water if your sauce or chicken starts to burn.
Turn off the heat. Add a handful of fresh Thai basil leaves, and mix into the chicken just until the basil begins to wilt. Remove from heat, and serve with warm jasmine rice, and a crispy fried egg.
If you try any of my recipes, share on Instagram by using the hashtag #afsanaliza & tagging me at @afsana so I can see your creations!