Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Spicy Basil Chicken

I miss Thai food. I mean, I have access to a few amazing Thai restaurants but in college, I had access to three delicious Thai restaurants, all within walking distance of my apartment. Taste of Thai has the best pineapple fried rice with tons of cashews and bits of Chinese sausage. Asian Noodle House has awesome spicy basil fried rice. And Little Thai House has this really good spicy soft tofu. I miss that.

Anyway, one of the reasons that I love Thai food is because of the ingredient, Thai basil. Thai basil is so fragrant and delicious and adds so much to Thai dishes. Thai basil and sweet basil are not interchangeable, in my opinion. Sweet basil - a.k.a. the stuff you put in caprese salads - has a sweet, anise-y, tarragon-y, almost licorice-y flavor (but in a good way because licorice itself sucks). Thai basil has purple stems and has a sweet, spicy, minty flavor and it releases so much flavor when it's heated up. Unfortunately, my local grocery store rarely has Thai basil in stock so I've had to resort to substituting in some sweet basil and mint, which is yummy but just not the same thing. That being said, if you don't have access to Thai basil and you want to make this recipe, you can use sweet basil and mint.

Today's recipe features plenty of Thai basil. It's my take on pad krapow, which is a spicy basil dish made with a variety of proteins - in this case, I went with chicken. We actually went and bought a little Thai basil plant and it's sitting happily in our indoor herb garden. I plan on keeping that thing alive forever, just so I can make yummy Thai food forever.
Ingredients:
hot chilis (thai chili, serrano peppers, jalapeno peppers, etc.) - use fewer for less spice, more for more
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ onion, sliced
4 baby bell peppers, chopped (or 1 regular sized bell pepper)
1 package oyster mushrooms
bunch of Thai basil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon oil
+ 1 lb. chicken or protein of your choice, e.g. turkey, beef, pork, shrimp, scallop, or if you want to go vegetarian, you can use tofu or seitan
+ jasmine rice

First things first, mix together the "sauce" ingredients: the soy sauce, the sugar, and the fish sauce.
Next, prep up all the veggies. Slice up some onion, cut up the bell peppers, finely slice the spicy chilis, mince the garlic, and tear up the oyster mushrooms. Also, dice up your chicken, or whatever protein you're using into bite-sized pieces. Honestly, you can use any combination of vegetables that you really like. Broccoli, asparagus, cabbage, celery, cauliflower (which personally I hate but hey, maybe you love it), sugar snap peas, carrots, squash, whatever you like!
Now, let's get cooking! Add a little oil to your pan and place over a medium high heat. You can use a wok, but I'm not a fan of woks. I just like a plain ol' nonstick skillet. Throw the garlic and hot peppers into the oil. The goal is to infuse the oil with the flavors of the garlic and the heat from the peppers. Then, add in the onions and let them start to get soft. Toss in the bell peppers and mushrooms and get those guys nice and soft as well. Next, chuck in your protein. If you're using meat that needs to be 100% cooked (e.g. chicken) make sure it's cooked through. The second to last step is to pour in the sauce. Mix everything together and let the flavors meld for about five minutes.
The last glorious step is to throw in the Thai basil. Add as little or as much as you want - I like to add in a decent amount - enough to color the dish with plenty of green bits.
Ooh, and don't forget to make some jasmine rice. You can't have chicken krapow without jasmine rice!
Plop a mound of rice on your plate, throw some of the yummy pad krapow on top, and spoon on a bit of the sauce as well. Oh, and garnish with a little extra basil too, please. It's delicious, yo. It's sweet and savory and spicy and the basil adds an overwhelming amount of amazing flavor. By the way, how much do you love this dumb super Asian looking plate I whipped out for these finished food photos? We have matching bowls too, haha. My mama bought a set of two green and two blue bowls and plates and our family used to eat off of them. We probably looked so corny.

Anyway, please make this! It's so good, I promise you'll like it.
Here's the recipe page:

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