I am obsessed… OBSESSED with this dish. The first time I had Thai food was years and years ago in New York City with a friend of mine at a trendy little place called Peep. Liz suggested the Basil Chicken dish and since I didn’t know anything about what I was getting, I took her advice… fast forward to today and that’s still the only thing I ever order when I have Thai food. I always say I’m going to try something else, since I love all the traditional Thai flavors like coconut, peppers and lemongrass, but I never waver from my first choice.
The ingredients were simple, so I figured it wouldn’t be too hard to replicate at home and I’m always up for a challenge. I got a recipe from a friend, let it sit in my inbox for a few months, and finally got around to taking a trip to the Asian market for the most important ingredient. The key to making good Thai basil chicken is, wait for it… Thai basil. And it’s cheap! One trip to the market, $3 later, and I’m the proud owner of a HUGE bag of Thai basil leaves. (Note: Thai basil doesn’t taste or smell like the regular basil you’re used to… make sure you get it if you want to make this recipe! I’ve read that if you can’t find Thai basil the best substitute is mint. You’ll notice Thai basil has a really wonderful minty aroma!)
When I say this was easy, I’m not exaggerating. It’s not like mac and cheese easy, but if you can chop some vegetables, you can make this. You probably have most of the ingredients in your house right now. If you don’t love it, then I don’t know if we can be friends anymore. I’ve made a couple changes from the original recipe, but nothing to alter the flavor!
Here’s the recipe:
NOTE: I use grapeseed oil, because it’s one of the healthiest oils, but you can use any high-heating oil, like peanut, safflower or sesame. I also chiffonade the basil leaves, but you can leave them whole if you’d like.
6 garlic cloves, minced or sliced very thin
1/2-1 yellow onion, sliced
1-2 jalapeno peppers, minced (substitute green peppers if you don’t want heat or add them in addition to the jalapenos. Two peppers with the seeds will be pretty spicy!)
1 teaspoon peppercorns
1 tablespoon oil
1 lb. sliced chicken
1/4 cup fish sauce (you can find this in the Asian section of most supermarkets)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup hot basil leaves (bai-ga prow)
Place the garlic, peppers and peppercorns into a mortar and mash with a pestle until a paste is formed.
Heat a large saute pan to medium-high heat and add the oil. Add the garlic paste and stir for 1 minute, then add the chicken, onions, fish sauce and sugar. Continue to cook until the chicken is cooked and sauce has reduced. Toss in the basil leaves, serve over rice and ENJOY!
If you make this, let me know! Excuse the poor cell phone picture…I really have to keep my camera a little closer!