Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Thai Chicken and Basil Stir-Fry

My garden has been really starting to pick up lately (*knock on wood*), overflowing (kinda) with parsley, cilantro, lettuce, and of course basil, which means that it's about high time that I start using some of my homegrown herbs/lettuce/(and maybe someday peppers).

After thinking about all the awesome stuff I want to do with basil- pesto, caprese salad, strawberry-basil ice cream, tomato-basil soup, et cetera, et cetera, I decided that to start out, a Thai-inspired chicken and basil stir-fry would be the way to go.  I've made a terrific riff on chicken-basil stir-fry before that uses shitake mushrooms (that I'll make sometime soon), but I wanted to try something a little different, and so I came across a few recipes through Tastespotting that sounded promising. They are actually very similar to the one that I've made in the past.  I love the both simplicity and complexity of this stir-fry.  On one hand you have only two main ingredients- chicken and basil- very simple, but then you have the flavorings which give your taste buds a workout- sweet and spicy at the same time.  It's really awesome!

Thai Chicken and Basil Stir-Fry
Source: Gimme Some Oven, originally adapted from Rasa Malaysia and No Recipes

2 Tbsp vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 "bird's eye" chilies, minced with seeds (or 2-3 jalapenos, if you can't find bird's eye chilies)
2 shallots (or 1 small onion), diced
10 oz. chicken (thigh or breast meat), ground or finely chopped
1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp brown sugar
1 big bunch Thai basil leaves, stems removed (or Sweet Italian Basil, if you can't find Thai Basil, or have regular basil growing in your garden!!)
2 dashes ground white pepper (or freshly ground black pepper, if you don't have white pepper)
Jasmine or Basmati rice for serving

1. Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat until hot.  Add oil, garlic, and chilies, and stir-fry about a minute, until the garlic is fragrant.
2. Add shallots, and stir-fry until they have wilted, about a minute more. 
3. Add chicken, and stir-fry until cooked.  
4. Add fish sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, and pepper, and stir-fry until the liquid is pretty much evaporated.
5. Add basil, and cook until basil is wilted, but still bright green- 30 seconds or so.

  • I  couldn't find Bird's Eye chilies- even at Whole Foods :(  But the jalapenos still tasted delicious.  Feel free to adjust the amount of peppers to your individual taste.  I'd omit the seeds if you like milder food.
  • Since I decided to make this recipe with my homegrown basil in mind, I used my Italian Basil rather than the Thai basil which has a slightly different flavor, and whose flavor is more stable when cooked, but I think that the Italian basil works just fine, and has great flavor in this dish.  I also decided to use some of my Red Rubin basil which has a slightly stronger flavor than the sweet basil, and worked awesomely in this dish as well!
  • I served my stir-fry over Jasmine rice, but you could serve this in lettuce wraps if you wanted to, or even over pasta.


  1. Just curious if you used the white pepper or black pepper? I am not a fan of white pepper although I've never bought white peppercorns, so i've never had it freshly ground but I don't care for it already ground in the container. Just looking for an opinion :) It looks delicious!!!

  2. I just used black pepper, because that's what I had on hand. I've never ever bought white pepper, and I'm actually not quite sure what it tastes like.... I suppose I'll have to taste it at some point to see for myself :)