Sunday, January 15, 2012
Thai Basil Chicken
The spicy, herb-y flavors of this were a definite hit. I am not even 100% certain I made it correctly. Cook Illustrated had said to use "hot basil". They were specific to not use Italian basil, or Thai basil. But I could not find hot basil, so I bought Thai basil. Also, they said to stem the Thai chiles. It didn't say anything about seeding the chiles. It also said it was a mild spicy, not too spicy. So I figured maybe Thai chiles just aren't very spicy. And I only took the stems off and didn't seed them. HOLY HOT! It was more than mild spicy. Next time, I will seed the chiles.
I made a few other mistakes along the way. The recipe said to reserve one cup of the basil to stir into the finished dish at the end. I forgot to do that and ended up chopping both cups of basil into the base of the sauce. It may not have made that much a difference in flavor. It was definitely full of sweet basil flavor that finished with the spicy chile. Finished with the armomatic Jasmine rice, this is sure to become a new family favorite. (Well, a hit among the adults, anyhow. I made the kids a safety dish, since this was so spicy. But Liam took a try of it and seemed to not mind the heat.)
I thought it was a lot of prep work to get it together, but it came together quickly in the skillet. And while it was hot the first night (I ate mine with a glass of milk to cool the capsaicin), I thought the leftovers were much more mild. When Nico finally took the last bit of it one day for lunch, I was jealous. Guess I'll just have to make more!
recipe adapted in procedure only, courtesy of Cooks Illustrated January/February 2010
2 cups fresh Thai basil leaves, tightly packed
3 medium garlic cloves, peeled
6 green or red Thai chiles, stemmed and seeded
2 Tablespoons fish sauce (can be found in international markets or online)
1 Tablespoon oyster sauce (can be found in international markets or online)
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 2 inch pieces
3 medium shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
red pepper flakes for serving (optional, I did not use it because it was hot enough!)
Process basil leaves, garlic and chiles in a food processor until finely chopped, 6 to 10 one second pulses. Scrape down the bowl and pulse some more if needed. Transfer 1 tablespoon of basil mixture to a small bowl and stir in 1 Tablespoon fish sauce, oyster sauce, vinegar, and sugar. Transfer remaining basil mixture to 12 inch heavy bottomed skillet. Do not wash the food processor.
Pulse chicken and 1 tablespoon fish sauce in food processor until meat is chopped into approximately 1/4 inch pieces. Transfer to a medium bowl and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Stir shallots and oil into basil mixture in skillet. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until garlic and shallots are golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes.
Add the chicken, increase heat to medium, and cook, stirring and breaking up the chicken with a wooden spoon until only traces of pink remain. Add reserved basil-fish sauce mixture and continue to cook, stirring constantly until chicken is no longer pink, about 1 minute. Serve immediately with jasmine rice and pass extra fish sauce and red pepper flakes to sprinkle on top.