WHEN TO EAT / WITH WHAT:
This stir-fry is basically just shrimp or chicken, red chillies (and/or red bell pepper for us Amurricans), the Holy Basil leaves, and an optional fried egg on top. And the option to eat over white rice. It’s quite quick and easy to make- a great staple for dinner or lunch.
When you want a fresh, salty-savory, fragrant one-bowl meal that is simple, yet seasoned well and herb-ed up with Thai flavors. Of the three S’ss the salt is abso-lutely the most dominant. This dish is one of the few Thai dishes where we don’t add any sourness. The fourth S – spicy is also usually dominant – as much as YU want it to be.
ASIAN CUISINE ROOTS:
Holy Basil Shrimp (in Thai: pad kaprow goong) or Holy Basil Chicken, (in Thai: pad krapao gai ผัดกระเพราไก่), is definitely in the TOP 5 Most Popular and most beloved street food dishes in ALL of Thai cuisine- you can find it all over Thailand in restaurants and being whipped up by street food vendors made to order.
The whole secret to this dish is the Holy basil, which unfortunately can be difficult to find in stores as the herb is delicate and doesn’t travel well- but it’s grown in California- so you just may have it at an Asian grocer near you! Try to find it, or you might as well grow it yourself! Search the Internet for ‘Holy Basil’ and ‘seeds’ and you can’t go wrong – it almost grows like weeds. It’s hard to find a good substitute this holy herb, but Thai restaurants in the US often substitute Thai sweet basil, so you can still make this recipe, and though it won’t have the peppery unique flavor of Holy Basil, it will still taste good.
OPTIONS FOR HOW TO COOK:
Before getting started on this Thai basil chicken recipe, often my very first step is to begin by cooking a pot of rice. That way it’s finished and freshly cooked as soon as the chicken and egg are ready.
Another way you can really elevate the flavor of this Thai basil chicken recipe is by using a mortar and pestle to hand grind your garlic and chilies. A garlic press would also do the job well.
Unlike mincing, grinding really releases all the juices and oils of the chilies and garlic and it brings out an extra depth of flavor, which in return makes the entire dish of chicken basil more vibrant, garlicky and spicy. You don’t need to crush the garlic and chilies down to a curry paste, but you’re just looking for just a coarse crush. But no worries if you don’t have a mortar and pestle, mincing is still adequate.
The first step is to fry the egg. Thai fried eggs are more like deep fried eggs, cooked in lots of oil. The extra oil gives them a lovely crispiness on the outside edges, and they taste so incredibly good mixed with the rice and chicken.
After the egg is finished cooking, lay it aside and get started cooking the chicken.
Finally, just like all of my Thai recipes, the ingredients listed (and the quantities) are a guide – it’s what I used – but use it loosely as a guide. Thai food is made to taste the way you want it to.
SUPER – BATCH METHOD:
IN A NUTSHELL – HOW WILL I BE MAKING THIS MAGIC HAPPEN?
- 1 Ib (500 g) de-veined shrimp
- 3-4 chicken breasts, cut into slices and chopped into bite-size chunks*
- 4 fried eggs (optional)
- 6 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
- 1 large shallot (or 2 small), minced
- 6 Bird’s eye chilies*
- 2 large mild red chilies, finely sliced slanted
- 1 onion, finely sliced
- 1-2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (or 4 if you’re cooking fried eggs)
- 1-2 tablespoons fish sauce (FIND YU- start with 1 T to test)
- 1 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 1½ tablespoons light soy sauce
- OPTIONAL: 6 tablespoons chicken stock*
- OPTIONAL: A few splashes of dark soy sauce
- OPTIONAL: 2 teaspoons coconut sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 20 Holy basil leaves
- Clean/cut meat: De-vein shrimp or cut chicken and set next to wok.
- Make a paste: In a small mortar, smash and grind the garlic into a paste, and add the chillies and shallot to grind as well**
- Mix sauce: In a cup/bowl, mix: oyster sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, stock/water and sugar.
- Cook the eggs first (if you’re making): Heat 4 T oil in wok/pan (on med-high heat) and when it’s hot, crack in the eggs. Let the eggs sizzle and fry/brown up on the edges (Thai style- just cook one side- no need to flip!) and cook to your preferred done-ness (runny yolk is taste :)
- Now cook the stir-fry: Turn the heat down a bit (medium heat) so you can be careful not to burn the garlic. There should still be enough oil in the pan- but if not, add 1 T oil more and fry the garlic/chili/shallot paste (~1min) just until the aromas are released.
- Turn heat back up (almost to High heat) and add the shrimp and onion and stir-fry for 30 seconds.
- Add the sauce mix. Stir-fry for 30 more seconds.
- Add the holy basil and the large mild chilies. Stir-fry for 30 more seconds.
- Check a piece of chicken or shrimp for doneness (cut a piece in half to see), and cook for ~1min more if not quite done. Repeat.
- Take a bite or a tiny sip of the sauce to check for flavor and adjust to FIND YU.
- Serve (with steamed jasmine rice and try a fried egg on top).
Chicken: You can use boneless chicken thighs or any cut of boneless chicken.
Chillies: Cut the “eat-me way” if you like real spicy, or keep whole (and can use less) if you don’t want too spicy!
Stock/water: you can choose to omit this if you don’t want you dish to be very saucy. In Thailand, they tend to make a more saucy dish for shrimp and not saucy for chicken- and that is My Umami!
**If you don’t have a mortar/pestle, you could use a mini blender/chopper or just chop everything with a knife, no problem.