Cooking with Carol: Basil Chicken
My mom and I made dinner tonight and decided on a basic Thai recipe we could modify: basil chicken. With her granny cart in tow, we walked over to Jewel to buy the ingredients. As Jewel did not stock a few things, we ventured north to Golden Pacific Market in Edgewater where we picked up Thai basil and garlic chili sauce. Thai basil differs from traditional basil in that it retains more of its original texture and flavor when cooked at high temperatures. It also has red stems and smells like anise, which reminded my mom of black licorice and me of these cookies.
Rice - Prepare desired amount of Jasmine rice according to package directions. Once cooked, stir in a few tablespoons of coconut milk.
Basil Sauce - Combine basil, fish sauce, and chili sauce in a food processor. Pulse until basil is finely chopped. Add coconut milk and pulse until well-blended.
- 1 cup of fresh Thai basil, packed down (this is more than you think)
- 2 T fish sauce (so aromatic)
- 2-3 T chili garlic sauce (substitute chili pineapple sauce for milder flavor)
- 1 can coconut milk (2-4 T reserved)
Main Dish - Heat the sesame oil over medium heat until glimmering. Add garlic and sauté about a minute, taking care not to burn the garlic. Add onions and sauté another minute. Add the chicken and cook until nearly done - stir frequently for about three minutes, or until pink color disappears. Add the red pepper and mix until just soft. Cover with the basil sauce and simmer, uncovered, for 3-5 minutes. Serve over Jasmine rice.
- 2 T sesame oil
- A few cloves of garlic, minced (I used seven…and peeled them with a handy rubber roller)
- One sweet onion, cut into thin slices
- 1-2 red peppers, cut into thin slices
- 2-4 chicken breasts (cut into small cubes or strips)
My mom is not a fan of spice (or garlic, peppers and onions) so we made sure to finely mince the garlic. We also sliced, rather than diced, the peppers and onions so she could avoid eating them. Instead of using garlic chili sauce as the recipe called for, we used garlic pineapple sauce, which complemented the sweet flavor of the coconut milk. After the dish was finished, I stirred in some garlic chili sauce into my own serving for spice level 4.
For those who like a kick: add fresh whole red chilies during the simmer and remove before eating for spice level 6, OR mince whole red chilies and process with the sauce for spice level 383948. This recipe can be made vegan by nixing the chicken and using soy sauce or vegetarian fish sauce in place of fish sauce. Spice up by adding more vegetables (broccoli, bok choy) and tossing in some fried/baked tofu at the end. Pescatarians might consider sautéing shrimp in another saucepan and adding at the last minute.