I first saw this recipe in Cook's Illustrated a couple of years ago and figured with that much fish sauce and chile peppers, it must be good! The only downside is the amount of basil needed deters me from making it more often. At $2.99/bag (or $1.19/ounce in bulk), the two cups this dish calls for can make it less than budget-friendly. Hence why I'm only making it when chicken goes on sale for a couple bucks off per pound.
This is actually a very easy dish, but it feels like it's a special meal. I also pointed out to Shawn that it's probably one of the healthiest dishes I've ever made for a Saturday night.
|Start by sauteeing the aromatics|
|Much of the chopping work done is in the food processor--yet another reason to love this dish|
|Cooking doesn't take long so pay attention|
|Adding in even MORE basil|
|Wait until wilted|
|Time to serve|
Thai-style chicken with basil
Since tolerance for spiciness can vary, we’ve kept our recipe relatively mild. Sweetness without sufficient heat can become cloying, so we also cut back the sugar. For a very mild version of the dish, remove the seeds and ribs from the chiles. If fresh Thai chiles are unavailable, substitute 2 serranos or 1 medium jalapeño. In Thailand, crushed red pepper and sugar are passed at the table, along with extra fish sauce and white vinegar, so the dish can be adjusted to suit individual taste. Serve with steamed rice and vegetables, if desired.
2 cups fresh basil leaves, tightly packed
3 medium garlic cloves, peeled
6 green or red Thai chiles , stemmed (see note)
2 tablespoons fish sauce, plus extra for serving (see note)
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon white vinegar, plus extra for serving (see note)
1 tablespoon sugar, plus extra for serving (see note)
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 medium shallots, peeled and thinly sliced (about 3/4 cup)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Red pepper flakes, for serving (see note)
1. Process 1 cup basil leaves, garlic, and chiles in food processor until finely chopped, 6 to 10 one-second pulses, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula once during processing. Transfer 1 tablespoon basil mixture to small bowl and stir in 1 tablespoon fish sauce, oyster sauce, vinegar, and sugar; set aside. Transfer remaining basil mixture to 12-inch heavy-bottomed nonstick skillet. Do not wash food processor bowl.
2. Pulse chicken and 1 tablespoon fish sauce in food processor until meat is chopped into -approximate 1/4-inch pieces, six to eight 1-second pulses. Transfer to medium bowl and refrigerate 15 minutes.
3. Stir shallots and oil into basil mixture in skillet. Heat over medium-low heat (mixture should start to sizzle after about 11/2 minutes; if it doesn’t, adjust heat accordingly), stirring constantly, until garlic and shallots are golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes.
4. Add chicken, increase heat to medium, and cook, stirring and breaking up chicken with potato masher or rubber spatula, until only traces of pink remain, 2 to 4 minutes. Add reserved basil-fish sauce mixture and continue to cook, stirring constantly until chicken is no longer pink, about 1 minute. Stir in remaining cup basil leaves and cook, stirring constantly, until basil is wilted, 30 to 60 seconds. Serve immediately, passing extra fish sauce, sugar, red pepper flakes, and vinegar separately.