When Basil Meets Chicken

I’m an absolute sucker for Thai food. I’ve already made a very award-worthy, delicious Thai tom yum soup a while back. This time, I’m venturing into another one of my favorite Thai dishes, the basil chicken or known as gai pad grapow.

They’re usually done with minced chicken meat but I like mine bite-sized.

I kid you not, this is absolutely delish! And unbelievably easy to make.

A whole piece of chicken breast (sliced or minced to your liking)
4 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
2 shallots (finely chopped)
1 1/4 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 big bunch of Thai basil leaves (stems removed)
4 bird’s eye chilies (sliced into small pieces)
2 dashes ground white pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

These are four of the most basic ingredients that can easily be found in every kitchen.

It’s crucial to prep your ingredients (chopping, dicing, slicing) beforehand to ease your cooking process. Especially for people like me who panics in the kitchen when something goes wrong.

Be sure to use FRESH basil leaves, not the bottled ones. Sweet basil works beautifully.

A word of caution: Please use the bird’s eye chillies sparingly. I used four and it turned out way spicier than I imagined (but I love spicy food anyways so I didn’t mind) so for those who have medium tolerance to chilli, I would suggest using only two. You have ben warned.

When all is prepped and ready to go, heat up your olive oil in a skillet. Once the oil is heated, throw in the garlic and shallots. Stir fry until it’s aromatic, usually about a minute or less before adding the chicken.

Fun fact: I have an unexplainable fear of frying things in hot oil. But I pulled through anyways, not without a lot of antsy moments.

If you’re using minced meat, just use your spatula and toss everything until it’s evenly mixed. If you prefer slices instead, like me, just keep flipping them over, keeping both sides at a consistent cooked-color. Mix the chicken with the garlic and shallots so that the flavors can marry.

Now, once the chicken changes to a whitish color with slight browning, throw in the rest of the seasonings (chillies, fish sauce, sugar) and mix it all up. You may also add a little salt to taste but the fish sauce should have given it enough saltiness.

After that, throw in the basil leaves and stir everything together until the leaves are wilted. The amazing basil fragrance should be really aromatic, mixed in with the spiciness and tanginess of your dish.

Finally, when your chicken is nice and well-browned, add that bit of white pepper stir it around one last time and you’re done! Best served hot with a side of veggies and rice.

Or like me, you can whip it up into a spicy basil chicken salad.

Keep it healthy; use only lemon juice for the dressing over crunchy baby lettuce and rocket lettuce.

That’s all there is to it. Enjoy!

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