Monday, July 13, 2009

Thai-Basil Chicken



This recipe is one that I tested for Cook's Illustrated. It hasn't been published yet, but I signed up via email to test recipes and occassionally I get recipes in my inbox to try out. I thought this one was worth posting because it was interesting and had a number of different flavors. I had to adapt it slightly, but this was still really good and it was a great way to use up some herbs from my garden.

Thai-Basil Chicken (a.k.a. Gia Pad Grapaw)
(From Cook's Illustrated)

2 c. fresh basil leaves, packed tightly
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 medium jalapeno chile, ribs and seeds removed
2 T. fish sauce, divided
1 T. oyster sauce
1 T. white vinegar
1 T. granulated sugar
3 shallots, sliced
2 T. vegetable oil
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
Red pepper flakes

Place 1/2 c. basil leaves, garlic, and jalapeno in the food processor. Pulse about 10 times until finely diced. Take 1 T. of the mixture and in a small bowl mix that together with 1 T. fish sauce, the oyster sauce, vinegar, and sugar. Mix well and set aside.

Transfer remaining mixture to a bowl and stir in shallots and vegetable oil. Set aside.

In food processor, pulse together chicken and remaining fish sauce until chicken is chopped into smaller pieces. Transfer to a bowl and allow to marinate in fridge for 15-30 minutes.

When ready to cook, heat a large skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until shallots and garlic are golden-brown (so, about 5 minutes).

Add chicken to skillet and break up large chunks with a spatula for about 5 minutes. Add fish sauce-chile mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until chicken is no longer pink. Stir in remaining basil leaves and cook until wilted, stirring constantly.

Serve, passing extra fish sauce, sugar, crushed red pepper, and white vinegar.

Notes:
  • I didn't serve this with extra fish sauce, etc. and I really didn't feel like I was missing anything. That's more for traditional purposes than anything else.
  • Removing the ribs and seeds from the jalapeno helped make this more palatable for us. I don't mind moderate spice, but Graham hates anything spicy or hot. I chose to compromise, though leaving the pepper whole and pulsing in the ribs and seeds will definitely lend an element of heat to your meal.
  • The basil makes this dish. I strongly recommend using fresh basil over dried so this tastes fresh and vibrant instead of sort-of-basily.

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