Few dishes are as easy and as appetising as Thai basil chicken, a fragrant and spicy stir-fry originating from Thailand, also known as Pad Krapow Gai. While the highlight of the dish is the crunch and aroma of the basil, make sure to only stir in the herb just before serving. The existing heat will cook the basil without make it lose its natural flavour, as it would if you stir-fried it with the rest of the ingredients.
- ⅔ cup (130 g) jasmine rice
- 1 tbsp peanut oil
- 800 g chicken thigh fillets, sliced thickly
- 2 medium onions (300 g), sliced thickly
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 tsp Chinese five spice powder
- 400 g snake beans, cut into 5cm lengths
- ½ cup (125 ml) oyster sauce
- 2 tbsps light soy sauce
- ½ cup (75 g) cashews, roasted
- ½ cup loosely packed fresh thai basil leaves
- 1 fresh long red chilli, sliced thinly on the diagonal
Cook rice in a saucepan of boiling water for 12 mins or until tender; drain.
Meanwhile, heat half the oil in a wok over high heat; stir-fry chicken, in batches, until browned all over and cooked through. Remove from wok.
Heat remaining oil in wok; stir-fry onion, garlic and five spice for 3 mins or until onion softens. Add beans; stir-fry for 4 mins or until tender.
Return chicken to wok with sauces and cashews; stir-fry until sauce boils and thickens slightly.
Just before serving, stir in basil. Serve stir-fry with rice; top with chilli.
TIP There are more than two dozen varieties of basil, and the one used here is Thai basil, also known as horapa. It has very small leaves and purplish stems, with a slight licorice or aniseed taste. It’s one of the basic flavours of Thai cuisine.