Holy Basil!

Basil, it’s that gorgeous herb that’s heady and fragrant, that announces it’s appearance before a dish has even been set upon the table. It turns pasta vibrant green and adds a hint of freshness to a tomato soup. But in Thailand, Basil is often flash cooked, wilting the soft leaves until they are incorporated into a spicy stir-fry.

Molly suggested I write a Thai recipe, considering I just got back from two weeks in Thailand. She said her husband is dying for a bit of spice, so hopefully this recipe will satisfy!

I picked this dish because it’s one of my favorite dishes that can be eaten for breakfast lunch or dinner in Bangkok is phat kaprow. It can be made with pork, chicken or beef. I’ve written a recipe for chicken, but the proportions are interchangeable with any protein you choose.

Phat Krapow simply means stir fry with basil (phat= stir fry and krapow= basil).

Prepare some Jasmine rice for this dish to balance the spicy, salty and aromatic flavors.

Some of these harder to find ingredients can be found in Chinatowns, or Thai towns. And the ever trusty Amazon can deliver the bottled goods if you can’t find them in your town.

If you’re making this dish for more than one person, you can double the quantities. No more than 2x the recipe should be attempted in one pan. It will be too much food and you won’t be able to break up the chicken well. So do it in batches if you’re making for more than one or two people.

Stir Fried Basil with Chicken

Ingredients for Stir-fry

4 T. vegetable oil

1 large egg

1 tsp. Thai fish sauce

2 tsp. thin soy sauce

1 T. Thai oyster sauce

5-6 large cloves garlic, peeled

⅓ lb. ground chicken (preferably dark meat)

⅓ cup long beans, (or yardlong beans), sliced in 1” pieces (these can be found in Asian markets– they are like green beans but yummier)

2 small red Thai shallots, or 1 regular small shallot

4-6 Thai chilis (depending on how hot you like it), stems removed

1 cup Holy basil (this can be hard to find, so I untraditionally use Thai basil when I can’t find it)

salt

Prik Naam Plaa (Fish Sauce with Chilis)

3 garlic cloves, sliced very thinly width-wise

10 Thai chilis, red and green, sliced very thinly

½  lime

Thai fish sauce

To make the prik naam plaa, add the chilis and garlic to a small bowl and cover with fish sauce. Let sit at room temperature while you prepare dinner. Right before your meal, squeeze in the juice of half a lime. This can be used to add more heat to your dish (just use the chilis and garlic), or of you need a touch more salt, add some of the fish sauce. This can keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.

For the stir-fry, if you have a mortar and pestle, add the chilis to the mortar with a pinch of salt and begin pounding. Once you have broken up the chilis, add the garlic and shallots. Pound until you have a coarse paste.

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If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, add all the ingredients to a food processor and pulse until you get a coarse paste.

Set yourself up with four small bowls to help you organize yourself for mise en place.

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Add the chili paste to one bowl, the ground chicken to another, and the long beans to a third.

In the fourth bowl add  the oyster sauce, thin soy sauce and fish sauce and stir to combine.

Line up all these bowls next to the stovetop.

Have the picked basil leaves nearby.

Place a large sautee pan over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot, add the chili garlic paste and stir it around until it smells very fragrant.

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Once the garlic has just begun to turn golden, add the ground chicken. Use a metal spoon to break up the chicken and smash it around the pan. Stir constantly until the chicken is mostly separated. Add the long beans and continue cooking.

Once the chicken is mostly cooked, after about a minute and a half, add the bowl of liquids containing the oyster sauce, fish sauce and soy sauce. Continue to stir until most of the liquid has evaporated, but not totally dry. You want some sauce left in the pan.

Add the basil and toss around the pan for a few seconds. The idea is to just wilt the leaves. Take the pan off the heat.

Turn on a small non-stick pan and add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot, crack the egg into the center of the pan. Be careful because the oil can sputter and spit. In Thailand, they like to actually fry eggs. It creates fluffy whites and a crispy bottom (totally unlike the video I made on how to make perfect fried eggs!). Use a large spoon and baste the egg with the extra oil in the pan to help cook the top of the egg. I like my eggs with a runny yolk, so this whole process takes about a minute.

When your egg is the desired doneness, remove with a spatula and place on a plate with a paper towel to let the excess oil drain.

Scoop some jasmine rice onto a plate, add the stir fried chicken and basil, and top with the egg. Serve with prik naam plaa (fish sauce with chilis) so you can season your dish with more chili or more salt as you like.

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Molly England earned her master’s degree in social work at The University of Edinburgh. She currently lives in The Woodlands, Texas with her husband and their three children. She is a devoted blogger and a passionate Certified Bradley Method® Natural Childbirth Educator. In 2015 Molly founded Bluebonnet Babies, a virtual hub providing products and resources based on evidence, research, experience and love to parents making healthy and informed choices. Blogging enables Molly to achieve her goal of empowering families across the globe as they navigate pregnancy to parenthood. Her work has appeared in Holistic Parenting Magazine, the Pathways to Family Wellness Blog and more. She recently began freelance writing and is featured in Pregnancy & Newborn Magazine’s February Issue. Visit Molly England’s website Bluebonnet Babies.

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clairebioClaire Handleman has been a chef in New York for 10 years, working at some of the city’s best restaurants. She previously worked on ABC’s Emmy-award winning show The Chew as an assistant producer and participated in Food Network’s Chopped competition…and won. Claire has been traveling the world for the past dozen years but focuses a majority of her time in South-East Asia. She has come to regard Thailand as a second home and spends many months each year learning Thai cuisine. She is currently working on a book with the hopes of sharing the incredible cuisine her Thai friends have shared with her. While she travels and works, she shares stories, recipes and travel tips on her blog Passport to Eat.

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