I have to admit that this was my first attempt at Thai food. I saw this recipe on a recent America’s Test Kitchen (a show on PBS by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated). Since I usually order a dish similar to this when I go to Tomy Thai, I wanted to try to make my own. Mine wasn’t an exact copycat but it was close. I couldn’t find any Thai chiles at Kroger so I substituted 2 serranos. It was a little spicier than Morgan and I would have liked but Jordan added a ton of crushed red pepper to his, so you can adjust the heat to your liking. The only other ingredients that might be hard to find are fish sauce and oyster sauce, but you should find these in the international section of most grocery stores. You will have to dig out your food processor for this recipe to grind the chicken breast and fish sauce together. Don’t be tempted to cheat and use pre-ground chicken. The chicken is supposed to be chunkier than you’ll get if you use pre-ground. The fish sauce is salty so it acts like a brine and helps keep the meat tender and juicy. In my opinion it was worth the extra step to dig out the food processor because you can also use it to chop the basil and chiles. This might be a good recipe to try on the weekend or when you have plenty of time because you’ll have several dirty dishes. BUT, don’t let this keep you from trying this recipe. It’s easy and delicious. Enjoy!
Thai-Style Chicken with Basil
from Cook’s Illustrated
2 cups fresh basil leaves, tightly packed
3 medium garlic cloves, peeled
6 green or red Thai chiles, stemmed
2 tablespoons fish sauce, plus extra for serving
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon white vinegar, plus extra for serving
1 tablespoon sugar, plus extra for serving
1 1/2pounds 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
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 1 1/2 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 over sticky rice, passing extra fish sauce, sugar, red pepper flakes, and vinegar separately.