Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Holy Basil

Every year I grow Thai Holy basil for one dish, and one dish only. Chicken with Holy Basil. My husband and I first tried this dish at a great Thai restaurant in Seattle, called Racha.

All basil plants love hot weather, but Holy basil is particularly finicky. We had cool rainy weather most of the way into June, so I was afraid my Holy basil was doomed. I did manage to nurse along 3 plants and with cooler weather returning, it was time to harvest and feast.

Thai basil is an unusual basil plant in that its leaves resemble a cross between mint leaves and basil leaves.

The only complaint I have with this dish is that I could easily double the basil content. This recipe comes from my favorite Thai cookbook: Real Thai: The Best of Thailand’s Regional Cooking by Nancie McDermott.

Gai Paht Bai Graprao

1 chicken breast half
1 chicken thigh
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon coarsely chopped garlic
1 Tablespoon fresh Serrano chili, minced
2 Tablepoons fish sauce
1 Tablespoon water
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 cup holy basil leaves, cut in thin strips (or substitute half basil and half mint leaves)
9 long, thin sweet red bell pepper strips

Cut your chicken into bite-sized cubes.

Mix the fish sauce, water, soy sauce, and brown sugar in a small bowl.
Heat a deep pan over medium-high heat. Add oil and coat the inside of the pan well. Once the oil is heated, add garlic and chili. Saute until golden. Add chicken and stir-fry about a minute. Add the fish sauce mixture and continue stir-frying for another minute or so. Once your chicken looks thoroughly cooked, add basil and bell pepper. Mix until basil begins to wilt.


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