Thai Basil Chicken comes to mind whenever I have a whole lot of Thai or holy basil on hand. Holy basil is more spicy than it is sweet and is the preferred type of basil in this dish. It has small serrated leaves with slightly hairy stems. Thai basil is a good substitute. It is sweeter with a hint of anise of licorice. The leaves are larger and serrated with purple stems. Thai basil is the most common type of basil found at the Asian markets here and is available year round. It is the same kind of basil used by the Vietnamese in their pho noodles.
Thai Basil Chicken is surprisingly easy to prepare and it takes only minutes to cook once the ingredients are ready. Traditionally, ground chicken is used. Other key ingredients include basil, chilies, and fish sauce. The fish sauce should be discernible but not overpowering. The heat level can easily be adjusted to your liking. For a spicy “kick”, use 4 to 5 minced bird’s eye chilies in place of jalapeno or green chilies.
In my version below, I used bite size pieces of boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of ground chicken. I kept the dish mild with the use of just one jalapeno pepper but added a chopped red chili pepper for color.
- 20 oz (565g) boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1½ cup (45g) fresh Thai or holy basil leaves
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 red fresno chili (red chili), seeded and chopped
- 1 jalapeno chili (green chili)**, seeded and chopped
Combine chicken, fish sauce, soy sauce, and sugar in a bowl. Set aside.
Thinly slice 1 cup (30g) basil leaves. Leave the remaining ½ cup (15g) whole.
Heat vegetable oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Sauté onion, garlic, red chili, and jalapeno pepper for 1 to 2 minutes.
Add chicken and stir to cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
Add sliced basil leaves and continue to cook for another minute.
Turn off heat. Add remaining whole basil leaves. Stir to mix.
Serve immediately with steamed rice.
** Jalapeno (green) chili may be substituted with 4 to 5 bird’s eye chilies for a spicier dish.
This tasty dish is perfect served with a bowl of steamed jasmine rice. Do give it a try.
Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day!