I admit it. I’m a hoarder. Not one of those guys who lives in a clapperboard house, having to crawl through tunnels of old newspapers to get to the loo. But, not far off it. It’s the plates and bowls that have got me into trouble. I can’t help buying more and more plates that will “Look good in a shot”. They need to have a bit of style about them and they also need to be a bargain (I may be obsessed, but, I’m not stupid.). I did a quick count in my ‘blog room’. I have ninety six, yes 96 different plates and bowls. That’s an obsession, before we look at the glasses, knives and forks, chopping boards, decorative saucepans and table cloths, backdrops and so forth. With all this in mind, you would think that I would be able to find a suitable bowl for my take on Thai Style Basil Chicken. As you can see from the photo, I obviously can’t.
Speaking of props, what do you think of my table surface? It’s part of a set of wood flooring, trimmed to size and stuck together with gaffer tape. I keep a few different options in my shed. Anyway, to the recipe.
Ingredients (for two hungry people)
- 500 grammes of boneless, skinless free range chicken thighs.
- 200ml of good quality chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon of fish sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon of oyster sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon of brown sugar (or palm sugar, if you have it)
- 2/3 cloves of garlic
- 2 Thai chilis (The small, hot, little bastards that make you cough when they are cooking)
- 6 good sized spring onions
- 5cm / 2″ piece of root ginger
- Generous handful of peanuts
- 2 to 3 handfuls of fresh basil
As with most Oriental recipes, there is a lot of chopping to be done. This is not random stuff that one sees lots of people do in their “recipes” There is a reason around texture, taste and/or appearance for all the chopping sizes. I like to also put a bit of logic around by slicing.Leaving the meat until last, I cut the mildest ingredients first, working up to the hottest. This prevents onion tears, chilli screaming after eye wiping and so forth. Chop the ginger and garlic like in the photo below.
One of the great things about writing and shooting a food blog is that the ingredients can act as props too. The spring onions, being partly translucent, let light through and look lovely.
Those bastard chilis are not translucent but have great colour, reflect a lot of light off their shiny surface and look wonderful in their bright green and red.
I sliced more of the chillis then I should have. They are really powerful and I sliced twice as many as I needed, in the interest of a half decent food photo.
Next slice the chicken into thumb-joint sized pieces. This is to allow them cook quickly, take on a good deal of the sauce and stick to the other ingredients with every mouthful. Put the peanuts in a bag and hit them with a rolling pin or similar blunt instrument. We want them about as small as the sliced ginger.
Mix together the sugar, soy, fish sauce, oyster sauce, and stock. Pop a small amount of oil into a very hot wok and add the chicken pieces. Unless you are blessed with a restaurant wok that can hit and maintain 800ºC, cook the chicken pieces in batches. Stir fry it until it changes colour. The pieces are not very big and won’t need much time.
Pour off any excess oil. Put all the chicken in the wok and add in the garlic, ginger and spring onions. Stir fry this for a bit until the spring onions have wilted and the garlic and ginger have started to release their wonderful aromas. Add the chillis. Stir and incorporate. Add the liquid, stirring until it reduces by about two thirds. The chicken will finish cooking through. The sugar and sauces will be starting to take on a nice sheen and the sauce will be getting nice and sticky.
Serve the dish using a better bowl than the cruddy brown thing I chose. I did it in a moment of weakness. That bowl has been sitting on my shelf waiting to be used for a couple of years. I regret the awful looking dish and apologise for my poor choices. I promise to try harder in future.
The Thai Style Basil Chicken was delightful and I can highly recommend it. Just don’t serve it in a truly awful looking bowl.