Words by Bonnie S. Benwick, (c) 2018, The Washington Post
Chicken With Basil and Chiles
The simple, clean flavors in this stir-fry are designed to remind you of the peppery Thai stir-fry dish called gai ka prow. What you might like best about the recipe is its built-in flexibility, starting with the pan: We tested this in a wok, but if you don’t have one, a nonstick saute pan will work just fine.
Bone-in, skin-on thighs are what the recipe calls for, but if you happen to have boneless, skinless chicken thighs or ground dark-meat chicken, go with it. (A pound of boneless meat will then be enough to feed 3 or 4 people.) A food processor makes quick work of chopping up the chicken; you can achieve the same effect with two sharp knives and a large cutting board.
Fresh Thai basil is available at more and more grocery stores these days. Its flavor profile has more anise-y, spicy notes than its sweet green cousin, Genovese basil – the kind you might be growing in an herb pot. Either kind will taste great in this dish.
Serve with rice and/or green beans.
Based on a recipe from “The 30-Minute Cook,” by Nigel Slater (Penguin Books, 2006 edition).
1 medium red bell pepper
1 small yellow onion
2 large cloves garlic
1 small jalapeÃ±o pepper
1 pound bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon honey, or more as needed
1 tablespoons fish sauce, or more as needed
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves, preferably Thai basil
Freshly ground black pepper
Cut the flesh away from the red bell pepper in 1/2-inch strips, leaving the ribs and seed core intact (discard those). Cut the strips into 1/4-inch pieces. Cut the onion in half, then into thin slices. Mince the garlic. Stem the jalapeÃ±o, then cut it crosswise into thin rings.
Grab the skin on each chicken thigh and pull it off; you can use a sharp knife to detach it, too. Discard (or freeze and reserve for another use). Scrape the flesh away from the thigh bone, then cut through where the bone is attached at the top and bottom.
Transfer the meat (2 thighs’ worth at a time) to a food processor and pulse to chop into 1/4-inch pieces, or use a sharp knife to do the job.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a wok or large saute pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and stir-fry for 1 minute, then add the bell pepper pieces and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds, then scrape that mixture into a bowl.
Return the wok or pan to medium-high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and swirl to coat. Once the oil shimmers, add the chicken, breaking up the pieces with the edge of a spatula. Cook, undisturbed, for about a minute, then stir-fry for another minute or so or until the chicken loses its raw look. (You want to sear the underside of the chicken, not steam it.) If the chicken gives off a lot of moisture, use the spatula to move it up the sides of the wok or pan temporarily so the liquid in the bottom can cook and evaporate.
Return the onion mixture to the wok or pan. Add the jalapeÃ±o and stir-fry for 1 minute, then add the soy sauce, honey, fish sauce and basil leaves; stir-fry for 15 seconds, to incorporate the chicken and wilt the basil, then remove from the heat.
Season lightly with the black pepper and stir, then taste and add more honey and/or fish sauce, as needed. Serve right away.
The nutritional analysis is based on 3 servings.
Nutrition | Calories: 330; Total Fat: 27 g; Saturated Fat: 5 g; Cholesterol: 75 mg; Sodium: 580 mg; Total Carbohydrates: 9 g; Dietary Fiber: 2 g; Sugars: 5 g; Protein: 14 g.
Featured Image: Stacy Zarin Goldberg, Washington Post.