I have yet to try a recipe from the Food Gods that are Cook's Illustrated that I didn't care for and this one fails to disappoint as well. The method here requires slower cooking than the usual stir-fry in order to allow the aromatics to permeate the oil. It should be noted that my version had some ingredients substituted with what I could find: jalapenos for the Thai chilies (I know...what was I thinking?) and Italian basil for what C.I. recommends; "hot basil". I'm not even sure what that is, but apparently it has a "robust texture that can stand up to prolonged cooking". Anyway, it was still delicious with my substitutions! Times are estimated.
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves (hot basil or Thai holy basil if you can find it)
- 3 medium garlic cloves, peeled
- 6 Thai green chili or 6 red Thai red chili peppers, 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 lb 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
- Process 1 cup basil leaves, garlic and chiles in food processor until finely chopped, 6 to 10 1-second pulses, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed (turn off processor first!).
- 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.
- 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. [ NOTE: I used a blender and it started to make the chicken mushy, which was *not* what you want here. I stopped immediately and ended up hacking away at the remains with a cleaver. :o) ] Transfer to medium bowl and refrigerate 15 minutes.
- 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, 5-8 minutes.
- 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, passing extra fish sauce, sugar, red pepper flakes and vinegar separately.
This was incredibly delicious and easy. I used Italian basil (which the recipe is actually written for), substituted apple cider vinegar for the white, and used two serranos (deseeded and tasted them for heat) instead of the thai chilis. If I can find a cheap source of basil, this will become a staple.<br/><br/>I served it with some plain salted brown rice.
Fantastic - will absolutely be making this again. I used 2 Serrano peppers (my store didn't have Thai peppers) - I also cut the chicken in small pieces rather than using the food processor.