Basil Chicken (Gai Pad Kaprao)
Serves 2 as one dish meal or 4-6 for a full Thai meal
This is one of the first dishes I learned to make in a class given by Kasma Loha-unchit about 18 years ago. Kasma and most Thais prefer chicken thigh and leg meat, but my family has always liked chicken breasts in the recipe. This dish is a favourite among both Thais and non-Thais. Here is my version of Basil Chicken/Gai Kaprao.
1 lb. boneless chicken breast, cut into small 1/4" pieces
6-8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6-8 shallots, thinly sliced
1-2 tsp peanut oil for stir-frying (or canola)
1-2 Tbs. fish sauce (nam plah), to taste
1-2 tsp. black soy sauce *optional
1 cup fresh Thai holy basil (bai kaprao), or Thai sweet basil (bai horapa )
4-6 small kaffir lime leaves (bai ma-grood), very finely slivered
5-10 Thai Dragon chiles (phrik chee fa) or Thai Bird Chiles (Phrik kee nue)
Generous Dash of ground white pepper
Prep each ingredient and set aside to allow quick stir fry technique.
Leave the fresh basil leaves whole; the flowers may also be used.
Heat a wok until the surface is smoking hot. Add oil to one side and swirl to coat the wok surface.
Add the chicken pieces evenly over the surface of the wok. Sprinkle generously with the white pepper. Do not stir, allow them to brown and begin to turn colour. Then add garlic and shallots and stir fry until the chicken is no longer pink. Add the chiles and slivered kaffir lime leaves continue stir frying.
Then add fresh basil leaves and fish sauce to taste. Stir and mix
well. Stir-fry another half a minute, or until the basil is wilted
and the chicken is cooked through.
Stir and transfer to a serving dish, or spoon directly over individual
plates of plain steamed Brown Jasmine rice.
This is a favourite one dish meal with my family. The recipe can easily be doubled for larger groups.
Notes: If large French shallots are used decrease number of shallots. I have used course ground chicken meat, but the flavour and texture is best if you hand dice.