I always buy chicken fillet when I have no idea what to cook. It's the easiest meat to blend flavors with, cooks fast and most importantly, it doesn't have so much fat. I also keep a pack or two in the freezer for emergency meals, targeting those days when I don't have anything to cook and we're too lazy to go out & buy something. I just toss the chicken in the griddle for grilling, chop some tomatoes or oranges & fresh herbs from the garden for a bowl of salad & voila! We have a meal on the table.
This time, I was craving for something different. As I surfed the net, I found the perfect recipe in the food blog Sweet & Saucy which led me to the original, the Thai Chicken with Basil of Food & Wine. I quick check shows me that I have all the ingredients except for the chilies. I have instead, an open bottle of grilled bell pepper that I had to finish. So I substituted them with the chili peppers. All my basil plants are exploding with leaves so that gives me one more reason to explore this dish.
I stopped keeping Asian fish sauce at home after I discovered its Italian equivalent which is the colatura di alici di Cetara which are bought in small 100 ml. bottles. The bottles of Asian fish sauce I get here are too big that I tend to throw them still half full, having stayed way too long opened. When I found the colatura di alici, my problem was solved.
The overpowering scent of basil mixed with sauteed chicken was absolutely wonderful. I have never used so much basil in any of the dishes I prepared and I was reluctant to put so much. But there was nothing to be worried about because the basil & chicken complemented each other so well. Accompanied with plain white rice, I give a thumbs up to this delicious recipe!
Thai Chicken with Basil
- 500 g. chicken fillet, cut to strips
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce (I used the Italian colatura di alici di Cetara which is the same as fish sauce.)
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1.5 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1.5 teaspoons sugar
- 1 1/2 cups basil leaves
- 1/2 onion, sliced thinly
- 2 cloves garlic, halved
- 1/4 cup grilled bell pepper, drained (I used store-bought bottled ones.) or 1 fresh bell pepper
- extra virgin olive oil
- salt (optional)
- Combine chicken, fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar & water in a bowl.
- In a non-stick pan, heat the extra virgin olive oil. Add the onion & cook for a couple of minutes. Add the garlic, cooking until they color. Add the sliced grilled pepper. Toss for a couple of minutes.
- Add the chicken, leaving the marinade in the bowl. Cook & toss until cooked through.
- Add the marinade, cooking about a minute more. Season with salt if still needed.
- Remove from heat & add 1 cup of basil.
- Add 1/2 cup of basil on top before serving.