Thai Chicken with Basil

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

Serves 4
  • 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
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups basil leaves
  • 1/2 onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 clove 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)
  1. Combine chicken, fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar & water in a bowl.
  2. 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.
  3. Add the chicken, leaving the marinade in the bowl.  Cook & toss until cooked through.  
  4. Add the marinade, cooking about a minute more.  Season with salt if still needed.
  5. Remove from heat & add 1 cup of basil.
  6. Add 1/2 cup of basil on top before serving.