I’ve mentioned before that I’m not the world’s biggest fan of Thai food. I don’t really like peanut sauces and cilantro, and that alone makes it difficult to appreciate Thai.
That said, when I step off the train from work, there are no fewer than 5 Thai restaurants within a 1 block radius. And they smell freaking amazing. Sometimes, it makes it difficult to eat what I’ve planned for dinner that night because I’ve just been plagued with an insatiable urge to have…whatever it is they’re making in there.
When this popped up in my reader, I knew I had to make it. It has the parts about Thai cuisine I do enjoy – namely, the heat and the basil. I must have really been craving that flavor profile, too, because I managed to put 2 other dishes similar to this one on the menu for the same week (or maybe I’m just trying to use up the liter of fish sauce I have in my fridge).
As far as changes go (because, you know I had to make some), I upped the amount of sauce a bit, and changed the proportions slightly – including switching out some of the fish sauce for oyster sauce. Right before I added the sauce, I threw in a couple handfuls of chopped peapods, which are one of my most favorite things, to make this a complete meal alongside some brown rice.
The flavors of this dish are definitely reminiscent of the drunken noodles I’ve made in the past, which of course means I really loved it. The oyster and fish sauces give this dish a great depth of flavor and the sugar and basil leaves balance the heat nicely. Of course, you can increase or decrease the chili paste amounts to your personal preference.
Spicy Basil Chicken
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 large shallot, minced
1.25 lbs. boneless/skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1″ pieces
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 Tbsp. oyster sauce
2 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp. chili paste, like sambal oelek
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. water
1.5 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 cup sliced basil leaves (preferably Thai)
Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; swirl to coat. Add shallots and cook for 1 minute. Add chicken and garlic to pan. Cook 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until chicken is cooked through.
Meanwhile, whisk the fish sauce and the next 6 ingredients (through cornstarch) together in a small bowl. Add fish sauce mixture to cooked chicken, and cook for 1 minute or until mixture thickens, stirring to coat chicken. Remove from heat and stir in basil.