Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Kai Kaphrao Khai Dao (Stir-Fried Chicken with Hot Basil)

(from Andy Ricker's Pok Pok)

Joef is our resident chef these days, and his favorite cookbook is Pok Pok, which has the most amazing Thai recipes. He's made this one a few times - it's relatively simple, and super-satisfying and delicious.

We haven't yet been able to find actual "hot basil", or "holy basil", which apparently has a different flavor and aroma that Ricker describes as "essential". No, not even Berkeley Bowl has it! Instead, we've used Thai basil and Persian basil, both of which arguably are not the right ingredient, but have worked just fine.

As with the other Thai recipes in this cookbook, the ingredients can seem tricky. But what we've found is that they repeat, so if you can find them and create a little larder for yourself, you can dive into a lot of other recipes very easily, making it a pretty accessible undertaking.

The recipe below is for one - we always double it and cook it all in one batch to serve two. Best to have all the ingredients prepped and ready to go, because it moves very quickly once you start cooking.

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tbsp Thai fish sauce
2 tsp Thai black soy sauce
1 tsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp garlic, crushed in a mortar
5 oz ground chicken
1/4 cup long beans, cut crosswise into 1/8-inch slices
1/4 cup peeled yellow onion, thinly sliced
4 fresh Thai red chiles, thinly sliced
3-4 dried Thai chiles, fried (pretty sure we don't fry them), and coarsely crumbled
1 cup hot basil leaves
Jasmine rice

Start by cooking the egg: heat a wok over very high heat, add the oil, and swirl the oil around in the wok, coating the sides. When it starts to smoke lightly, crack in the egg and cook it for about 5 seconds - the whites will bubble and puff, and the whole thing will sizzle. Lower the heat to medium and cook the egg, tipping the pan and covering the egg with the oil, until it's golden at the edges and cooked to your liking. Turn off the heat, and remove the egg to a paper towel, keeping the oil in the wok.

Next, combine the sugar, fish sauce, and soy sauce in a small bowl and stir to combine. Heat up the wok again on high. When it smokes lightly, add the garlic and take the wok off the heat. Let the garlic sizzle and stir it often until it's light golden brown, about 30 seconds.

Return the wok to the hat. Add the chicken, long beans, onions, and fresh chiles. Stir fry the ingredients (flip, stir, etc. constantly), and break up the chicken until it has just cooked through - about 1 minute.

Add the dried chiles and the fish sauce mixture and stir fry until the meat absorbs the liquid, about another minute. Turn off the heat.

When you're just about ready to serve, turn the heat back to high, and add the basil till it has wilted.

Serve with rice and fried egg!

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