Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Running Food: Thai Basil Chicken

All right, since today is a non-running day, it's recipe time as promised!

First, a disclaimer; yes, I fully admit that I frequently photograph the dishes I cook. The digital camera I bought even has a "cuisine" mode, which was its main selling point for me! Hey, I think it is fun. Weird? Perhaps. But, I am not to the point where I am becoming the next Tucker Shaw. This guy has a book called Everything I Ate: A Year In The Life Of My Mouth. Shaw photographed every piece of food he ate in 2004, even documenting the time, location, and who he was with (he even had a dinner at Bellisio's in Duluth, a restaurant that I love!). He didn't miss a thing. It is really quite an impressive undertaking.

Anyhow, on to the recipe! I love making stir-fries. They are easy to make, very nutritious for a runner's diet, and they cook quickly. This is my Thai basil chicken recipe, which has evolved from a combination of recipes I have tried. It is loosely based on a more authentic Thai dish called holy basil chicken, but who can find fresh holy basil? I have never even seen it. You can simply substitute the widely available fresh basil you would use for Italian dishes.

This dish is healthy and lean, with lots of nice vegetables and carbohydrates. It is a flexible dish too, so feel free to try it with other veggies if you like, or substitute pork or shrimp in place of the chicken. Make it as spicy or mild as you like. All of the ingredients should be available at any large supermarket. There are instructions for making this either a rice dish or a noodle dish, if you prefer.

Jean's Thai Basil Chicken

For the sauce, combine together:
-5 T. Thai fish sauce
-3 T. light soy sauce
-3 T. white wine
-1 T. oyster sauce
-1 T. fresh ginger, grated
-1 T. roasted red chili paste, or chili-garlic sauce (optional)
-2 T. sugar

The chicken and veggies:
-1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced
-1 T. Thai fish sauce
-1 T. vegetable or peanut oil
-1 T. garlic, minced
-1 T. jalapeño pepper, minced (optional)
-1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
-4 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
-1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
-8 oz. crimini or button mushrooms, sliced
-6 oz. rice stick noodles, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes until, drained (optional)

To finish:
-A handful of shredded fresh basil

To serve:
-Steamed jasmine rice (if not using noodles)
-A bottle of sriracha chili sauce on the side

Make the sauce (this can be done well in advance and refrigerated until needed). Cut up the chicken and marinate in the Thai fish sauce for about an hour in the fridge. When ready to cook, heat the oil over high heat. Stir-fry the chicken until no longer pink and set aside. Add a little more oil to the pan if needed, then add the garlic and optional jalapeño, stirring for 30 seconds or so. Add the remaining vegetables and stir-fry for a couple of minutes. Add the chicken to the vegetables and stir fry for a couple more minutes. If using the rice stick noodles, add them now and give everything a good stir. Pour in the sauce, allowing everything to come up to temperature. When ready to serve, add your basil at the last possible minute to maintain its freshness. If you are not using rice stick noodles, serve it over steamed jasmine rice. Keep a bottle of sriracha chili sauce on the side for those who like a lot of heat. Serves 4 hungry people.

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