When I first moved to San Francisco and was young and poor (now I am old and poor…) I used to eat pretty much every day at a little Thai restaurant called the Racha Cafe. I could get a plate of Spicy Basil Chicken with steamed rice for about $5.00. That was usually my big meal for the day.
There are lots of great flavors from Thailand. Curries, fish dishes, noodles…all delicious. So check it out: IT IS EASY TO CREATE GREAT THAI FOOD AT HOME!! All you need is a collection of the right flavors.
When you want to cook in a Thai style there are a few items to add to your pantry. First, a good fish sauce; I like Tiparos but there are plenty of good brands. Then get some Sri Racha or as we call it Racha sauce. You will also want fresh ginger, lemon grass (you can get ground up Lemon Grass in a jar or tube if fresh isn’t available), garlic and soy sauce. Another regularly used item is basil. Thai basil is best but if you can’t get that use regular basil and some fresh mint leaves too. I keep jalapenos in the fridge pickled in cane vinegar, just wash in hot water and slice before dropping them in.
THAI BASIL CHICKEN
My daughter’s favorite, easy to make and delicious.
Get boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut them into little cubes. Figure two thighs per person, but add a few for leftovers (you will want some for lunch). Brown the chicken in oil, I use canola but anything but olive oil will do. You may have to cook the chicken in shifts…
After the chicken is lightly browned, add some soy sauce and fish sauce. Figure about 4 to 1 soy vs fish sauce. I use around four tablespoons or so of liquid per 6 thighs but you will have to adjust to your own taste. BE CAREFULL WITH THE FISH SAUCE…the flavor will multiply as the liquid reduces. Stir in about 1/4 tsp each of ground ginger and ground lemon grass. You can put in a little garlic but it is not needed. I like my chicken a little more spicy so I will stir in a little Racha sauce to give a small bite.
At the end throw in your pickled jalapenos to taste and then one bunch of basil. Let the basil wilt and toss it in. Remove from the heat and serve over jasmine rice.
You can do this same basic recipe with beef, seafood or veggies. Just try using the these spices to add to your cooking bag of tricks.