Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are on sale at Kroger this week, and I’ve been looking for ways to try out the new Cuisinart food processor my honey gave me for Christmas. When I found this recipe on Serious Eats, I was immediately intrigued. Not only does it offer some of the exotic Thai flavors we love, it calls for mincing the chicken in the food processor.
The recipe just calls for basil, but using Thai basil is what really made this dish for me. Sure, you could throw some regular, Italian-style basil in the dish but I just don’t think it’d be as good.
The problem is, you may have trouble finding Thai basil at a grocery store. That’s why I’d suggest stopping by your local Asian market for this ingredient. I looked at Oriental Market on Williamson Road, but the owner told me he was out of Thai basil. My next stop, at Fresh Oriental Market at Williamson Road and Liberty Road, paid off with the discovery of fresh Thai basil in the refrigerator. A perfectly sized package (about 1 cup) ran me a whopping 51 cents. Imagine what you’d spend for that if you COULD find fresh Thai basil at the grocery store!
Don’t omit the fish sauce, either. That’s the other important ingredient in this dish. If you’ve never used fish sauce, do not be afraid. It may sound funny or smell bad to you when you sniff the bottle, but once it is incorporated into the dish it makes a world of difference and creates that distinctly Thai flavor. Pick up the smallest bottle you can find if you don’t expect to use it often – it lasts forever anyway.
Finally, the mincing of the chicken created a really unique result. It isn’t ground chicken (unless you process it too much – keep a light touch!) but the bits are so small that they really take on the other flavors well. I may start mincing chicken in my food processor for other recipes instead of buying ground chicken. I just cannot fall for ground turkey or chicken no matter how hard I try.
Other aspects of this dish are open to substitutions. Instead of yellow/orange/red bell pepper, I bought green to save money. Instead of fresh chiles, I used some Srirachi. I doubled the amount of soy sauce and fish sauce because we like a little juice whenever we’re eating something on top of rice (we used jasmine rice). I also added a tablespoon of fresh lime juice at the end. Finally, because this calls for Thai soy sauce, which is sweeter than regular, and I only had regular soy sauce, I added a tablespoon of sugar to the soy sauce before adding it to the dish. White sugar or brown sugar will work.
As with any recipe that calls for quickly stir-frying ingredients, you’ll want to have your mise en place, or all of the ingredients prepped and ready to be tossed into the pan. Once you have everything prepped, which doesn’t take long at all, you can cook this dish in about 10 minutes.
If you try this recipe, let me know what you think. I hope you love it as much as we did!
Thai-Style Minced Chicken with Basil and Chiles
1 pound ground chicken, or boneless, skinless meat chopped in a food processor
2 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced into crescents
1 red or orange bell pepper, cut into 1/2 inch strips and then into diamonds
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1-2 jalapeno or serrano chiles, cut crosswise into rings
1 tablespoon Thai black soy sauce
1 tablespoon Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce
1 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
Ground pepper to taste
2 cups cooked white rice, for serving
1. In wok or other stir-fry pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over high heat until just smoking, then add the onion. Stir-fry for 1 minute, then add bell pepper and stir-fry for an additional minute. Add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds, then remove the pan from the heat and scrape contents into bowl.
2. Heat remaining two tablespoons oil over high heat until just smoking, then add chicken all at once. Spread evenly in skillet and cook, without stirring until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir-fry until pink is completely gone and chicken is cooked through, about 2 minutes longer.
3. Return cooked vegetables to pan and add chiles. Stir-fry for 1 minute, then add the soy sauce and cook for 15 seconds. Follow with fish sauce and basil leaves and cook until just wilted, then season with pepper. Taste for balance, adding soy sauce, fish sauce, or more pepper as needed. Serve immediately with rice.