This Thai basil chicken is spicy, sweet, savory and oh so easy!
As much as I love to cook, on many Friday nights I find myself rifling through the menu drawer looking at the usual suspects…pizza, Chinese, sushi. We debate the choices as our stomachs growl and after we finally make a decision I call to place the order. An hour wait?! Aaargh! We’ll never make it.
Here’s the thing. I can pull together a dinner that will rival our favorite take-out from staples that I always have on hand. Sure, I might not be in the mood to cook, but a piping hot bowl of deliciousness in a little over twenty minutes sure beats an hour long wait full of groans and whining.
This is where one of my most prized cooking possessions comes into play. My trusty, well-seasoned wok. It’s been with me most of my adult life and only improves with time. It didn’t cost very much, a good wok will only set you back $25-$30 and as long as you take care of it, it will last forever. A carbon-steel wok is my go-to; it’s lightweight, heats up quickly and over time it will develop a completely non-stick surface. This means clean up doesn’t require scouring the pan or a long soak. Just give it a quick wash and be sure to lightly coat the surface with a little canola or vegetable oil to prevent rust.
Nothing beats a wok when you’re trying to get dinner on the table in a hurry and this Thai basil chicken can be cooked in minutes. It’s packed with flavor and has just the right balance of salty, sweet, sour and spicy. The bite-size chunks of chicken are lightly coated in corn starch which creates a velvety sauce that is punctuated with pungent basil. This recipe calls for holy basil which has a sharper, more powerful flavor than regular Thai or Italian basil, but it’s often hard to come by. No worries if you can’t find it; Thai or Italian basil are excellent substitutes.
So if your house is anything like mine on a Friday night and you’re about to order take out for the hungry masses, put down the phone and pull out your wok. You’ll have empty bowls and full bellies in no time. And then you can move on to the next pressing topic: getting everyone to agree on a movie. Sorry, even my trusty wok can’t help you there.
- 1 Tbsp canola oil
- 1 large onion coarsely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken, cut into a 1/2 inch dice
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- 1 Thai chile or serrano pepper minced
- 1 tsp green chile paste
- 1/3 cup sherry
- 3 Tbsp Asian fish sauce
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 3 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 1/2 cup Holy basil Thai basil or Italian basil can be substituted
- *Jasmine rice for serving
Heat oil in a wok over high heat.
Add onion and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add garlic and cook 1 minute
Toss chicken with cornstarch to coat and add to wok. Cook for about 5 minutes until almost cooked through, stirring frequently.
Add chile, chile paste, sherry, fish sauce, brown sugar and soy sauce. Stir and cook until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes.
Add chicken stock and cook an additional 3 minutes or until sauce thickens slightly.
Add in basil and stir.
Serve over jasmine rice if desired.