One of my all time favourite Thai takeout dishes, made in the comfort of your own home! You’ll be surprised how simple it is to make this Thai Chilli Basil Chicken – you can pick up all the ingredients at the supermarket and it’s on the table in 15 minutes!
Wowser. I LOVE Thai Chilli Basil Chicken. Just looking at these photos and writing up this post at 6.39 pm on Wednesday night has me peeved that I’ll shortly be reheating leftovers instead of firing up the wok. (That’s a nice insight into the immaturity that is me.)
This is a recipe I got from the mother of a friend back when I was in uni. And it’s one of the few recipes that I haven’t tinkered with at all. I’m always very open when I tinker with a recipe – even from well respected chefs. But this one – it’s perfect as it is. It is truly just like what you get at (good) Thai restaurants. It is just like what you get from the streets of Thailand (minus the fried egg which seems to make an appearance on the side of most dishes in Thailand).
The name “Thai Chilli Basil Chicken” is a nice hint of two main ingredients in this recipe: Chillies and Basil. The basil used in the authentic version of this recipe is Holy Basil which is different to the sweet basil we use in Italian cooking and is also different to Thai Basil which is now widely available in Australia at supermarkets and green grocers (Coles, Woolies, Harris Farms). Holy Basil is available at some Asian grocery stores, and it tastes almost peppery with a hint of cloves.
If you can find it, use it. Die-hard-Thai-food-purists will tell you that you MUST use Holy Basil, otherwise don’t bother making this. I say that Thai Holy Basil is definitely worth using if you can find it (and if it’s not too expensive), but it will NOT make or break this dish.
I usually make this with Thai Basil because my closest (good) Asian store is 30 minutes away (?), and that’s what is pictured below and used in the video. The flavour is not quite the same as Holy Basil, but it’s similar. And if you can’t even find Thai Basil, it is most definitely still worth making this using normal basil. It is still a darn tasty stir fry, and it’s better with any type of basil than without.
Thai Chilli Basil Chicken is often quite saucy when you get it from restaurants which is not the way it is made in Thailand. This recipe sticks to the traditional way of cooking it with enough sauce to coat the stir fry but such that when you dish it up it is not sitting in a pool of sauce which frankly is too salty and unnecessary because the flavours of this dish are so strong, you don’t need all that sauce.
As with all stir fries, this recipe moves super fast once you start cooking – about 5 minutes. So if you can get the chopping done in 10 minutes, you’ll have dinner on the table in 15 minutes. Hey! That’s faster than ordering home delivery! – Nagi xx
PS Don’t forget to start the rice before you start because it takes longer to make than this Thai Chilli Basil Chicken!
Right off the streets of Thailand, made in your own home! The authentic version of this popular Thai street food uses Thai holy basil but normal Thai basil is a close substitute which is what I usually use because Holy basil is not readily available where I live. It is also still worth making even if you use normal basil!
- 225g / 7oz chicken thigh fillet, skinless boneless, cut into bite size pieces
- 1 scallion/shallot stem, cut into 4cm / 2" lengths.
- 1 cup Thai basil leaves, loosely packed (Holy Basil if you can find it) (Note 1)
- 2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped (Note 2)
- 1 birds eye or Thai chilli, deseed and finely chopped
- 1 1/2 tbsp oil (peanut, vegetable or canola)
- 2 tsp oyster sauce
- 1 tsp light soy sauce
- 1 tsp dark soy sauce (or all purpose) (Note 3)
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 tbsp water
Put Sauce ingredients in a small bowl and mix to combine.
Heat oil in wok or pan over high heat.
Add garlic and chilli and cook for 10 seconds. Don't inhale - the chilli will make you cough!
Add the white part of the shallots/scallions and chicken and fry until cooked, around 2 minutes.
Add sauce and cook for 1 minute until the water evaporates to make a thick glossy sauce.
Remove from heat and toss through green part of scallions/shallots and the end.basil leaves. Stir until just wilted, then serve immediately with rice.
1. Holy Basil is the type of Thai basil used in the authentic recipe. It has a more aniseedy / peppery flavour than normal sweet basil used in Italian cooking, and is available at Asian groceries. Thai Basil is the more common type of basil that is sold at supermarkets here in Australia (Coles, Woolies, Harris Farms). Because my closest Asian store is a trek away, I usually make this with Thai Basil. If you can't find Thai or Holy Basil, this is still totally worth making using normal basil. The sauce has a strong flavour and dominates, the basil is the secondary flavour.
2. Finely chopping the garlic rather than minced it (or using jarred garlic) stops it from burning quickly when it hits the hot wok.
3. The dark soy sauce darkens the colour of the stir fry. This can be substituted with ordinary soy sauce.
4. This recipe makes one giant serving or 2 reasonable sized servings. Complete the meal with a simple side of juicy slices of cucumber and tomato with no dressing - this is very Thai! Refreshing accompaniment to spicy Thai food.
Originally published in July 2014, updated with fresh new (better!) photos, new words, a recipe video and of course I added a Life of Dozer section!
Thai Chilli Basil Chicken recipe video!
Thai Chilli Basil Chicken nutrition per serving, assuming 2 servings.
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