After visiting my favourite Thai restaurant for lunch last week, I discovered an amazing chilli chicken dish which I just had to recreate at home. Often it’s not difficult to work out what’s in the dish, use your eyes, and your half way there, then your taste and et viola! So that’s where I started.
Now, I’m certainly no expert, but it’s a good idea to remember that there are a few fundamental basics in Thai food; and if you follow them you can’t go far wrong. Start with chilli, ginger, garlic and Thai basil, which together create that notorious Thai flavour.
I quite literally would have made this the next day if I could find Thai basil. Something I’d overlooked was that it is just out of season, so it was a little more difficult to find than I’d first thought. I searched supermarkets, called garden centres, and just when I thought I’d have to order it online, pay a ridiculous delivery cost and wait a gruelling 3-4 days for delivery I stumbled upon some in Waitrose. This made my day!
Normally, I encourage people to experiment with recipes, change ingredients to suit their taste (after all, there a no strict rules, you don’t have to stick to a recipe), that’s the true beauty of cooking and recipe development. However, on this occasion you must not substitute the Thai basil for any other type, it is such a key flavour in this dish. Thai basil has a strong aniseed flavour and the aroma is just heavenly.
To accompany the chilli chicken I decided on Pad Thai noodles, mainly because it’s one of my favourites, but also because you can get some great readymade Pad Thai sauces and pastes to help you along the way. Of course, you can go all out and make it from scratch, if you have the time, but the shop bought pastes really are very good.
Another must with this recipe is Singha beer to wash it all down. Perfect!
For the Thai chilli chicken (see below for the Pad Thai)
380g chicken cut into strips
2 tbsp olive oil
4 fresh Thai finger chillies, red or mixed
4 cloves of garlic chopped
3cm piece of ginger grated
100ml soy sauce
Bunch Thai basil (must be Thai basil, you cannot substitute ordinary basil)
2 banana shallots thinly sliced
1 pack bean sprouts
Packet of Sharwood’s Thai spiced crackers
2 Singha Beers
- Start by placing your chicken in a shallow dish; add the soy sauce, garlic, ginger, half of the Thai basil and three of the Thai chillies, mix together with your hands until evenly combined. Leave to marinade for at least 30 minutes, but if you have the time, a couple of hours is best.
- Add the olive oil to a wok or frying pan, set on a medium heat and add the chicken, making sure you use all of the marinade, stir fry for about 6 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.
- Add the shallots and cook for a further 3-4 minutes, ensuring you stir continuously to prevent the chicken or shallots from burning. Add the bean sprouts and cook for 2-3 minutes. Squeeze over the juice of half a lime.
- Serve immediately with a sprinkling of Thai basil, wedges of lime and chopped chilli to garnish (this extra chopped chilli adds a real kick, so if you prefer a milder taste just leave this out).
For the prawn Pad Thai:
150g rice noodles
5 tbsp Pad Thai paste
1 fresh red Thai finger chilli
3 tbsp roughly chopped peanuts or cashews
2 tbsp olive oil
200g cooked king prawns
1 large egg beaten
- Soak the rice noodles in a large covered bowl of boiling water for 10 minutes.
- Add the olive oil to a pan and cook the prawns over a medium heat for 3 minutes, until heated through.
- Add the beaten egg to the pan, reduce the heat and stir continuously. The egg should be slightly scrambled, but not completely cooked.
- Add half of the Pad Thai paste and allow to heat through before adding the noodles and other half of the paste. Stir fry for 3 minutes, adding half of the peanuts at the last minute.
- Serve the Pad Thai with the remaining peanuts and a freshly chopped chilli to garnish.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
If you try your hand at this one, let me know what you think and how it turns out. Also, if you make any alterations come back and share them!
If, like me, you struggle to find Thai basil you can order it online from Thai Food Online, or just try Waitrose first!
This recipe is very spicy, the way good Thai food should be. But, if your not so brave just reduce the amount of chilli. I would advise you to go as hot as possible, but obviously the aim is to enjoy it, so I’ll leave that up to you.