Where I live in NYC, we don’t readily have Thai delivery. Not a huge deal to go out and get Thai food, except for the fact that it’s usually way more expensive than it needs to be and entirely too fancified. When I was in Arlington, we had some exemplary Thai restaurants, a few of them specializing in homestyle thai that I cannot even find here. I’m sure it exists – it’s just that it’s such a trial and error process, I rarely want to waste my dough on a new place.
My favorite dishes made with a homecooked sensibility (best made in VA at the Thai Square, with a close runner up of Rabieng) all include a heavy dose of chilies and basil. In an effort to quell my jonesing for home, I started making a few of these dishes for myself with excellent results. Mostly because I could gauge the freshness of the ingredients and make massive quantities for friends and family at half the price of restaurant dining. I really don’t mind spending money, but the food quality and difficulty in preparation has to be commensurate to the price. I can guarantee you that the folks at Thai Square aren’t using caviar and foie gras in their krapow – just good flask steak and fresh veggies. So why would I pay twice the amount here in NYC for old beef and overcooked veggies? Forget it.
This incredibly simple fried rice is versatile, and the combination of garlic, chilies and fragrant basil is a lovely alternative to the usual fried rice. I quite often make it with lean, white meat chicken, but my absolute favorite is to fold in lump blue crab in the last few minutes of cooking. Try it sometime as a lovely alternative to Chinese takeout. It suits your taste buds a whole lot more.
Basil Fried Rice
3 c. of cooked jasmine rice, cooled
1 c. of raw chicken, pork, shrimp, or lump crabmeat
1/4 tsp. of salt
1/4 tsp. of white pepper
1/4 tsp. of ground ginger
1 scallion, thinly sliced
2 c. of thai basil leaves, loosely packed
1/2 of a green bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
1/2 of a red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
1/2 of a small red onion, sliced into thin strips
1 1/2 tbs. of fish sauce
2 tbs. of oyster sauce
1/4 c. of vegetable oil
1 tsp. of crushed thai red chilies
1 thai bird chili, sliced into rings (optional)
6 cl. of garlic, finely chopped
lime wedges (garnish)
cilantro leaves (garnish)
Season rice with the salt, pepper, ginger and scallions. Stir and set aside. Heat oil in a wok or large skillet until smoking. Toss in your protein (unless you are using crab meat or raw shrimp – then you should skip to the next step). Stir for about a minute and then toss in basil leaves, bell peppers, red onion, chilies and garlic. Stir for a minute and then add the fish sauce and oyster sauce. If you are using shrimp, add it now. Stir to combine and then add the rice. Keep on stiring until all ingredients are incorporated and rice starts to crisp up a bit on the bottom of the wok, about 2-3 minutes. If you are using crab meat, add it in the last one minute of cooking. Serve immediately. Before eating, squeeze a wedge of lime over the rice and toss some cilantro leaves over the top.