Tag Archives: thai

Basil Fried Rice

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.

Basil Fried Rice © Spice or Die

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.

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce and Cucumber Relish

Satay It Ain’t So!

Well before I learned how friggin’ easy it was to make satay, I would order them every time I had Thai food.  There was something about the coconut milk bath that made the chicken so incredibly tender – I just couldn’t get enough.  This recipe is not only simple, but also a nice alternative to your traditional barbecue.  Throw your guests a curve ball and make some satay instead of the usual grilled chicken – it works great as not only an appetizer, but also as an entree with rice or as a protein in a deconstructed salad.  I even wrap them in lettuce leaves sometimes for a hand-held treat.

Chicken Satay © Spice or Die

The chicken gets an added kick from some crucial condiments – peanut sauce (make your own or buy a jar at the store) and a spicy, sweet cucumber relish.  The relish is usually prepared with slivers of red onion, slices of cucumber and bits of thai bird chilies.  I, on the other hand, make mine as a thai pico de gallo by dicing all of the ingredients and mixing with rice wine vinegar and cilantro.

The sauce gets a bit of heat from the red curry paste, a fragrant combination of red chilies, garlic, ginger and lemongrass.  If you don’t like things so spicy, leave out a tablespoon of the red curry.  You can also add a squeeze of lime to the marinade to brighten up the works.  I use chicken thighs because they are flavorful and don’t dry out easily, but you can use chicken breasts if you prefer them.  This is best on the grill outdoors, but you can certainly use a grill pan or the broiler in a pinch.

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

1 1/2 lbs. of boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3 tbs. of red curry paste
3 tbs. of fish sauce
2 cl. of garlic, minced or microplaned
2 tsp. of salt
1 can of coconut milk

Whisk the red curry paste, fish sauce, garlic, salt and coconut milk until smooth.  Slice the chicken thighs into thirds and add to marinade.  Refrigerate overnight.

Heat a grill to smoking hot.  Shake the excess marinade from the chicken and grill until the chicken is cooked all the way through.  Served with peanut sauce and cucumber relish.

Cucumber Relish

1/2 of a cucumber, finely diced
1/2 of a jalapeno, finely diced
1 shallot, finely diced
3 tbs. of cilantro, chopped
4 tbs. of rice wine vinegar
2 tbs. of water
1/4 tsp. of sesame oil
1/4 tsp. of salt
1 tsp. of sugar

Mix all ingredients in a bowl.  Put in the refrigerator to chill.  Serve cool with piping hot chicken satay.

Grilled Lemongrass Beef

A Sweet and Salty Affair

From chocolate covered pretzels to a salt-rimmed margarita, our palettes all crave the goodness that is sweet and salty.  This recipe tackles all the taste points, with a fair share of sweet, salty and tart.  I slather this simple marinade on beef and grill until charred on the outside and juicy pink on the inside, but you can certainly use it on pork or chicken as well.  It’s comprised of a simple kalbi sauce (a delicious combo of brown sugar, soy and mirin used in Korean BBQ), a splash of toasted sesame oil, and an aromatic bit of ground lemongrass (which can be found at Asian markets or online).  I’ve given you the lazy version below that uses a pack of Noh Korean Barbecue mix – I score the packets on Amazon along with orders of char su, the lovely crimson Chinese marinade used on roasted pork.  If you want to go homemade, though, you can certainly make it from scratch using some soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil, sugar and salt and pepper.  Garnish with white and black sesame seeds for an added bit of lovely. Continue reading Grilled Lemongrass Beef

Sweet Peanut Lime Dressing

Sweetie Peeties

This dressing is a variation of one of my favorite go-to dressings, a light citrus combo that is sweetened with a bit of sugar and honey.  I use it on my Thai Chopped Salad with Crisp Noodles and Herbs, but if you leave out the peanut sauce, you can use it as the basis for a Mandarin Orange Salad or even as a marinade for meat or vegetables.  The recipe calls for peanut sauce, but if you don’t have any around, substitute a tablespoon of smooth peanut butter.  If you are vegan and looking to use peanut sauce, try to find one without fish sauce.  Or just use the aforementioned peanut butter trick.  Word. Continue reading Sweet Peanut Lime Dressing

Thai Chopped Salad with Crisp Noodles and Herbs

Chopper Style

There’s a time and a place for Applebee’s, and that’s when your dead.  Kidding, but seriously, the salads at all these chain restaurants (I’m talking to you too, Chilis and TGIFridays) are a waste of money.  I’m sure that the dressings are prepackaged with all kinds of preservatives, and heaven knows when the produce last left the garden.  It’s a waste of cash as well.  The only thing that they’re doing right is illustrating the point that salads don’t have to be boring.

This particular recipe reminds me of all of my favorite things about a salad – exceedingly crisp, ultra light, and super refreshing.  Matchsticks of carrot, daikon and red bell pepper give an addictive crunch, and the crisp noodles help to soak up the yummy peanut lime dressing.  Cilantro and mint add spice and sweetness, and the dressing gets a kick from a bit of chili and garlic.  It’s all around goodness. Continue reading Thai Chopped Salad with Crisp Noodles and Herbs