After I got married back in 2004, I landed a job as a Software Developer at Imagine Systems, Inc. It was a far cry from the restaurant work that I had become accustomed to. Little did I know that this job would change my foodie life one day.
It all started with a gentleman named Anurak. He was our resident web designer, and a damn fine one at that. He was Thai. He went out for Thai food nearly every single day, with or without the rest of us.
I considered myself a foodie back then, but wow, how naive I was (and probably still am)! It had to be within my first month that I got invited out with everybody to the best Thai restaurant in San Bernardino according to Anurak. At the time, I had NEVER had Thai food in my life. I love spicy food, but never knew about this. How could this be?! Just one lunch was all it took, and I was changed forever. Thai had now become my favorite cuisine.
The rest, as they say, was history.
So, today I want to share with you my best offering of a classic Thai dish called Gai Pad Gra Pow.
It’s really simple to make, and it packs a wallop of flavor (as it should)!
I get the impression from the many Pad Gra Pow dishes I’ve had from different restaurants, that there’s no hard and fast rules as to which veggies you’re supposed to use WITH THE EXCEPTION of peppers and onions.
I can’t fathom a dish without them, frankly!
I also wanted to throw in the mix a Japanese eggplant, and a beautiful heirloom tomato.
The process that I used this time was that of a stir-fry, and sautéd each veggie separately in a crazy-hot pan, setting them aside on one my big red plate-bowls.
Eggplant was first, then the peppers, followed by the onions.
Chicken was up next – I took four chicken breasts (about 1 1/4 pounds total), and sliced them thinly. I seasoned the chicken with pepper before adding to the pan. No salt here – that’s what the fish sauce is for, which we’ll cover… Now!
As the chicken cooks, we make ready the spice slurry. The garlic, chiles, red curry paste, fish sauce, oyster sauce, chicken stock, and a wee bit of sugar gets all mixed up together, and then everything goes in the pan. All the veggies, spice slurry, and chicken are combined in a glorious symphony of flavor!
Now for the finisher – Thai Basil! This is the true star of the dish. It’s just not the same without it. I ripped up the leaves and added them to the mix, taking this dish over the edge. If you can’t find Thai Basil, you can use Sweet Italian. If you live in Riverside, the Farmers Market has Thai Basil now though, so you have NO EXCUSE!
I found this particular combination of spices to be the closest I’ve ever gotten to the true flavors of the authentic Thai restaurants. Next time, I’ll sauté the veggies a little less so they retain more of their crunch.
I hope you enjoy!
Spicy Basil Thai Chicken
Published: August 26, 2011
As close as you can get to the restaurant style Pad Gra Pow!
1 ¼ Pounds Chicken, sliced thinly
1 Red Onion, medium, julienned
1 Green Pepper, julienned
1 Japanese Eggplant, sliced in half moons
4 Garlic Cloves, diced
6 Thai Chiles, sliced paper thin
1 Tomato, large, diced
2 Tablespoons Fish Sauce
2 Tablespoons Oyster Sauce
1 teaspoon Granulated Sugar
¼ – ½ Cup Chicken Stock
2 teaspoons Thai Red Curry Paste
10 – 15 Thai Basil Leaves, coarsely chopped
1- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil for sautéing veggies
Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add ½ tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, and sauté the eggplant, onions, and peppers separately for one to two minutes for each group. Start with the eggplant, making sure to get a nice brown, then move to the onions and peppers. After each group, remove from the pan, and pile together on a bowl or plate. While the vegetables cook, prepare the spice slurry, mixing the garlic, chiles, curry paste, fish sauce, oyster sauce, sugar and ¼ cup of chicken stock. Mix together well so the curry paste blends. If you want a more saucy dish, add the remaining chicken stock. Now, add the chicken to the pan, and cook until just done. Return the vegetables to the pan along with the spice slurry, and diced tomatoes and mix until heated through. Remove from heat, and add the basil leaves. Serve alone or with brown rice.
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 12 min
Total time: 32 min
Yield: 4 servings
Calories per serving: 258
Fat per serving: 9.2g
Saturated Fat per serving: 1.2g
Cholesterol per serving: 66.9mg
Sodium per serving: 1252.5mg
Carbohydrates per serving: 15.8g
Fiber per serving: 3.5g
Sugars per serving: 8.5g
Protein per serving: 27.7g