Whether it’s the movie “Food, Inc.“, “How’d That Get On My Plate?” on Food Network, or the vegetable garden on the White House lawn, where our food is coming from and how it’s getting to us are becoming topics of conversation I’m hearing more and more. This is not a subject in which I consider myself to be well-versed, so I will instead refer you to Erin’s site, I Walk In This World, where she has an entire page devoted specifically to ethical eating. Another great post about local food production comes from Nick at imafoodblog. Now, to be honest, I am not keen on the picture of a lamb below the picture of the meat on the grill, that’s putting too much of a face on my dinner, but otherwise, he offers great information about seeking out local farms. While I am not an expert, nor do I have all the answers, I get the gist that eating locally is better. Better for you, better for the environment, better all around. And, what is more local (and fresh!) than from your own garden? That is the idea behind Grown Your Own, a twice-monthly blogging event to showcase the foods grown in your own garden. When Amy at Playing House posted about this a few weeks ago, I was intrigued.
Now, living in an apartment with a small deck, I don’t have much room for growing my own produce or herbs, but I do have a small pot of basil alongside some cacti and flowers. I decided that if I was going to grow one edible thing, it would be basil because basil is so versatile and is also the only herb I really hate using the dried version of. It’s also much more economical to buy a basil plant that replenishes itself versus spending $2 for a tiny little plastic carton of fresh herbs in my produce department. The only problem with this is that I now have an abundance of basil staring at me, waiting to be used. While I love basil and was sure I would just use gobs and gobs of it, I haven’t used it once. I decided to purposely seek out a recipe that would allow me to use up my basil, and I found this Basil Chicken recipe.
I’m not sure why I didn’t think of it sooner since almost every time we go for Thai food, I get the Thai Basil Chicken. It has to be one of my favorite meals ever. I love the sweetness of the basil with the salty, spiciness of the sauce. I have tried to recreate the recipe at home using a recipe from Martha Stewart but haven’t been able to really capture the right flavors of the dish. Until now, that is.
While my finished dish didn’t end up looking anything like the picture of the original recipe, it was absolutely delicious. I was nervous that I had done something wrong because I wasn’t getting a nice brown color to my sauce, but maybe that is because I used regular soy sauce instead of black soy sauce. I did make a few modifications to the recipe such as adding green bell pepper and using red pepper flakes in place of the jalapeno seeds. I really like things spicy, but Ryan has a lower heat tolerance than I do so I wanted to err on the side of caution by omitting the jalapeno seeds. Once I tasted the sauce, I felt it could use a bit more spice, so I added the crushed red pepper flakes. If you wanted a sweeter, less spicy sauce, you could omit both and still have great flavor. I also decided to julienne the larger basil leaves instead of leaving them whole just because I wanted to make sure the basil flavor was well-dispersed.
Ryan and I both agreed this was delicious. He wished there was a bit more sauce to add to the rice, but we were both surprised how flavorful the chicken was given such a short cooking time. I also want to mention that I got to test out my new rice cooker for this dish, and I really don’t know how I lived without one! I have always had such a hard time getting brown rice to cook to the right texture, and the rice cooker worked like a charm. Pretty good for a rice cooker we bought using Dave and Buster’s tickets, huh?
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 medium green bell pepper, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 small chicken breast, thinly sliced
2 small jalapenos, thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
2 tablespoons soy sauce
¼ cup fish sauce
1 cup fresh basil, julienned
black pepper, to taste
Prepare the ingredients as instructed.
Heat a wok until its surface is smoking hot. Swirl in the oil to coat the wok surface.
Wait a few seconds for the oil to heat, then stir in the onion and bell pepper. Saute for 1 to 2 minutes; add garlic.
Stir another 15 to 20 seconds before adding the chicken.
Stir-fry 3 to 5 minutes, or until most of the chicken has changed color on the outside and is no longer pink.
Toss in the jalapenos and crushed red pepper flakes. Sprinkle soy sauce over the mixture and stir-fry for another 15 to 20 seconds.
Add fish sauce, then stir in the fresh basil. Toss well.
Stir-fry another 1/2 to 1 minute, or until the basil is wilted and the chicken cooked through.
Sprinkle with pepper.
Stir and transfer to a serving dish, or spoon directly over individual plates of steamed brown rice.
4 servings | 5 POINTS