For cooks out there, I promise you will love this basil chicken recipe!

    ”You don’t have to know the taste of your ingredients. You must listen to your              ingredients” ~Francis Trocellier from “Seven Fires” by Francis Mallmann

                               My Favorite (Thai) Basil Chicken Dish

Basil, garlic, and shallots are some of my favorite herbs. Lucky for me, they are the key ingredients to this Basil Chicken dish.

This famous Thai dish certainly became a new American favorite, so much that Cook’s magazine spent time experimenting with it in their kitchen. I cannot recall any details of the article since I read it in a library months ago. However, I would like to suggest one tip that Cook’s magazine didn’t offer for stir-fry lovers out there: invest on a non-stick flat bottom wok.

I purchased my first decent wok from a college grocery store for $18 and it was worth every penny. The bottom fits well on my cheap electric stove, the heat travels evenly, and it is so easy to clean!

Also get a couple of wooden spatulas along with the wok. Plastic will eventually melt (unless you spend a ridiculous amount of money on a good brand)! Metal ones will scratch the bottom of the wok and there would be no point in having a non-stick pan after all.

To begin prepping ingredients, I minced the chicken thighs with a cleaver but you will get an even better texture if you grind it with a food processor. Ground turkey, pork, and beef or fresh (peeled and deveined) shrimps are other great options.

I’m not picky with basil; I use whatever is available in the market. They all taste pretty darn good to me! If desired, you can add extra vegetables such as string beans, bell peppers, and broccoli. Make sure to not put too many extra vegetables because they can easily overcrowd the wok and overpower the taste of basil leaves. Don’t forget to adjust the spice according to your tolerance!

Get these ingredients:

1 lb minced chicken thigh
1/2 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil
1 head minced shallot (can be substituted with red onions but it won’t be as delish)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1-2 tablespoons chopped bird eyes chili or jalapeño  
1 cup loosely packed basil leaves
1/3 cup thinly sliced bell peppers, I recommend using yellow, red, or orange bell peppers
1/3 cup thinly sliced chopped white onions
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
1/2 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons of water

Ready?

Combine fish sauce, dark soy sauce, and sugar in a small bowl. Set up the wok on a medium-high heat and add oil. Once the oil is hot, (please no fuming hot oil, we don’t want the herbs to burn) add garlic, shallots, and chili.Stir the herbs continuously for about 15 seconds then add the chicken. Allow the chicken to cook for a minute or two then add the sauce that was mixed earlier. Keep your eyes on the wok and keep stirring. When chicken thigh looks cooked ( it turns into a white-ish color), add the vegetables and cook for about one more minute. The yellow bell peppers and onions do not take more than a minute to cook so make sure you time it right so they won’t be overcooked. I personally enjoy my vegetables a little crunchy so sometimes I even cook it for about 30 seconds.  Add some water to increase the sauce’s volume. Once the meat and the vegetables are well done, turn off your stove, then lightly tossed in the basil leaves.
I’m in favor of eating this dish with a nice warm jasmine rice!
Content:
All literary works and photos are my original works otherwise stated. They cannot be reproduce in part or in whole unless prior consent from me, or appropriately mention of the source

Steamed Eggplant Sauté in Black Bean Sauce with Spring Green Onions and Garlic

Steamed Eggplant Sauté in Black Bean Sauce with Spring Green Onions and Garlic
The eggplant in this dish cost me a dollar. I got a bag of out-products eggplant from Berkeley Bowl, a supermarket in Berkeley, CA.  You can get this similar deal by start visiting local farmer markets and farms near you! You will be surprised how much fresh produce you can get for a few bucks. This dish is light; best to serve with something more flavorful, like a Thai curry.

3 long purple eggplant, diagonally cut into 1 inch thick pieces
3 garlic cloves, chopped finely
1 stalk spring green onion, cut diagonally into small pieces
4 tablespoon black bean sauce
½ tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon sweet dark soy sauce (optional)
1 tablespoon olive oil
a pinch of black peppers
a pinch of sugar (optional)

Bring a steamer to rolling boil, steam the eggplant for about 10-15 minutes. Use a heatproof plate if you don’t own a steamer. Once the eggplant is tender, it will not hold its form very well; remove gently and set aside. Check if the eggplant is cooked by poking it with a fork. Cooked eggplant will change their color to faded purple and has a slight brown tone.
Meanwhile, prepare the seasoning sauce by mixing the black bean sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and black peppers in a small bowl.
Once the eggplant is ready, heat olive oil in medium low heat then add garlic. Maintain this heat consistently so that the garlic won’t burn, but still get cooked.  
Add the eggplant. Gently “fold” the eggplant into the sauce until well combined. As you will notice, steamed eggplant does not hold its shape, it will turn into a puree if stirs too often and too hard!  Add the green onions and let it simmer for about 2 more minutes. 
Serve!

Content:
All literary works and photos are my original works otherwise stated. They cannot be reproduce in part or in whole unless prior consent from me, or appropriately mention of the source

Salmon Bath in Peanut-y Red Curry Sauce and Bell Peppers

Hello! As promised, I’m back with a recipe for the salmon dish that I made about three weeks ago. Because salmon tastes good by itself, I was worried that adding too much flavor to it would ruin the experience of eating it. It turned out that the flavor of the red curry paste and the peanut butter did not overwhelmed the flavor of the salmon. In fact, you will taste all of the three flavors as they melted away in your mount. 

Ingredients:

-1 piece salmon fillet

-1/2 tablespoon canola, vegetable, olive oil

-1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk, shake the can before use

-1/2 cup bell peppers, thinly sliced

-1 tablespoon red curry paste

-1 tablespoon peanut butter

-1/3 tablespoon fish sauce

-1 tablespoon minced cilantro

- a wedge of lime

Cooking Instruction:

1) In a pan, warm canola or vegetable oil over medium heat, then add the curry paste. Stir until it fragrants. 

2) Once they are fragrant, add the coconut milk and peanut butter. Stir until they mix well and wait until the fat (which looks like oil from peanut butter, coconut milk, and canola oil) to settles on the surface. The fat should look like orange oily dots on the surface.

3) Add all the flavors and the salmon! Simmer the salmon in the sauce until cooked. 

Writing for Wesleyan Argus

Sorry for slacking off! School recently started and I have a senior project to finish by the end of February. I am still cooking everyday and have been taking a lot of photos. I just need to start writing out the recipe. 

This semester, I joined my university’s newspaper, The Wesleyan Argus. My goal is to share recipes I cook in my apartment with the rest of campus. The first article was published last week. It is another version of the soba salad that I made last month. Check it out: Lalita’s Kitchen: Soba Salad. (Search “Lalita’s Kitchen” if the link doesn’t take you there) The pictures didn’t make it to the print. I would love to share them here.

Nam Jim Thale ( seafood dipping sauce) on top of Duck from an Asian grocery store, Rum and Coke, and Family Guy

It was a boring Saturday afternoon. I was missing Thailand and I didn’t want to do any work. I started to watch Family Guy with my boyfriend and drank rum and coke (in a wine glass). I got hungry. It happened to be one of those days that there was not much in the fridge but some leftover duck. Happiness then came over me as I remembered street vendors in Thailand selling roasted duck along the road in a community where I used to live. They would come with watered down nam jim thale, so we have to make some of our own we got home. Nam Jim Thale means seafood dipping sauce; as the name has hinted, the sauce is often serve with seafood dishes such as steamed mussels and barbeque squids…the sauce is also excellent with roast duck!

Thai Nam Jim Thale

Servings: 5-10

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

1/4 cup bird’s eye chili, aka Thai prik kee nuu, roughly chopped 

1/4 cup garlic, roughly chopped 

1/4 cup lime juice (use fresh limes if you have them!) 

1/4 cup fish sauce 

1/4 teaspoon sugar

How to:

In a food processor, using chopping/mixing mode, chop the garlic and chili until very fine. Scoop them into a small bowl then add the reminding ingredient and mix well. Wow, ready to serve!

Tips: I grew up using a stone mortar and pestle instead of a food processor. I would highly recommend using that instead of a food processor if you have it. A mortar and pestle can break in-between skins and layers of garlic and chili, so that they give out different fragrances and more flavorful than when using a food processor. Food processors can only chop into smaller pieces, and do not penetrate the skins.  



Zucchini and Tofu with a sprinkle of Curry Powder

I have so much zucchini from the fruit and veg co-op at Wes. Usually, I like to put zucchini in green curry or to fry them with eggs. Today, I tried to add a new flavor to zucchini. Looking at my spice racks, I noticed a curry powder that I probably have used only twice in a year, so I thought why not try it on zucchini since it takes new flavors well.

Serving: 1

Time: 10-15 minutes

Ingredients

- 1 medium zucchini, cut into thin slices

-1/2 cup tofu, cut into about 2 square centimeters pieces

-1 scallion, cut into 1inch pieces

-1/2 tbs vegetable oil

-1/2 tbs garlic

-1/2 tbs soy sauce

-1/4 tsp curry power

-salt and pepper, to taste

Making it:

In a non-stick pan, heat oil over medium high heat. Brown your garlic, then add in the tofu. Once the tofu is slightly browned, added zucchini and the remaining ingredients. Stir until the zucchini is cooked, when it becomes soft and wilts. Serve on top of warm rice.

Rad Nar Noodle

Last week, a Thai student group on campus, Pad Thai, had its first meeting of the school year. I made vegetarian Rad Nar, a fried rice noodle topped with Chinese broccoli in gravy sauce for everyone to try. Typically Rad Nar uses flat rice noodles, the same ones that are used in Chowfun. I didn’t have it on hand, so I substituted thin rice noodles (use in Pad Thai). However, you can find them in most Asian Grocery stores in the produce section. Rad Nar  served in Thailand or in Thai restaurants in the United States, often has a variety of noodles to choose from. In addition to thin and flat rice noodles, they may also offer egg noodles or rice vermicelli. The dish is served with condiments such as sugar, pickled chili in vinegar, ground dry chili pepper, white pepper, and fish sauce. You can play around with the flavors (to suit your taste).

Ingredients:

Servings: 5

Time: 50 minutes

Ingredients for noodle:

-5oz package of noodles, soaked in water for at least 20 minutes and rinsed. Cut into small approximately 6 inches  pieces before cooking.

- 1 ½ tablespoon sweet soy sauce

- 1 tablespoon canola oil

Ingredients for topping sauce:

-1 ½ cups of Chinese broccoli ( Thai Pak Kha Na)

- 1 cup tofu, cut into 2 cm square pieces

- 1 cup of shitake mushrooms, depending on size cut into halves or smaller

-1 tablespoon vegetable oil

- ½ tablespoon garlic, finely chopped

- 1 cube bullion

- ½ teaspoon fermented soybeans

- 2 tablespoon soy sauce

- 1 tablespoon fish sauce

- ½ tablespoon sugar

- 1/8 teaspoon white pepper

- 1 tablespoon tapioca powder, mixed in a small bowl with 1/3 cup of cold water and set aside

Making noodle:

In a nonstick pan or wok, heat the oil over medium heat. Fry the noodles in the pan, adding sweet soy sauce. Mix evenly. If noodles form into a large chuck, use two wooden spatulas to pull them apart so they cook evenly. The noodles are ready when softened; they will turn brown or maybe slightly burnt. Set the noodles aside in a deep plate.

Making topping:

In a wok or a saucepan, brown garlic over medium heat. Add about two cups of water and bullion (adjust the proportion of water according to the bullion you use but ensure that there is enough water to cover the noodles). Bring the broth to boil then lower the heat. Add all flavorings EXCEPT for the tapioca mix. Add the tofu and shiitake mushrooms. Cook over medium heat.

Stir tapioca mix* you set aside earlier, then add it into the broth. Tapioca helps to thicken the broth. Stir constantly so they don’t form jelly-like chunks. After it’s cooked, serve the sauce on top of the noodles!

Tips:

*Don’t forget this step because the tapioca powder will sink to the bottom of the bowl in cold water. To make a gravy texture, NEVER add tapioca powder directly into hot water without mixing first in cold water. If put the powder goes directly into hot water, it will immediately form chunks of jelly that are impossible to break and you will have to start over!

Tofu and mushrooms can be substituted with your favorite meat or seafood. Chinese broccoli can be substitute with regular broccoli, carrots, spinach, and cauliflowers.

I find this ehow.com recipe to be accurate. I also love this video from an imported ingredients online store, they went to Thailand and captured some common dishes. I hope the video will encourage you to make it!


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