Thai Basil Stir-Fry

This is one of our favorites when in Thailand. You can find the ingredients at Asian food stores. The lime leaves can be used fresh or frozen. You may also find live Thai basil at plant nurseries (even ones like Lowe’s and Home Depot) in the spring and summer. Buy it one year, then dry some of the seeds to plant the following year. It is very hearty to grow with daily water and sun.

3 Tbs. peanut oil for stir-frying 5 cloves garlic, peeled (I remove before eating) 

1/4 of an onion, sliced

1 lb. ground chicken, beef or turkey 

12-20 Thai chilies, cut into very thin rounds; or substitute 4-6 serrano, jalapeño or fresno peppers, cut into large slivers with seeds

2 small kaffir lime leaves , very finely slivered 

2-3 tsp. black soy sauce (the semi-sweet kind), or to taste 1 Tbs. fish sauce 

1 cup fresh Thai holy basil, or Thai sweet basil leaves and flower buds (you may also used 1/2 amount of dried which has been soaked in water for 1 hour. Drain dried before using) Leave the fresh basil leaves whole; the flower buds may also be used. May use regular fresh basil if Thai basil is unavailable.


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 garlic, followed a few seconds later with the onion. 

Stir another 15 to 20 seconds before adding the chicken. Stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes, or until most of the meat has changed color on the outside and is no longer pink. Toss in the chillies, slivered kaffir lime leaves (if using), and softened dried holy basil (if using). 

Sprinkle black soy sauce over the mixture and stir-fry for another 15 to 20 seconds. Season to taste with 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.

Stir and transfer to a serving dish, or spoon directly over individual plates of plain steamed rice.


Live Thai Basil


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