Friday, December 25, 2009


The other night I made gaprow, the Thai stir-fry of minced meat, chilli and basil. This actually was not a dish I learned at Thai cooking school, but the recipe was in this month's Cook's Illustrated. Unlike in the classic stir-fry method where you add cold oil to a scorching hot pan, it involves sauteing the aromatics over low heat at the beginning to infuse the meat with full flavor during the stir fry. This was such an easy and beautiful meal, to table in less than 20 minutes. The recipe is supposed to serve four — maybe alongside other Thai dishes — but two piggies would eat it all up.

1. Chop a cup of Thai basil leaves, 5 or so garlic cloves, and 6-10 green or red Thai chillis (green is hotter, red prettier in this dish) in the food processor. Transfer 1 T. of this mix to a bowl and stir in 1 T. fish sauce, 1 T. oyster sauce, 1 T sugar and 1 tsp. white vinegar. Put the rest of the basil mix in a wok or skillet. Do not wash food processor.

2. Now cut a pound of chicken breast into smallish pieces. Pulse these in the food processor with another T. of fish sauce until the meat is chopped small (but not as fine as commercial ground meat).

3. Slice three shallots thinly and add these and 2 T. veg oil to the wok. Heat over medium-low, stirring, 5 minutes to brown garlic and shallots.

4. Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the chicken. Stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, breaking up the meat until just traces of pink remain, then add reserved basil-sauce mixture and cook another minute until chicken is done. Taste and adjust seasonings. Stir in another cup of basil leaves until just wilted and serve.

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