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Spicy Thai Chicken With Basil Recipe

Jalapeños, onions, and garlic are just some of the flavors coming together in this mouthwatering dish.
Spicy Thai Chicken With Basil RecipeMitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

The cuisines of Southeast Asia—Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian—deliver more flavor per calorie than any other on the planet and make for a refreshing break from the cartons of Chinese takeout that clutter so many American refrigerators. This Thai classic (called gai pad grapow) gets its flavor from chiles, garlic, and fresh herbs—nutritional powerhouses known to boost metabolism and fight cancer. Together, they also make for a full-throttle flavor experience that trumps nearly any Chinese stir-fry in the health department. Adjust the heat in this Thai chicken recipe to your liking, but if it’s not at least somewhat fiery, then it’s not Thai.

Nutrition: 190 calories, 6 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 890 mg sodium

Serves 4

You’ll Need

1 Tbsp peanut or canola oil
1  medium red onion, thinly sliced
2  jalapeño peppers, thinly sliced (or more if you really like your food fiery)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1  lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
2  Tbsp fish sauce (If you absolutely can’t find fish sauce, you can substitute with more low-sodium soy sauce and a dash of Worcestershire, which is actually made in a similar manner as fish sauce.)
1 Tbsp sugar
1  Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
2  cups fresh basil leaves (preferably Thai or holy basil, but you’ll only find those at specialty markets)

How to Make It

  1. Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet.
  2. When hot, add the onion, jalapeños, and garlic and stir-fry for 2 minutes, using a metal spatula to keep the ingredients in motion.
  3. Add the chicken and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the meat is beginning to brown on the outside.
  4. Add the fish sauce, sugar, soy sauce, and basil and cook for 1 minute more.
  5. Serve over rice.

Eat This Tip

Made from fermented oily fish, fish sauce tends to pack a stiff aroma. But this funky condiment forms the backbone of much of Southeast Asian cuisine and, despite its strong nose, adds a pleasantly salty, sweet punch of flavor to a variety of dishes and sauces. Find a bottle in large grocery stores or Asian markets. We find that the Thai Kitchen brand is the easiest for fish sauce newbies to enjoy.

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