Chilli & Basil Chicken with Steamed Rice


This is another dish that grabs my attention at Amphawa Floating Market, where I smell the wonderful aroma long before I see it being cooked. I always try to eat this when I’m in Thailand – it’s a classic stir-fry that’s also made using pork and is generally not hard to find. The star ingredient is holy basil which is very different in character to sweeter Thai basil; spicy, a little sharp, peppery and zesty, it has distinctive anise-like overtones. It’s always used in cooked dishes, unlike Thai basil which can be used raw in salads. Holy basil is just too strong. The leaf has little jagged edges and the stems are a bit purplish and you’ll find it in Thai or other general Asian food stores in the fresh produce section. Using a mortar and pestle to grind up the ingredients, rather than a food processor, is important as this properly releases all the oils and juices from the chillies, garlic and shallots, and gives the finished dish a real depth of flavour. 

- Luke Nguyen from Street Food Asia

Photographer - Alan Benson

SERVES 4–6 As part o f a shared meal


6 garlic cloves

4 red asian shallots

4 thai red chillies

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

400g boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 3 cm chunks

2 makrut leaves (kaffir lime), finely sliced

1 large handful, holy basil or Thai basil leaves

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

steamed jasmine rice, to serve


1 tablespoon oyster sauce

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 teaspoon light soy sauce

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon sweet dark soy sauce


Using a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic, shallots and chillies to a rough paste. Set aside.

Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and mix until the sugar has dissolved.

Heat a wok until smoking hot. Add the vegetable oil and sauté the garlic, shallot and chilli paste for 1 minute, then add the chicken pieces and stir-fry for 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Pour over the sauce and stir-fry for a further minute.

Stir in the sliced makrut leaves, basil and white pepper, transfer to a serving platter and serve with steamed jasmine rice.

Phuong Nguyen