Monday, January 25, 2010


Monday: Spicy Basil Chicken; kalijira rice

First, a quick note about the rice - kalijira, a tiny and aromatic rice, is from Bangladesh, which currently has banned rice exports. While good for the people of Bangladesh (... I hope!), since it will theoretically make rice more affordable there, it is sad for me. I love kalijira rice probably more than is reasonable, and it's very very difficult to get in the U.S. right now. We still have a small amount, and while I *could* just eat it unadorned (truly, it is a wonderfully tasty rice), I made some for dinner tonight.

The chicken was adapted from a Cook's Illustrated recipe. Their method is fairly involved; below is my version:

Spicy Basil Chicken
adapted from Cook's Illustrated

  • 2 C fresh basil leaves (tightly packed), divided
  • 3 peeled garlic cloves, cut in half
  • 6 red thai chiles, stemmed and cut in half (if you want to make the dish less spicy - and it is pretty hot - seed them, too)
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce, divided
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken (either breasts or thighs), cut into medium pieces
  • 3 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced (between 3/4 & 1 C total)
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
In a food processor, process half the basil, plus the garlic and chiles until finely chopped, but not a paste (10 or so pulses). Mix together just a Tbsp of the basil mixture, half the fish sauce, and the soy sauce and vinegar; set aside.

Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat and add the basil mixture from the food processor (you don't need to clean it out, or even scrape it very thoroughly). Add the shallots, too. Sprinkle with the sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are starting to brown (about 10 minutes).

Process the chicken and the remaining fish sauce (1 Tbsp) in the processor until the meat is in small pieces, but not a paste (about 8 pulses). Once the shallots are browned a bit, add the chicken and cook until most of the pink is gone, breaking up the pieces with a spatula (3-4 minutes). Add the basil, fish sauce, etc. mixture to the pan and cook until the chicken is no longer pink, stirring as needed (1-2 minutes). Stir in the remaining basil and cook until the basil is just wilted (about 1 minute).
serves about 3 (just add a bit more chicken if you have a 4th person)

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