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Spicy Chicken and Basil Stir-Fry

Spicy Chicken and Basil Stir-Fry
Aromatic basil, sometimes called Italian basil, is fundamental to Mediterranean cooking. But on the other side of the world, in Thailand, another basil variety is equally essential. For a more authentic version of this dish, seek out Thai basil, which has smaller, narrower leaves than the common Italian variety, a reddish purple cast and a more pronounced anise flavor. Look for it in Southeast Asian stores or at farmers' markets, or plant seeds outdoors in pots or beds for easy harvests.

Ingredients:

  • 6 Tbs. chicken stock
  • 2 Tbs. Asian fish sauce
  • 2 tsp. firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 2 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch
      strips
  • 1 or 2 Thai or jalapeño chilies, cut into very thin
      rounds
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut
      into thin strips
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves,
      preferably Thai basil
  • 3 green onions, cut into 3-inch pieces
  • Cooked jasmine rice for serving

Directions:

In a bowl, whisk together the stock, fish sauce and brown sugar. Add the cornstarch and whisk until the cornstarch and sugar are dissolved. Set aside.

In a large wok or fry pan over high heat, warm the oil. Add the bell pepper and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add chilies to taste and the garlic and stir-fry until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Add the chicken and stir-fry until no longer pink, about 2 1/2 minutes. Stir in the basil and green onions and stir-fry until the onions are barely wilted, about 1 minute.

Whisk the sauce mixture and pour into the pan. Cook just until the liquid comes to a boil. Spoon the rice onto individual plates and top with the stir-fry and sauce. Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Chicken, by Rick Rodgers (Simon & Schuster, 2001).