Long time, no food.

So the world has impeded my ability to update this blog, and it looks like it’s a sickness that has hit all our writers together.  But I have finally finished teaching, and am back to my 1 job (plus being a mom) and have decided to should post two of my favorite Thai dishes to try to spur others into posting as well!  Both of these involve chicken, though I bet you could substitute some sort of veggie crumble or tofu in the first one.  Second one you are on your own.  I have also made the 2nd without cilantro for one person in particular (who is genetically predisposed to tasting cilantro as soap), and they seemed to think it was good.   I hope some people try these, they seem more complicated than they actually are, and the first comes together really quickly because it involves very little chopping.

Thai-style Chicken with Basil (Gai Pad Krapow)

Note: this is a somewhat mild recipe with the number of chiles used, for a more mild version remove the seeds and ribs from the chiles. If fresh Thai chiles are unavailable, substitute 2 serranos or 1 medium jalapeno (we use 2 jalapenos often) In Thailand, crushed red pepper and sugar are passed at the table, along with extra fish sauce and white vinegar, so the dish can be adjusted to suit individual taste. Serve with steam rice (jasmine is best). It also can smell bad when cooking, but it’s fantastic tasting, trust me.

2 cups fresh basil leaves (Thai or Italian basil)
3 medium garlic cloves, peeled
6 green or red Thais chiles, stemmed (see note)
2 tbsp fish sauce, plus extra for serving (see note)
1 tbsp oyster sauce (Chinese is fine)
1 tsp white vinegar, plus extra for serving (see note)
1 tbsp sugar, plus extra for serving (see note)
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 medium shallots, peeled and thinly sliced (about ¾ cup) (I have substituted regular yellow onion in here as well)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Red pepper flakes, for serving (see note)

1. Process 1 cup basil leaves, garlic, and chiles in food processor until finely chopped, 6 to 10 one-second pulses, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula once during processing. Transfer 1 tbsp basil mixture to small bowl and stir in 1 tbsp fish sauce, oyster sauce, vinegar, and sugar; set aside. Transfer remaining basil mixture to 12-inch heavy-bottomed nonstick skillet. Do not wash food processor bowl.
2. Pulse chicken and 1 tbsp fish sauce in food processor until meat is finely chopped into approximate ¼-inch pieces, 6-8 one-second pulses. Transfer to medium bowl and refrigerate for 15 min.
3. Stir shallots and oil into basil mixture in skillet. Heat over medium-low heat (mixture should start to sizzle after about 1 ½ min; if it doesn’t, adjust heat accordingly), stirring constantly; until garlic and shallots are golden brown, 5-8 min.
4. Add chicken to skillet, increase heat to medium, and cook, stirring and breaking up chicken with potato masher or rubber spatula, until only traces of pink remain, 2-4 min. Add reserved basil-fish sauce mixture and continue to cook, stirring constantly until chicken is no longer pink, about 1 min. Stir in remaining cup of basil leaves and cook, stirring constantly, until basil is wilted, 30-60 seconds. Serve immediately, passing extra fish sauce, sugar, red pepper flakes, and vinegar separately.

Thai Grilled Chicken with Spicy Sweet and Sour dipping sauce (Gai Ying)

Note: this can also be done on a broiler, and the dipping sauce makes an excellent salad dressing as well.

Chicken and Brine
½ cup of sugar
½ cup of table salt
2 qt cold water
4 split bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
Dipping Sauce
1/3 cup sugar
¼ cup distilled white vinegar
¼ cup lime juice
2 tbsp fish sauce
3 small garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (1 ½ tsp)
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
¼ cup lime juice
12 medium garlic cloves minced or pressed through garlic press (about ¼ cup)
2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
2 tbsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp ground coriander
2 tbsp vegetable oil, plus more for cooking grate


1. Brine chicken: Dissolve sugar and salt in 2 quarts of cold water in large container or bowl; submerge chicken in bring for at least 30 min but no longer than 1 hour. Rinse chicken and pat dry with paper towels.
2. Make dipping sauce: Whisk ingredients together in a small bowl until sugar dissolves. Let stand for 1 hour at room temperature to allow flavors to meld
3. Make and apply rub: Combine all rub ingredients in a small bowl. Slide fingers under chicken skin to loosen skin, taking care not to detach skin. Rub about 2 tbsp of rub mixture under skin of each breast. Thoroughly rub even layer of the mixture onto all exterior surfaces, including the bottom and sides. Place chicken in medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate while preparing the grill.
4. Prep grill:
a. Charcoal grill: light large chimney starter filled with charcoal (6 qts, about 100 briquettes) and burn until coals are fully ignited and partially covered with fine gray ash, about 15-20 min. Build modified 2 level grill, by arranging coals in even layer over half of the grill, leaving the other half empty. Position the cooking grate over the coals, and heat grate until hot, about 5 min.
b. Gas grill: turn all burners to high and heat grill with lid down until very hot, about 15 min. Leave primary burner on high and turn other burner(s) to low.
5. Scrape grate clean with grill brush and lightly dip wad of paper towels in vegetable oil; hold wad with tongs, wipe cooking grate. Place chicken, skin side down, on hotter side of grill; cook until browned, about 3 min. Flip chicken breasts and cook until browned on second side, about 3 min longer. Move chicken, skin side up, to cooler side of the grill and cover with a disposable pan, continue to cook until thickest part of the breasts (not touching the bone) registers 160 deg, about 10-15 min. Let rest for 10 min. Serve with dipping sauce.


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