I really should make stir-fry more often. It has three main elements that I often look for when cooking for myself. It’s fast; check. It’s healthy; check. It’s delicious; check. Lately, weekday dinners have consisted of reheating leftovers from the weekend, or meals I’ve stashed in the freezer ages ago and “rediscovered”, as I’m often too tired to slave away in the kitchen after coming home from work. But my best friend from home was visiting me earlier in the week, and there was no way I was going to feed her my pitiful leftovers. Plus she was getting a little eating-out overkill, so stir-fry it was.
This stir-fry is reminiscent of those ones you might find in a Thai restaurant: meat and vegetables stir-fried in a savoury sauce and Thai basil. I absolutely love the licorice flavour that basil gives off—it’s so robust and delicate at the same time. The sauce is also delicious, the secret—in my opinion—lying in the rice vinegar, which gives it a nice acidic twist to cut through the saltiness of the sauce and to bring out the natural sweetness of the vegetables.
If you can’t find Thai basil, any other basil variety will work just as well!
Chicken and Basil Stir-Fry
Adapted from Everday Food
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into ¼-inch-thick strips
1 tbsp cornstarch
Splash of Chinese cooking wine
Sprinkle of salt and black pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small onion, halved and cut into ¼-inch-thick wedges (or replace with 3 stalks green onions, cut into 1 ½-inch pieces)
1 red pepper (or colour of your preference), remove ribs and seeds and cut into ¼-inch strips
8 baby bok choy, cut into halves (or if larger, cut into quarters)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce1 tsp sugar
¾ cup fresh Thai basil, larger leaves torn in half
Pat chicken pieces dry with paper towels. In a small bowl, toss chicken with cornstarch, cooking wine, and season with salt and pepper.
In a large nonstick skillet or wok, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high. Cook the chicken until browned, but not completely cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add onion, pepper and bok choy (if using green onions, add a little later with garlic instead); cook over medium-high heat; tossing often, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add ¼ cup water, vinegar, soy sauce and oyster sauce to the pan; cook, tossing, until chicken is cooked through, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in basil leaves. Serve immediately with steamed white or brown rice, if desired.