This recipe for a 15 minute Thai basil stir fry is one I’ve taught in my classes for a few years and it never fails to get people excited.
In fact, I love this recipe so much I’ve made a video of me making it, showing you all the tips and tricks so you can cook along with me at home.
This recipe is, I hope, different from most of the stir fry recipes you may have tried before. I hesitated to post a stir fry recipe as I do feel that stir fries have fallen into a bit of a ‘meh’ hole for most of us. Not least because of the ready chopped stir fry kits with gloppy sauce that are sold in most supermarkets.
This recipe uses minced or ground meat which gives a gorgeous texture. Importantly it is super fast – I can get this from shopping bag to table in less than 20 minutes. Secondly it is child friendly. Leftovers are pretty yummy for lunch the next day with salad. Finally, and most importantly, it is just blummin delicious. I can’t think of a recipe that better shows you how to flavour balance your food and get maximum deliciousness in with just a few simple tricks. In fact, I’ll stick my neck out and say that the flavour tricks you learn in this recipe will transfer to every meal you make from now on.
This dish can be served over rice (see my foolproof brown rice recipe here) or greens. I always keep cooked and frozen brown rice in the freezer so that I can get dinner on the table super fast. My children like it stirred through boiled soba noodles. Or for a lighter version, you can wrap it in lettuce leaves, either as a main or starter. Some of my brown rice and coconut pudding would be yummy for dessert after this.
My game changing cooking technique for minced or ground meat
I tend to use minced pork (ground pork in the US) in this dish. You can use minced turkey thigh, beef or chicken thigh if you prefer. Don’t use minced chicken or turkey breast here as it is too dry. The most important thing is that you use my special technique (at the 1 minute mark in the video) to sear your meat to get maximum flavour. I hope this will change the way you cook minced or ground meat from now on in all your cooking.
One family. One meal – how to tailor this to suit all eaters
Lets get out of the habit of cooking more than one dinner a night. Just allow people to finish off the meal with any controversial bits at the table, rather than adding them to the pan as you cook. If the green basil will throw people, add it at the table. I always add chilli at the table too, that way my children can have theirs without, and I can have mine with lots. And feel free to add different veg – add broccoli, green beans or asparagus alongside the peppers if you fancy.
Store leftovers in a tightly sealed container and use them within 3 days. I usually have leftovers tossed through salad or rice for lunch with an extra squeeze of lime to brighten up the flavours. Top reheated leftovers with a crispy fried egg and you’ll be in heaven.
Cost per portion: £1.20 (Tesco prices). Active prep time: 10-15 minutes. Cooking time: 10-20 minutes
15 minute Thai basil stir fry ingredients:
400g (three quarters of a pound) minced pork or minced chicken or turkey (thigh) or the same weight of 85% lean beef or pork mince (US friends – you’ll need to ask for ‘ground’ meat).
1 tablespoons coconut oil, or use rapeseed oil in the UK, canola oil in the US
1 red onion, thinly sliced into half moons
2 red, yellow or orange peppers, cut into thin strips
2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1-2 Thai chillies, finely chopped, seeds and all (adjust the quantity to taste)
1 tablespoon soy sauce or Tamari (adjust the quantity to taste)
1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce (adjust the quantity to taste)
Juice and zest of 2 limes (adjust the quantity to taste)
1 teaspoons brown sugar or coconut sugar (adjust the quantity to taste)
75-100g (3oz) fresh basil (Thai or regular), thinly sliced stalks and more thickly sliced leaves
To serve: lettuce, cooked brown rice, steamed greens or noodles
- If you are a slower chopper, chop all your ingredients and have them close to hand (see the videos for a refresher on how to chop the peppers and onions). If you are a fast chopper, you can chop this while the meat cooks (at stage 3) to save time.
- Take the minced meat and pop it onto a piece of baking parchment or foil. Fold the foil so that one half of the foil is on the worktop and one half is on top of the meat. Then use the foil to flatten the meat into a pancake or big burger shape. Doing this increases the surface area of your meat meaning you have lots of more space to get brown, crusty and flavour packed. It also means you won’t be stood over your pan breaking a big lump of meat up (which I know from teaching in my classes is what 95% of people have done until now!) You can watch me do this at the 1 minute mark in the video.
- In wok or large non-stick frying pan (I use my Scanpan big lidded chef pan), heat the oil over high heat until just smoking. Deftly flip the pancake of meat into your pan. If it bunches up, use the back of a spatula to quickly push it as flat as you can. Then leave it on a high heat for 5 minutes without moving the meat. This will enable it to get a lovely golden crust, which will add a ton of flavour. Don’t worry it won’t burn. Use your sense of smell to see if it is burning. If you try and keep moving it, it will never get chance to develop that delicious golden crust. Be brave. Colour = flavour and you need to leave it be for that colour to develop. Don’t feel that by continually stirring meat as it cooks you will stop it from sticking. Sticking isn’t that bad – I’d rather have meat that sticks but then goes golden brown than grey meat that doesn’t stick. The liquid we add later will pull up any bits that stick anyway.
- Use the time while the chicken cooks to chop your peppers and onions (see how at the 3 minute 25 second mark of the video). Set them aside.
- After 5 minutes, flip the meat and start to break it up with the side of a sturdy spoon or spatula. You want the resulting chunks to be about the size of a thumbnail.
- Add the onion and peppers to the pan and stir-fry for 2 minutes on a high heat. Use this time to peel and slice your garlic, chop your chillies and slice your basil.
- Add the garlic to the pan and cook for another 30 seconds, then add the chillies (unless you’re going to add the chillies at the table to cater for various heat loving eaters). Stir-fry for 1 minute then take off the heat.
- Add the basil. Then add half the quantity of soy sauce/Tamari, fish sauce, lime juice and zest, then stir well so that the basil wilts and the sauce is incorporated.
- Taste for balance (I explain how this works in the video), adding the rest of the soy sauce/Tamari, fish sauce, lime juice, chilli, and a touch of brown sugar as needed. Serve immediately with wedges of lime and rice or greens. Or store and reheat as per the instructions above.
You can now buy the equipment I use in this recipe through my shop. I’ve spent years testing my favourite bits of equipment so rest-assured that whatever I recommend is the best tool for the job and will give you great results without cluttering your kitchen with unused tools. You can also buy my other bits of essential kitchen equipment through this post.
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