Way back in December my mother gave Andrés and me gift certificates for a Thai cooking class. I’m still not sure how she decided on this particular cooking class, but she did a good job because both Andrés and I love authentic Thai food. And, although it took several months to schedule the class, when we finally made it to the class it was quite a success. All eight and a half hours of it.
We made all types of dishes: Pad Thai, chicken skewers, peanut sauce, fried rice, curries, and an absolutely delightful mango sticky rice. Andrés’s favorite dish of the day was the basil chicken (gai pad gra prow) and this may only be partly because he was behind the stove for it. And that he was allowed to add as many chilies as he wanted. This is a simple dish chock full of veggies and finished with the unique, delicious Thai basil leaves.
For me, the most valuable part of this cooking class was not the individual recipes, but the confidence it gave me to try more Thai recipes, although the ingredients may be a little foreign. Being able to see, feel, taste and smell these ingredients in their raw forms will help me find them in supermarkets and explore their virtues further. It also helps that the stems from the Thai basil plants could be transplanted and would continue to grow leaves. We brought those stems home and now have a mini garden of Thai basil plants, some of which are really flourishing. It won’t be long before we can make Gai Pad Gra Prow at home.
Gai Pad Gra Prow or Basil Chicken
Adapted from Phensri, of Fantastic Thai
1 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium garlic cloves, chopped
1 chicken breast, finely diced
~1 tablespoon soy sauce
~1/2 tablespoon oyster sauce
~1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tsp chili paste + diced fresh chili powder (to taste)
1/4 cup sliced onion
1/4 cup sliced carrot
1/4 cup sliced bell pepper
1/4 cup string beans
~20 Thai basil leaves
Over a medium high flame, heat the oil. Add the garlic and chicken, continuously stirring until chicken is more than half cooked.* Stir in soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, and chilies, all to taste. Add vegetables and cook, continuing to stir, for about 8 minutes, until chicken is fully cooked. Mix in basil leaves and immediately remove from heat. Serve over rice. This serves two people.