The Hmong farmers have returned to our weekly farmer’s market with a wealth of Asian produce. Last Saturday, they had gorgeous Thai basil and I swooped down upon a couple of bunches. Basil discolors quickly, its shelf life under refrigeration is just a few days. I wasn’t about to let it go to waste and thought of Thai chicken and basil, a simple stir-fry.
The thing is, I didn’t want to make the dish with all chicken so I worked in some tofu. I substituted 10 ounces (300 grams) of extra-firm tofu for 8 ounces (240 grams) of the chicken in the original recipe, which called for a pound. That’s one of several strategy for using tofu for low-meat dishes.
The keys to this dish include (1) washing and drying the basil leaves (keep them whole) and (2) seasoning and panfrying the tofu.
To seal in the moisture in the chicken, I lightly coat it with cornstarch and soy sauce; it’s typically added to the wok as is, only to be embellished by flavors during the cooking process. Dark soy sauce adds color but the black soy sauce is semi sweet. With so little used, I suppose you could use kecap manis, if you want.
You can make this dish with mint or Italian basil but for the real deal, Thai basil’s warm spice note is magnificent. If flowers are present on the sprigs, use them!