Gai Pad Bai Grapow (Chicken Stir-Fried with Holy Basil)

2 tbl chopped garlic
2 tbl chopped shallots
2 tbl chopped mixed red and green jalapeno peppers (or other medium-heat chillis)
1 tsp green peppercorns whole
1/4 cup fish sauce
2 tbl palm sugar (less to taste)
1 cup coarsely-chopped basil leaves
Freshly-ground black pepper if preferred
1 med Spanish onion cut into rings, quartered and separated (optional) (or sliced green onions or a combination)
450-500g chicken breast or thigh, cut into small pieces, chopped or ground / minced

Method :
The garlic, shallots, peppers and peppercorns are ground together in a mortar and pestle or a food processor. In a hot wok, with a little cooking oil, briefly stir-fry this paste to bring out the flavor and aroma. Add the remaining ingredients and continue to stir until the chicken is cooked through.

Serve over Thai jasmine rice, or over a fried egg or egg crepe, placed on the rice. For dinner it goes well with the hot and sour tom yum soups, as well as curries and other Thai food.

Add the usual Thai table condiments as well as ground chilis and sugar. You might add ground black pepper also.

Variants: It can be made with chopped pork, or even a chopped beef base, though of course the flavors are quite different. You can also experiment with replacing the meat with hard tofu marinated in a mixture of sweet soy, fish sauce and ground ginger, soy, or a vegetable mix of your choice (we like to mix broccoli and cauliflower florets with julienned carrots and wing beans), to make a vegetarian pad bai-gaprao.

Comments: This is a quick and easy dish to make. Thai basil, "holy basil" has a "hot peppery" taste, but the standard sweet basil is a reasonable substitute if you add a little freshly ground black pepper to it.

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Ingredients :
450-500g boneless chicken thighs coarsely chopped, or cut into small bite-size pieces
4 x garlic cloves - (to 6) finely chopped
2 x shallots - (to 3) thinly sliced (or substitute with 1/2 cup sliced red onion)
2 tbl peanut oil - (to 3 tbspns) for stir-frying
2 tsp black soy sauce (the semi-sweet kind)
1 1/2 tbl fish sauce (nam bplah) or to taste
1 cup fresh Thai holy basil (bai gka-prow) (or substitute with 1/4 cup dried holy basil/ soaked to soften plus 1/2 to 1 cup fresh Thai sweet basil (bai horapa))
2 sm kaffir lime leaves (bai ma-gkrood) very finely slivered, (optional)
2 x fresh jalapeno or fresno peppers - (to 3) cut large slivers (or 5 to 10 Thai chillies (prik kee noo), chopped, pounded with a mortar and pestle)
1 dash freshly-ground white pepper

Method :
Prepare the ingredients as indicated. Leave the fresh basil leaves whole; the flowers may also be used. The dried holy basil will soften when soaked in tap water for 10 to 15 minutes. Pull off and discard the hard stems. Drain.

Heat a wok until the surface is smoking hot. Swirl in the oil to coat the wok surface. Wait a few seconds for the oil to heat, then stir in the garlic, followed a few seconds later with shallots. Stir another few seconds before adding the chicken. Stir-fry a minute or two, or until most of the chicken has started to change color on the outside and is no longer pink. Toss in the chillies, slivered kaffir lime leaves and reconstituted dried holy basil (if using). Sprinkle black soy sauce over the mixture and stir-fry another 15 to 20 seconds. Then add fresh basil leaves and fish sauce to taste. Stir and mix well. Stir-fry another half a minute, or until the basil is wilted and the chicken is cooked through. Sprinkle with white pepper. Stir and transfer to a serving dish, or spoon directly over individual plates of plain steamed rice.

Notes and Pointers:
This is a good and easy stir-fried dish and one of the favorites among Thai people. It is served over rice as a one-dish meal - for breakfast or for lunch, often topped with a crispy fried egg. Of course, it also appears frequently as one of the courses in a shared family-style meal.
If you are not able to find fresh holy basil, this recipe can be substituted with any fresh basil. I have also tried it with a mixture of fresh Thai sweet basil (bai horapa) and fresh mint leaves with good results.
The smaller the chicken is cut, the greater the surface area to coat with the flavors of the aromatic herbs and sauces, and the more flavorful the stir-fry will be. Some of my students have reported good results using ground turkey. In Thailand, this dish is often made with chopped pork, or bird meat, especially in fast-food, curry-rice shops (rahn kao gkaeng), where an enormous variety of dishes are prepared ahead of time and served over steaming white rice to order. When I travel in the rural areas, I often stop at such rice shops in small towns for lunch. Some of the best pad gka-prow can be had at these inconspicuous, no-frills, open-air places. They are made particularly spicy to help preserve the meat, as the dishes are prepared early in the morning and served throughout the day until they are sold out.