gai pad gra pow (chicken basil rice) a la japonaise

this is my first recipe for an asian dish (here i mean non-japanese/chinese dishes). it is called “gai pad gra pow (grapow for short),” which is a dish with stir-fried minced chicken with basil leaves, served with freshly cooked rice. i believe the dish is from thailand, as i always come across it in various thai restaurants.

my mother never cooked asian dishes at home, hence no asian recipes have been passed on to me. i always avoided making any of them so that I wouldn’t fail, and quite frankly, i had no idea how to make them.

but when i was grocery shopping the other day, i remembered that i had some leftover basil leaves in my fridge that i badly wanted to avoid wasting. as i had cooked an italian dish with the basil leaves a few days before, i decided to break the ice and try to make my first asian dish.

with my instinct to replicate the memory of its taste and with just one special ingredient, i made a miracle. the magical ingredient is called “nam pla,” which is thai fish sauce. you can buy it at any asian food store. i usually buy a small bottle (100ml or so), as i don’t use it so often obviously, and i like to use it fresh as much as possible.

here is my recipe of the grapow rice, with a hint of japanese essence.

gai pad gra pow

ingredients (for 2 servings):

3 table spoons of salad oil
15cm leek onion (chopped)
a glove of garlic (chopped)
a small chili pepper (chopped)
a small piece of ginger, same size as the garlic (chopped)
200g chicken mince
1 table spoon of japanese sake (or white wine)
20 basil leaves (leave 2 – 4 leaves as they are, and roughly chop the rest)
1 table spoon of soy sauce
1 table spoon of oyster sauce (optional, you can substitute it with soy sauce if you don’t have it)
1 table spoon of brown sugar
sprinkle of nampla sauce (about 1/2 to 1 tea spoonful, as your preference)
salt & pepper to taste

(on the side)
2 eggs, sunny side (try to make the egg york half cooked)
1 cup of rice (i like to use indian basemati rice with this dish), freshly boiled

direction:

1. first, put the oil in a frying pan (small size would do), and stir-fry the first 5 ingredients for a minute or so in low heat

2. add the chicken mince, put the heat to medium, and stir-fry further until the colour of the chicken changes from pink to golden

3. add the white sake/wine and quickly stir

4. add the chopped basil leaves and stir-fry quickly

5. lower the heat, and add the soy sauce and the oyster sauce from the rim of the pan, and mix it gently

6. sprinkle the sugar, and taste – if it is too salty, add a bit more sugar

7. sprinkle the nampla sauce, and taste – be careful, the sauce is quite “fishy,” so if you prefer making it mild, just stop there. if you like more exotic and strong taste of asia, add more by all means

8. at the end, you can add salt & pepper to adjust the taste

9. serve it with freshly cooked rice and a sunny side on top (the sweetness of the egg york suits the spicy/salty grapow extremely well!). put the fresh basil leaves on the side as well!

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