One of the great pleasures of gardening is being able to grow and use ingredients not often found at the supermarket. Case in point…Thai Basil. A few months ago I planted some straggly looking plants from the garden center into this whiskey barrel, along with some other herbs and annuals. Thanks to an abundance of rain and warm, humid days, my Thai basil is flourishing. Time to start cooking!
My husband’s absolute favorite Thai meal is Thai Beef with Basil. I will admit to not being a big fan of super spicy food, but when you combine the basil with the heat, something magic happens. It’s an absolutely brilliant combination and is so easy to make at home in a jiffy, starting with fresh ingredients like hot peppers and ginger:
Tossed with thinly sliced steak:
Stir fried with onions slivered garlic and the finishing touch: fresh basil. LOTS of it. Seriously, you almost can’t add enough basil to this dish:
And the perfect salad to round out the meal: my “Cool as a Cucumber Thai Salad”
This meal will both heat you up and cool you off all at the same time! Enjoy all the best that summer has to offer my friends. Ok, and one more photo of the basil. Just…because.
Thai Beef with Basil
3 TBS Asian fish sauce (aka Nam Pla or Nuoc Nam) (see Note>1)
1 TBS soy sauce
1 TBS brown sugar
1# beef round or sirloin steak (preferably thinly sliced) (see Note>2)
1 TBS plus 1 tsp vegetable or canola oil
1 large sweet onion (about 1#), sliced into 1/4-inch-thick slices
3 long red or green chilies (such as serrano or fingerhot), seeded and thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tsp minced, peeled fresh ginger
2 cups loosely packed fresh Thai or sweet basil leaves (large leaves torn into smaller pieces)
Cooked jasmine rice (or any other long grain rice)
Place meat in the freezer for 30-45 minutes. Then remove and slice against the grain into 1/8-inch-thick slices.
In a shallow dish or bowl, combine the fish sauce, soy sauce and brown sugar. Whisk to combine. Add meat; toss well to coat. Cover and marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes or up to an hour.
In a skillet or wok, heat 1 TBS of the oil over high heat until very hot. Add beef mixture along with marinate. Cook, stirring frequently, just until beef is no longer pink (about 1-2 minutes). Transfer beef and accumulated juices to a bowl and set aside.
Add remaining 1 tsp of oil to the wok. Add sliced onion and cook, stir-frying, until tender-crisp, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in chilies, garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Return beef to skillet and add basil. Stir until heated through and basil is just beginning to wilt. Serve over jasmine rice.
Note>1 – Fish sauce sounds exotic but it’s almost everywhere these days and is an essential ingredient in Asian cuisine. Technically you can store it at room temp, but I like to play it safe and store mine in the fridge where is seems to stay fresh for a very long time (as long as one year!)
Note>2 – Another advantage to this dish: you can use an inexpensive cut of meat, like the top round! As long as you slice it thinly against the grain, it will be every bit as tender. Look for meat that has already been sliced thin, sometimes labeled as “sandwich steak” It’s perfect for stir frying.