Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Recipe: Kra Pow Chicken

Thai cooking is like a piece of music from any of the great composer. There's a balance of the astringent shriek of flutes or piccolos and the deep voice of a cello, as well as the different textural quality of brass instruments vs. string instruments vs. woodwind instruments. In short, it's a symphony in your mouth with the principle instruments being sweet, sour, salty and spicy.

My love for thai food is so great, it's where I went on my honeymoon. My husband & I ate our way through the country; from Koh Samui to Chaing Mai and Chiang Rai to Bangkok we ate at markets, street food vendors, and fine restaurants. Without a doubt, it was the market stalls that were our favorite. And my favorite dish, which is also apparently a favorite of the Thais and widely available, is kra pow.

Here's my recipe, adapted from a cookbook I got in Thailand: A Passion for Thai Cooking, for Kra Pow Chicken using the cayenne peppers and thai basil from my garden. Note, that I planted these in vast quantities explicitly to make this dish!

1 lb ground chicken (or pork)
12 cloves of garlic, minced (trust me. lots of garlic is key)
2-4 cayenne peppers (2 = "American hot", 4= approaching "Thai hot")
.25-1 c chicken stock (depends how saucy you like stir-fries)
1.5 c thai basil leaves

6 Tbsp. oyster sauce
4 Tbsp. fish sauce (no substitutions available for this. It smells weird, but it's a key "deep note" in this symphony)
1/4 Tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp soy sauce

  1. In a bowl, mix the last 4 ingredients. This is the sauce.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add garlic & chilies and cook until garlic is golden.
  3. Add meat & cook until brown.
  4. Add the sauce to the meat, then add chicken stock. Heat through, taste & adjust seasoning if desired.
  5. Take off heat, add basil. Stir to combine & serve with jasmine rice.

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