Tasty Tuesday – Basil Pork
Mmmmm… I hear the name basil ( insert name of meat here ) and I become a happy girl. So does Brook, but he’s a boy, of course.
Here’s a photo of our table at dinner a few nights ago. This is also what the Mr. eats for lunch just about every day. A plate full of Basil Pork. Just about any restaurant or street chef will be able to make this for you, as it is one of the most popular Thai meals. It really is quite tasty, and is traditionally prepared in a manner so spicy, you just may feel like your throat is going to melt from exposure. We, however, prefer it to be a step below that. After all, you don’t want to lose that part of your body, but it isn’t really Thai if it isn’t spicy, ya know?
The nice thing about this dish is that it is not only tasty and cheap, but is super easy to make at home as well! This is one meal I made frequently back in the States because, as I mentioned before, this happens to be a favorite for Brook. (We of course would rather let the Thai make it, buy it from them, and eat it out in the market now that we live in Thailand, though. It’s actually cheaper to do it that way here.) All you need is a handful of ingredients, a good frying pan or wok, and a plate of rice to serve it with. You can make it with whatever meat you choose – chicken, pork, beef, seafood – though we seem to prefer the lighter flavors of chicken and pork the best. Most Thais would say the same.
Starting with a wee bit of oil in a hot pan, toss in some chopped up garlic and minced chilies, then move it around until the garlic begins to brown. Next, add your meat (finely chopped, bite-sized pieces, or our preference is ground), stirring until almost cooked through. At this point, some restaurants will also add a good handful of raw green beans, sliced into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces. Drizzle in a bit of fish sauce, sprinkle a pinch of sugar, and make that food dance around the pan. Yes, you are stir-frying! The last step is the fun one, or so I seem to think, as you add the seemingly too large quantity of Thai basil to the pan. Trust me, it’s not too much, as the leaves will shrink significantly in size once they warm up, and it’s sort of neat to watch. Once the basil is wilted and the meat is cooked through, serve it up on a plate of rice with some sliced cucumbers on the side. A lot of places will also plate this meal with a crispy-fried egg on top and a squirt of SriRacha or Heinz Thai chili sauce (my favorite) on the side.
Easy and delicious. If you can’t find Thai or Holy Basil, you may use whatever fresh basil your local supermarket carries. It will taste slightly different, as the Thai varieties have a slight, yet distinctive, licorice flavor to them when cooked that the others will not have. I have made it myself with each type, and they are all very good. The same goes for the fish sauce – if you really can’t find it, try it with soy sauce instead, the lighter, the better. And, if you’re not too keen on super spicy food, adjust the amount of chilies, or add another type you are already familiar with. Have fun with it, and adjust it to your liking – after all, that’s how all of the cooks and street vendors do it here!
Here’s a recipe online with some step-by-step photos, as well as some quantities to help guide you through the cooking process. Really, this is a quick and easy, very authentic Thai meal and I would love for you to try it out at home!