Spicy Chicken and Basil Fried Rice
Kao Pad Gkai Pad Gkaprow (or Khao Pad Kai Pad Kaprao)*
A Recipe of Kasma Loha-unchit
Recipe Copyright © 1997 Kasma Loha-unchit.
There are an unlimited number of variations on fried rice. Here's one recipe to get you started.
- 1/2 lb. boneless chicken, cut into small bite-size pieces
- 6 cloves garlic, chopped
- 3-4 shallots, thinly sliced (or substitute with a small onion)
- 2-3 cups young Asian broccoli
- 2 jalapeno, serrano or fresno hot chilli peppers
- 4 cups cold cooked leftover rice
- 3-4 Tbs. peanut oil
- 2 tsp. black soy sauce – the semi-sweet kind (or substitute with regular soy plus sugar)
- 2 Tbs. fish sauce (nahm bplah), or to desired saltiness
- 1+ cups basil leaves and flowers
- Liberal sprinkling of powdered white pepper
- 1 lime, cut into four wedges
Prepare the ingredients where instructed above. For the Asian broccoli, cut the stem ends at a very slanted angle into thin strips about 1 1/2 inches long and the leafy portion in segments about the same length. Keep the stemy pieces separate from the leafy pieces. Slice the chilli peppers into half circles or short slivers; do not remove the seeds if you wish a spicier fried rice (skip if you don't want your fried rice to be spicy).
Crumble and break up the cold leftover rice so that the grains are no longer stuck together in big chunks. (If you do not have leftover rice, cook rice earlier in the day and cool completely before frying. Freshly cooked rice makes mushy fried rice if used when it is still warm.) Set aside.
Heat a wok over high heat until hot. Swirl in the oil to coat its surface and wait a few seconds for the oil to heat. Add the chopped garlic, followed a few seconds later with the chicken. Stir-fry half a minute, or until the chicken begins to lose its raw pink color. Toss in the sliced shallots and chillies. Stir and follow 15 seconds later with the broccoli stems. Stir-fry another 20 seconds before adding the leaves. Toss until leaves are partially wilted, then add the rice and toss well with all the ingredients in the wok.
Continue to stir-fry until the rice is well coated with the oil and has softened and begun to brown. Sprinkle evenly with some black soy sauce, enough to lightly color the grains. Stir some more, then sprinkle with fish sauce to the desired saltiness. Stir-fry until the broccoli is cooked to your liking, preferably still crisp and a vibrant green color. Toss in the basil and stir quickly for a few seconds to wilt and mix in with the rice. Sprinkle with white pepper. Stir well and transfer to serving plate(s).
Serve with a wedge of fresh lime for each serving. Squeeze the juice over the rice, as desired, before eating. Serves 2-3 as a one-dish meal.
Notes and Pointers
There is no such thing as a single recipe for fried rice. In fact, an entire volume can be written about the many types of fried rice just in Thailand, and I have actually seen such a cookbook (written in the Thai language) that contains only recipes for fried rice! Fried Rice in Thailand depends on the rice shop or restaurant where you ate it at and what kind they made for you - as one can order many types of fried rice from the same place by specifying what kind you would like at a particular moment, such as chicken fried rice, vegetarian fried rice, basil fried rice, seafood fried rice, etc, each with varying ingredients that make it unique tasting from the others. (See The Spirit of Thai Cooking for more about recipes and Thai Food.)
Use this recipe as a starting point for you to experiment. The important thing though is to become familiar with all the Thai ingredients and sauces so that you can use them to duplicate the flavors you remember tasting in Thailand. Branch out from here by using pork or seafood instead of chicken, and substitute other kinds of firm, crisp vegetable you prefer. Add tomato wedges if you like.
Remember that Thai cooking is an art and not a science, and just as Thai people are easy going in their mannerisms, so are they in their cooking. They do not stick to recipes, they like variety, and most important of all, what they make depends on what looks fresh at the market and what they have on hand. Most of the best fried rice are made from leftover rice and ingredients from the day before thrown together with seasonings in the wok.
You might enjoy learning how to Cook Thai food from Kasma in a Thai cooking class.
*Because the Thai language has its own script, there are different ways of transliterating Thai into English. The more phonetic version is Kao Pad Gkai Pad Gkaprow; the more usual spelling is Khao Pad Kai Pad Kaprao. See A Note on Thai Pronunciation and Spelling.