25 September 2020

Thai basil chicken

We make a lot of Asian-flavored stir-fried dishes because they are quick to cook and so tasty. Our closest Asian grocery stores are in Blois and Tours. That's a problem, because in the spring we were en confinement and not enthusiastic going into urban environments. We are running out of sauces and certain ingredients we like, may of which are not available in our local supermarkets and open-air markets. Unless we are again put on lockdown, we'll soon be ready to drive up to Blois (25 miles north) and do some shopping. The Asian grocery stores are very small, with narrow aisles, and sometimes pretty crowded. Blois has a very cosmopolitan population, including many immigrants from Asia and Africa.

Thai Basil Chicken

2 Tbsp. oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 bell pepper (red, green, or yellow), trimmed and sliced
10 oz. ground chicken
6 bird’s eye chilies, or 1-2 fresh jalapeños, cut into slivers
1 carrot, cut into slivers or coarsely grated
4 or 5 tsp. fish sauce
1 tsp. sugar (or more to taste)
½ tsp. sweet soy sauce
1 big bunch Thai basil leaves, lower stems removed
a grind or two of black or white pepper, to taste

Heat up the oil in a wok and stir fry the garlic, shallots, and bell pepper slices until aromatic. Remove the vegetables from the pan and set aside. Then put the ground chicken into the hot wok. Use a fork or spatula to quickly stir-fry and break the ground chicken meat into small lumps.

When the chicken is pretty much cooked, add the chilies, fish sauce, sugar, and sweet soy sauce to the wok. Stir to combine well. Put the stir-fried vegetables back into the pan. Add in the basil leaves and do a few quick stirs until the basil leaves are wilted and fragrant. Add the pepper and do a final stir. Serve immediately over steamed rice.

P.S. Don't be afraid to add other vegetables to dishes like these. I put in some blanched Swiss chard ribs that I had in the freezer. Some sliced celery stalks would add good flavor.

P.P.S. The mattress arrived at noon yesterday. It was rolled up, vacuum-packed, and fit in a box measuring 17"x17"x46". That's 43x43x117 in centimeters. The package weighed 41 kilos — 90 lbs. — but we managed to carry it up two flights of stairs, open the box, cut away the plastic wrapper, and watch and listen as the mattress self-inflated. This mattress is not latex or foam rubber — it has "pocket springs" (ressorts ensachés) inside (I think we call that an "innerspring" mattress). I don't understand how such a mattress can be rolled up the way it was, but it obviously worked. We have it on the floor up in the loft and are letting it continue to self-inflate (or re-expand) for the recommended 24 to 36 hours. We've measured it and it seems to be about 197 cm wide, which means it should fit on our 200 cm-wide platform bed just fine.


  1. Good news, then, on the mattress! I was curious about how you'd be getting it up those stairs to the loft space--interesting that it was rolled up. Your Thai Basil Chicken looks tasty.

  2. The Thai basil chicken looks great. I've copied the recipe. Good luck with the mattress fitting.

  3. Can't you order Asian sauces through Amazon?

    1. Probably. I'll have to look. One of the main things I want to get at one of the Asian markets is a few pounds of frozen shrimp. I can't order than from Amazon. Also, I like to browse in the Asian markets because each timeI find sauces and ingredients that look good and that I have never seen before.

  4. Asian grocery stores are an adventure in themselves!

  5. From what I can tell, shipping mattresses that way, all rolled up, is the new normal. I guess they figured out whatever was needed in terms of machinery to make that happen. It makes sense in a way, given that so many are now sold on line rather than in stores where they can be delivered already "mattresed".

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