Monday, April 14, 2014

Thai stir fried minced beef with holy basil and chilli

If you follow the liturgical calendar, you'll know this week is Holy Week - the last week of Lent. Do you attend a more traditional church? I don't but I attended Anglican church schools for 8 years of my life and so some consciousness of the liturgical calendar has always been present in my life.

Anyway, this being Holy week, I thought it would be appropriate to post a recipe calling for heaps of holy basil :)

I've been making this dish in various iterations for years now. I used to love ordering it in a Thai restaurant called Ying Thai in Melbourne but after I learned to make it, I stopped ordering it. I've never cooked this from a proper recipe - the one below is a mish mash of various recipes online.

This is one of the most flexible stir fries; I've made it with garlic, without garlic, with oyster sauce and without. Sometimes lime makes an appearance, more often, it does not. I've also made it for a non-chilli eating crowd by subbing in bell peppers for the chilli. It works, sort of, although obviously the chilli version is better. This dish works with minced beef but also with minced pork or chicken as well if you are cooking for someone who does not eat red meat. For vegetarians, apparently it works with tofu but I'll caveat that by saying that I've never tried it with tofu.

The essentials are holy basil, chilli, fish sauce and minced meat of some kind and a fried egg on top.

Stir fried minced beef with holy basil and chilli

200 gm minced beef
Plenty of basil - about 1 handful
1-2 large chillis sliced (adjust according to your spice tolerance)
1 tablespoon of fish sauce
1/2 tablespoon of oyster sauce
a pinch of sugar
lime wedges
1-2 eggs
Oil for stir frying
Cooked rice

Heat the oil in the pan and when hot, stir fry the garlic and the chillis until fragrant.  Add the beef and then the oyster sauce.

Cook the beef for about 2-3 minutes, then add the fish sauce and the sugar. Finally add the basil and some water (if needed) and allow the beef to cook through.

Remove from heat.

In the same pan, heat a little more oil and fry the eggs. The best fried egg for this recipe is the kind with a runny yolk but brown and crisp edges and underside.

The way to achieve this is to heat the oil until it shimmers, add the egg(s) then allow to cook only for about 2-3 minutes then turn off the heat. Allow the egg to cook a little longer in the hot pan to your desired done-ness.

Serve the beef on hot cooked rice with a squeeze of lime (if using), then top with the egg.

Note on using the same pan for the egg: I don't mind doing my dish this way because it saves the washing up and the egg picks up all the leftover beef juices and bits of chilli or basil which makes it more tasty. To my mind, since the egg and the stir fry are going to end up sharing the same bowl anyway, sharing the same pan isn't a problem. But, if you are finicky about it, by all means, use a different skillet for frying the egg.