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Chinese Basil Chicken Recipe: A Comprehensive Guide for a Tasty Dish

Chinese basil chicken is a delicious and flavourful dish that is perfect for a weeknight dinner. This easy recipe can be made in just a few simple steps, making it a fast and easy option for busy nights. With the right ingredients and cooking techniques, you can create a dish that is sure to impress your family and friends.

A sizzling wok with chicken, garlic, and basil. Steam rises as the ingredients are stir-fried in a savory sauce

To make Chinese basil chicken, you will need a few key ingredients, including boneless chicken, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and of course, fresh basil. You can also substitute the chicken with seafood, such as shrimp or scallops, for a delicious twist on the classic recipe. When it comes to cooking equipment, a wok is the best option, but a large frying pan will work just as well.

To prepare the dish, start by marinating the chicken in a mixture of soy sauce, oyster sauce, and cornstarch. Then, stir-fry the chicken with garlic, ginger, and chilli flakes until it is cooked through. Finally, add the fresh basil and stir-fry for another minute or two until the basil is wilted. Serve the dish over steamed rice for a complete meal.

Key Takeaways

  • Chinese basil chicken is an easy and flavourful dish that can be made in just a few simple steps.
  • You can substitute the chicken with seafood, such as shrimp or scallops, for a delicious twist on the classic recipe.
  • To prepare the dish, marinate the chicken in a mixture of soy sauce, oyster sauce, and cornstarch, stir-fry with garlic and ginger, and add fresh basil just before serving.

Ingredients and Substitutions

A cutting board with fresh chicken, Chinese basil, garlic, and soy sauce next to bowls of sesame oil and cornstarch

When it comes to making Chinese basil chicken, there are a few key ingredients that you will definitely need. These include chicken, Thai basil, soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, garlic, onion, chilies, sugar, vegetable oil, and of course, basil.

Main Ingredients

Chicken is the star of the show in this recipe, and you can use either bone-in or boneless chicken pieces. You can also use other types of protein, such as beef, pork, duck, shrimps, or mixed seafood as a substitution. If you are a vegetarian, try with small diced tofu or egg tofu.

Thai basil is a must-have for this dish, as it provides a unique flavour that is difficult to replicate with any other herb. If you can't find Thai basil, you can use regular basil as a substitute, but the flavour will be different.

Sauce Components

The sauce for this dish is made up of a few different components, including soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, garlic, onion, chilies, and sugar. These ingredients come together to create a sweet, salty, and spicy sauce that perfectly complements the chicken and basil.

Optional Add-Ins

If you want to mix things up a bit, there are a few optional add-ins that you can include in your Chinese basil chicken. For example, you could add some vegetables such as bell peppers, broccoli, or carrots. You could also add some sliced mushrooms or bamboo shoots for extra flavour and texture.

If you're feeling adventurous, you could even try adding some seafood to your Chinese basil chicken. Shrimp or scallops would work particularly well, but you could also try using squid or mussels. Just be sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly, as seafood cooks much faster than chicken.

The key to making delicious Chinese basil chicken is to use fresh, high-quality ingredients and to balance the flavours of sweet, salty, and spicy. With a little bit of practice, you'll be able to create a dish that is sure to impress your friends and family.

Cooking Equipment

A wok sizzles as Chinese basil chicken cooks. Ingredients surround the pan: garlic, ginger, chicken, soy sauce, and fresh basil

When it comes to cooking Chinese basil chicken, there are a few essential pieces of equipment that you will need to ensure that your dish turns out perfectly. In this section, we'll take a look at the two most important items: the wok and alternative cooking tools.

Choosing the Right Wok

The wok is the most important tool in Chinese cooking, and it is essential for making Chinese basil chicken. The wok is a versatile, high-sided pan that is perfect for stir-frying, deep-frying, and steaming. When choosing a wok, there are a few things to consider:

  • Material: Woks can be made from a variety of materials, including stainless steel, cast iron, and carbon steel. Carbon steel is the most traditional material and is the best choice for Chinese cooking.
  • Size: Woks come in various sizes, but a 14-inch wok is the most versatile size for home cooking.
  • Shape: The shape of the wok is also important. A round-bottomed wok is traditional, but it can be difficult to use on a flat stove. A flat-bottomed wok is more practical for home cooking.

Alternative Cooking Tools

If you don't have a wok, don't worry. You can still make Chinese basil chicken using a skillet. While a skillet doesn't have the same shape as a wok, it can still be used to stir-fry ingredients. Here are a few tips for using a skillet:

  • Use a heavy-bottomed skillet: A heavy-bottomed skillet will distribute heat evenly, which is important for stir-frying.
  • Don't overcrowd the pan: When stir-frying, it's important not to overcrowd the pan. If you add too many ingredients at once, they will steam rather than stir-fry.
  • Use high heat: To stir-fry successfully, you need to use high heat. This will ensure that the ingredients cook quickly and don't become soggy.

If you're feeling adventurous, you can also try adding seafood to your Chinese basil chicken recipe. Shrimp or scallops would be a great addition to this dish. Simply stir-fry the seafood along with the chicken and other ingredients.

Preparation Techniques

Sizzling wok with diced chicken, garlic, and ginger. Fresh basil leaves and soy sauce on a nearby cutting board

Marinating Chicken

Before you start cooking, marinate your chicken breasts in a mixture of soy sauce, cornstarch, and egg. This will help to tenderize the chicken and add some flavour. You can also add some garlic and ginger to the marinade for extra flavour.

If you want to add seafood to your Chinese basil chicken recipe, you can use shrimp or scallops. Simply marinate them in the same mixture as the chicken.

Chopping Vegetables

For this recipe, you will need to chop your vegetables into small pieces. You can use a variety of vegetables such as bell peppers, onions, and scallions. Make sure to chop them all to a similar size so that they cook evenly.

Stir-Fry Basics

When stir-frying, it's important to have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go. Heat your wok or frying pan until it's very hot, then add some oil. Once the oil is hot, add your chicken and stir-fry until it's cooked through.

Next, add your vegetables and stir-fry for a few minutes until they are slightly softened. Add your garlic and chilli flakes, and stir-fry for another minute.

Finally, add your basil leaves and stir-fry until they are wilted. Serve your garlicky, peppery Chinese basil chicken with some rice and enjoy!

Remember, stir-frying is all about quick cooking over high heat, so make sure to keep your ingredients moving in the pan.

Step-by-Step Cooking Instructions

A wok sizzles with diced chicken, garlic, and chili in fragrant basil sauce. A chef adds soy sauce and sugar, then stirs in fresh basil leaves

Cooking the Chicken

To start with, heat some vegetable oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add some sliced onions and sauté until they are soft. Then, add the diced chicken and stir-fry until the chicken is cooked through. This should take around 5-7 minutes. If you prefer to use seafood, you can substitute the chicken with shrimp or squid.

Creating the Sauce

Next, it's time to create the sauce. In a small bowl, mix together some oyster sauce, sweet soy sauce, fish sauce, and sugar. If you like your food spicy, add some finely chopped bird's eye chili to the sauce. Stir the ingredients together until the sugar has dissolved.

Combining Ingredients

Once the chicken is cooked and the sauce has been prepared, it's time to combine the ingredients. Pour the sauce into the wok with the chicken and stir to coat the chicken evenly. Continue to stir-fry for another 1-2 minutes until the sauce has thickened and the chicken is coated in a sticky glaze.

Finally, add some fresh basil leaves to the wok and stir-fry for another 1-2 minutes until the basil is wilted and fragrant. If you like your food crunchy, you can also add some chopped peanuts or cashews to the dish.

In just 10 minutes, you can create a delicious Chinese basil chicken dish that is bursting with flavour. The combination of sweet, spicy, and salty flavours makes this dish a real crowd-pleaser.

Serving and Pairing Suggestions

A plate of Chinese basil chicken with steamed rice and stir-fried vegetables, accompanied by a glass of white wine

Accompaniments

Chinese basil chicken is a versatile dish that can be paired with a variety of sides. Steamed rice is a classic accompaniment that complements the flavours of the dish. You can also try pairing it with quinoa or noodles for a different twist.

For a more substantial meal, you can serve the chicken with stir-fried bell peppers and red onions. The sweetness of the peppers and the pungency of the onions will add depth to the dish.

If you have leftovers, you can use them to make a delicious sandwich. Simply shred the chicken and stuff it into a crusty baguette with some lettuce and mayonnaise.

Wine Pairing

Chinese basil chicken has a complex flavour profile that pairs well with a variety of wines. A dry white wine like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio will complement the dish's herbal notes. If you prefer red wine, try a light-bodied Pinot Noir or Gamay.

If you want to take your wine pairing to the next level, try serving the chicken with seafood. Prawns or scallops are excellent options that will add a subtle sweetness to the dish. Pair them with a crisp Chardonnay or a dry Riesling for a perfect match.

Remember to add a splash of rice vinegar to your dish for a tangy kick that will cut through the richness of the chicken.

Frequently Asked Questions

A chef stir-fries aromatic basil and tender chicken in a sizzling wok, creating a mouthwatering Chinese basil chicken dish

What ingredients do you need for a classic basil chicken dish?

To make a classic Chinese basil chicken dish, you will need boneless chicken, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, chilli, and, of course, fresh basil. You can also add other vegetables and spices to give the dish more flavour.

How do you incorporate vegetables into a Thai basil chicken recipe?

You can add vegetables such as bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, and carrots to your Thai basil chicken recipe. You can sauté the vegetables with the chicken or cook them separately and add them to the dish at the end. You can also add seafood like shrimp or squid to the recipe for a delicious twist.

Can you recommend a simple way to prepare basil chicken?

A simple way to prepare basil chicken is to marinate the chicken in soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger for at least 30 minutes. Then, stir-fry the chicken with chilli and fresh basil until cooked through. Serve with steamed rice and enjoy!

What are the key differences between holy basil and Thai basil in cooking?

Holy basil has a stronger flavour and aroma compared to Thai basil. It has a peppery taste that can add depth to your dishes. Thai basil, on the other hand, has a sweeter and more fragrant taste. Thai basil is commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisine, while holy basil is typically used in Thai cuisine.

How is basil typically used in Chinese cuisine?

Basil is commonly used in Chinese cuisine to add flavour to stir-fries, soups, and stews. Chinese basil has a slightly different flavour compared to Thai basil, but it can be used interchangeably in most dishes.

Is it necessary to chop Thai basil before adding it to the dish?

It is not necessary to chop Thai basil before adding it to the dish. You can simply tear the leaves into small pieces and add them to the dish. This will help release the flavour and aroma of the basil. If you prefer a more delicate presentation, you can chop the basil finely before adding it to the dish.

Remember, you can always experiment with different ingredients and spices to make your own unique basil chicken dish. Adding seafood like shrimp or squid can enhance the flavour and give the dish a new twist.