Minced chicken stir-fried with basil

Serves: 4 PrepTime: 30 mins CookTime: 30 mins

100g/4oz fresh holy basil leaves, or ordinary basil (weight after removing stems)
vegetable oil, for shallow-frying
5 cloves garlic
75g/3oz shallots or onions
2.5cm/1in cube fresh root ginger
2 fresh hot green chillies, or to taste
2 fresh hot red chillies, or to taste
450g/1lb minced chicken (from boned, skinned chicken breast and/or legs)
5 tsp fish sauce, or salt to taste
1½ tsp dark brown sugar


Wash the basil leaves and pat them dry. Set aside half of the whole leaves, chop the rest very coarsely and set aside.

Heat a 1cm/½in depth of oil in a medium frying pan over a medium-high heat. Put a plate lined with kitchen paper near the hob. If available, have ready a splatter screen or an upturned sieve to cover the pan to prevent the oil splattering.

When the oil is hot, add a small handful of whole basil leaves. Cover immediately with the screen or sieve (if using). Remove the cover as soon as the intense sizzling has died down - after a matter of seconds - and stir the leaves once or twice. They will turn crisp very quickly. Remove with a slotted spoon and spread out on the kitchen paper to drain. Fry the rest of the whole basil leaves in the same way. (Replace the kitchen paper under the basil leaves several times to prevent the crisp leaves from becoming soggy.) Once the oil has cooled sufficiently, strain and reserve it.

Peel and finely chop the garlic. Peel and finely slice the shallots. Peel and finely grate the ginger. Cut the green and red chillies into fine rounds.

Just before serving, heat four tablespoons of the reserved oil in a large frying pan or wok over a medium-to-high heat. Add the garlic and shallots, and fry, stirring, for about two minutes or until the shallots are golden brown. Add the chillies and ginger and give a few vigorous stirs.

Increase the heat to high and stir in the chopped basil. Add the minced chicken and fry for about three minutes, stirring to break up the lumps as you do so. The chicken should turn white all the way through. Stir in the fish sauce and sugar.

Transfer to a serving dish, top with the crisp-fried basil leaves and serve.