Thai-style Basil and Chilli with Turkey Mince

The inspiration for this Thai-style Basil and Chilli with Turkey Mince came from a dinner I enjoyed at a Thai restaurant in Oxford two weeks ago with WS and his friends to celebrate WS handing in his thesis (hurray!). One of our friends ordered the chicken with basil dish to share, and when it arrived, I took one look at it and without tasting it, knew I had to re-create it at home.

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I made this with turkey mince instead, which worked well and was probably a little healthier, too.

I know I stopped posting recipes awhile back but I really want to share this super easy and yummy stir-fry with those who want to try:

Thai-style Basil and Chilli with Turkey Mince (for 3 portions, to be served with rice and other dishes)

Ingredients
450g minced turkey
at least 10 stalks’ worth of basil leaves, stripped from the stems (I used normal basil and it was fine)
1 red chilli, de-seeded and minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced finely
1 Echalion/banana shallot (or 3 small round shallots), diced
1.5 tablespoons fish sauce
1.5 teaspoons dark soy sauce
vegetable oil, for stir-frying (I used about 1/2 tablespoon)

 

Method
1. Heat wok on medium heat. When wok hot, add oil.
2. The oil needs to be hot for stir-frying. You’ll know that it is hot when it glides around very smoothly around the wok and starts to shimmer just slightly.
3. Stir-fry garlic and shallots until fragrant, but do not brown them, adjust heat to low-medium if necessary.
4. Add chilli. Stir fry for a minute. Do not let it brown.
5. Add turkey. I stir the meat constantly, and I use the spatula to split up the meat so that it separates into lots of tiny pieces.
6. When turkey is starting to get some colour, and when the meat mixture is starting to lose moisture, add fish sauce, basil, and dark soy sauce. The dark soy sauce is not very authentically Thai, but I like adding it to give the dish a little more colour and sweetness.
7. Continue stir-frying until meat is cooked through. Serve hot.

 
Because of the chilli’s heat and dryness of this dish, I served it with a Cantonese-style cucumber salad. There was a post on a cucumber dish before, but I’ve since been eating the below version, which I prefer more.

For the cucumber salad: mince 4 small cloves of garlic and add to a food storage container with a lid. Add 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce, 1/2 tablespoon of rice wine vinegar, and 2 teaspoons sesame oil to the same container, mix well with the garlic. Dice 1 cucumber by first quartering the cucumber length wise (to do this – chop off the ends of the cucumber to flatten them, then very carefully stand the cucumber vertically, slice it down in half, then in half again making an ‘X’). You’ll be left with 4 long lengths of cucumber. Hold these lengths together than chop them across, which will create perfect quarter-circles of cucumbers. Add to the garlic and mixture, mix well, refrigerate until serving time.

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Chinese-style Cucumber Salad

Today I was craving a bit of fresh salad after a having scarfed down a fast-food dinner last night at a friend’s, so I thought to recreate this Chinese-style Cucumber Salad.

Chinese-style Cucumber Salad

I first tasted version of this at one my family’s favourite restaurant in Hong Kong: a tiny, literally 7-table eatery tucked away in North Point. Amongst ourselves we referred to it as ‘North Point Noodles’, and honestly I never knew its real name! Hard to believe, I know. There was a signboard above the narrow shopfront but we got so used to calling it by its nickname, and their noodles and dumplings were so distractingly good, it never really mattered what it was called. Its exact location we guarded like a jealous secret, but we would go back every two weeks for its delicious minced pork and preserved vegetable noodles, pork and cabbage dumplings, and this cucumber starter.

The cucumber is served chilled, after having been dressed with rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, a little sugar and soy sauce, and tossed with pan-fried garlic and chilli. Sometimes the cucumber’s fleshy side is ‘smashed’ with the back of a knife, rather than chopped, to allow it to soak up more of the dressing. I’ve gone for chopping here as my chopping board was covered in cucumber ‘guts’ and juice already :P.

I particularly love the balance of sour with sweet and salty, and the way that the coolness of the cucumber plays against the heat from the chilli; it’s these flavours that make it an appetite-inducing starter.

Chinese-style Cucumber Salad

Ingredients
1 large cucumber – scraped out the seeds and chop into 2 inch chunks
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 small red chilli, minced
1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil, to fry the garlic and chilli
salt

for the dressing
2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons of sesame oil
1.5 teaspoons of white sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
a dash of soy sauce

Method
1. Prepare cucumber, using a knife to cut down the lengths of the fleshy seed part of the cucumber, then use a spoon to scrape out the seeds.
2. Chop cucumber. If you’re feeling ambitious, use the back of the knife to smash the cucumber, flesh side up, to allow it to absorb more of the dressing later.
3. Sprinkle salt across cucumber pieces to draw out some of its moisture.
4. Mix ingredients for the dressing. Set aside.
5. Heat pan on medium heat, add vegetable oil; when oil is hot, fry garlic and half the quantity of red chilli you’ve prepared.
6. Fry until garlic is just about turning golden and turn off heat.
7. Tip in garlic, chilli and hot oil into the dressing mixture. Stir.
8. Drain excess liquid from cucumber. Add dressing, mix well. I like to do this in a plastic container so I can really shake the salad around and coat it with the dressing!

Hope those of you who are intrigued will try this out :).

P.S. Like my new blog theme? Brings out the Pisces in me, ha!