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.

Mayonnaise and Turkey, an unlikely combination

Happy December, everyone!

It’s really starting to feeling like the holiday season here in Oxford. Festive fairy lights draped everywhere, crazy shoppers taking over the city centre, and suddenly everyone’s wearing Santa hats and drinking gingerbread lattes. Have to say that I do like the festivities, as commercialised as it has become.

And because I have spent a little more than usual on early Christmas dinners and parties already, one of the areas I’ve been trying to cut back on in a desperate attempt to save up for the holidays is grocery. Bulk buying meats, vegetables and carbs (2.5 kg of potatoes, anyone?); skipping out on little luxuries like juice and ice cream; choosing meats and seafood carefully so as to get the ones on offer, etc – it actually has meant I’ve tried new, cheaper alternatives to the stuff I usually get as a result.

Hence this post on turkey – I usually don’t cook turkey because it’s hard to cook well without over-drying the meat , but the breast fillets were half the price of chicken, so why not. Turkey meat is slightly drier than chicken, but I wanted to pan fry it, so after chopping the breast fillets into smaller pieces, I marinated it in mayonnaise and a little lemon juice to give the  meat more moisture. Then before going into the pan, the meat was rolled in a little corn and plain flour to give it a ‘fried’ texture.

In hindsight, I should’ve left the fillet as it is because I think by chopping up the meat, I created too much surface area for it to dry out. Oh well, it still tasted pretty good :).

I then garnished the turkey with parsley for a fresh herb-y fragrance and flavour. Dill would probably work too if parsley isn’t your thing – it’s one of those herbs that seems to really divide people. Kind of like cinnamon.

So here it is, Pan Fried Turkey with Mayonnaise – and some pretty parsley leaves ;).

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looks like fried chicken, ey?

and up a little closer…

Pan Fried Turkey with Mayonnaise

Ingredients, for 4 portions
turkey breast fillets, either chopped into bite-sized pieces if you want more of a popcorn effect, or left as breast fillets if you want to serve it more as a main dish
mayonnaise, 1/2 cup
lemon juice, 1/2 tablespoon
salt
black pepper
1/4 cup corn flour and 1/4 cup plain flour, mixed onto a plate
several stalks of parsley (or dill if you’re averse to parsley), leafy bits for garnish*
butter, 2 tablespooons
vegetable oil, for frying, 2 tablespoons
*I thought about marinating the meat in the herbs but it would mean you’d have to pick out all the leaves before pan frying the meat – the herbs would just burn in the pan. Served separately is the safer option?

Method
1. Marinate turkey in mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt and black pepper. Set aside for at least half an hour. I don’t believe in having to marinate things in the fridge if the raw meat isn’t going to be kept out for that long, so I usually just leave the marinating meat in the coldest, driest part of the kitchen.
2. Potter around, preferably with music ;)! Prepare the other components to your meal.
3. Heat pan on medium-high heat with at least 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
4. Flour marinated turkey in your corn+plain flour mixture. Then pan fry the meat in the hot pan in batches.
5. Halfway through the cooking process, turn down heat to medium. Add butter to the pan.
6. When both sides of the turkey is cooked to a nice golden brown, and the meat is firm to touch (turkey cooks quite quickly compared to chicken), remove from pan. Garnish with parsley.

If you do give this recipe a go, please let me know how it goes with the turkey – as good as chicken, or does it remain the understudy, only coming out in times of relative austerity? I’m convinced that it can be just as good, but I think I didn’t quite do it justice this time around!