Quick and Easy Thai Basil Beef
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A quick and easy 20 minute recipe for thai basil beef. Only a few ingredients and is totally a takeout fake out! Even better than the restaurants version! Kids, grown-ups, and picky eaters are all going to love this recipe!
I’m bringing you one of my all time favorite meals today. It’s quick + easy + delicious + has minimum prep work! I love meals like that don’t you?
I’ve been on a major Thai food binge lately. Like to the point where i’m starting to feel bad for the hubby because he’s putting up with it without saying a word. I made a Thai salad with peanut dressing the other day, threw in some basil, chicken, and quinoa for good measure and called it a meal. I also made this thai basil beef 3 days before that salad, and again like 2 days after the salad. Are you feeling bad for him now? Poor hubby!
Let me just say this, I know that thai food doesn’t really use a lot of ground beef, at least not the restaurant stuff that i’m familiar with. But this is a recipe that’s weeknight friendly and frankly, it tastes good, does it matter what form the meat is in? Oh, and by the way, you can substitute ground chicken or turkey for this recipe too. 😉
I’m going to go through a few ingredients so bare with me if this post is a little bit snooze worthy. This is my attempt to help you make this Thai basil beef as authentic to restaurant style as possible. I’ll discuss a few ingredients that are common in Thai cooking and also tell you where to purchase them. Again, this may get a little boring for some, so feel free to skip ahead if you’d like.
Okay. Now that i’ve got your attention. The first step in this recipe is to make the garlic mixture. Now, traditionally this would be done in a mortar and pestle and sometimes, I bust out the mortar and pestle when i’ve got a few extra minutes and I want to make the real deal. I doubt they make the garlic mixture in a mortal and pestle in restaurants. If they do, I feel terrible for the guy that’s got that job. It’s hard stuff, yo! My garlic cloves are always flying straight out of that thing. This could be because my mortar and pestle is a cute tiny size, but that’s besides the point.
To make the garlic mixture all you need is a handful of garlic cloves (5 to be exact) and 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Traditionally, Thai chili or birdseye chilis are used to prepare thai basil beef. But, those are a little hard to come by where I live (even at the Asian supermarket) so i’m using dried red pepper flakes. When you crush them with the garlic in a mortar and pestle, they get nice and hydrated and are almost like using fresh birds eye chilis. When you’re trying to make this quickly and on the fly, a mortar and pestle is not the way to go. I’d suggest running the garlic cloves through a spice grinder or a small food processor until it’s just a cross between tiny pieces and slightly starting to turn into a paste. Toss in the red pepper flakes when you’re done.
For the sauces (or seasonings) we’re going to use:
- Fish sauce – any fish sauce is fine but traditionally in Thai cooking Nam pla is used. If nam pla can’t be find in your local Asian market, you can purchase it here.
- Low sodium soy sauce
- Golden Mountain sauce – this is a sauce that’s used A LOT in traditional Thai cooking. I also use it in my drunken noodles and it so so good. Really makes whatever you’re making taste so much more like restaurant style food. This one took me a while to track down, you can purchase it here if you’d like.
- lime juice
- brown sugar
The last thing about this Thai basil beef is the — basil! Okay, so there are apparently 50-150 different varieties of basil, who even knew that? <– that was obtained by a quick read over on the ever-so-helpful Wiki. But i’m going to talk about the top 3. 1.) Italian basil 2.) thai basil, and last but not least, 3.) holy basil.
- Regular basil – it’s mild in flavor and though it can be used in this recipe, you would need to double the amount of basil that’s used to get close to the basil flavor.
- Thai basil – this is the most common kind of basil used in Asian cuisine here in North America. It has a stronger flavor than regular basil but is still milder than it’s older brother, the holy basil. I found it at my asian supermarket.
- Holy basil – this kind of basil is strong. It is common in both Thai and Indian cuisine. It also has a slightly peppery, and spicy, almost clove-like taste to it. I have never used it in cooking before, but I assume you would need to watch how much of this stuff you add. Probably less than half of the quantity of the thai basil.
YAY! You made it to the end. Pat yourself on the back as you’ve just completed the thai basil beef training boot camp. Okay, not really, but you know what, you learned something today. I can’t say if it’ll come in handy other than when you’re making this dish, but still. Please, don’t use that little thing about 150 varieties on basil as an ice breaker, people WILL look at you funny.
But most of all, have a fabulous weekend and make sure to make some of this basil beef for yourself!
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or fresh birds eye chilis)
- 1 pound lean ground beef, chicken, or turkey
- 1 shallot, chopped (half a medium onion is fine too)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce (preferably nam pla
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar (light or dark)
- 2 tablespoons Golden mountain sauce
- 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 cup thai basil (or 2 cups regular basil)
optional for serving:
- sliced sweet peppers, carrot matchsticks, sesame seeds and jasmine rice
- Place the garlic and red pepper flakes in a mortar and pestle and crush till the garlic breaks down into tiny pieces. Alternately, you can add the garlic to a spice grinder or small food processor and run until the garlic is in tiny pieces. Add the red pepper flakes and allow the mixture to sit for 2-3 minutes.
- In a wok or a large skillet, heat the oil and cook the garlic chili mixture with the shallot for about 1 minute. Add the beef and season with black pepper and continue to cook breaking the meat with a spoon as needed, about 5-7 minutes. Add the fish sauce, brown sugar, golden mountain sauce, soy sauce, and lime juice. Continue to cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Add the basil and let it cook and wilt for just 1-2 minutes.
- Serve with jasmine rice topped with sesame seeds, sliced sweet peppers, and matchstick carrots.
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