Chicken is my go-to meal. It is so easy to make and one can add a plethora of flavours to achieve a different taste. It’s quite versatile, and that is why I decided to try this recipe with a hefty amount of basil leaves. Pure bliss!
I cooked this dish during one of my dear friends' visit, with whom I share the same hobby, i.e. eating a lot. As she was here just for 2 days, and after such a long time, we decided that we’d go out to eat one day, and cook something at home and relax the next day.
Since we had met after donkey’s years, I didn't want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, but rather sit with her and chat the whole night, with a bit of wine. So we agreed on making something super simple, yet super delicious… And when I think of making something quick, the first thing that pops in my mind is chicken… chicken thighs, to be specific.
I would name Basil as the strongest ingredient in this recipe. The whole house smells like a herb garden, especially after frying these delicious leaves, and its crisp pungency plays really well with this dish. I add loads of chillies because I am a huge huge fan of all sorts of fresh chillies, and they add another dimension to this dish.
Basil Chicken with Pan-Fried Asparagus
Serves 2 people
Total time: 45 minutes
500g chicken thigh fillet
30g Thai basil leaves, about 1 cup
4 tbsp olive oil
170g fresh Asparagus stalks, rinsed, bottoms trimmed if necessary
Salt to taste
4-5 medium garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
2 green chillies, finely chopped
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp lemon juice
Wash the basil leaves and pat them dry. Heat 3 tbsp of oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, throw in the basil leaves, whole. Cover immediately with a splatter guard to prevent the oil from… well… splattering.
Remove the guard as soon as the sizzling has gone down (in a few seconds). Give the leaves a couple of stirs. You will see they will turn crispy very quickly. With a slotted spoon, place these crispy leaves onto some kitchen towels, to rid the leaves of any remnant oil.
We are going to use the same oil for cooking the chicken, as the oil is now infused with the essence of the aromatic basil leaves. You will notice the oil will turn slightly greenish as well.
Now in the same oil and the same pan, on a medium-high heat, add the chopped garlic and green chillies. Sauté for 5-10 seconds, add the chopped chicken, and sprinkle some salt.
Cook for about 12-13 minutes or until cooked through. Make sure you keep stirring, to prevent the chicken from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the heat and throw in some of the fried basil leaves (keep some of the fried leaves aside for the garnish). Mix the chicken and the fried basil leaves thoroughly, so the chicken gets coated nicely.
When done, transfer the contents to a separate dish, as we are going to use the same pan to cook the asparagus.
I use the same pan for pan-frying the asparagus, as all the flavour of the chicken and basil leaves gets imbibed into the asparagus; I’d prefer you to use the same method.
Just add some more olive oil in the pan, over a medium high heat. Chuck in all the asparagus, adding some salt and pepper, and cook for 10 minutes, turning the asparagus to ensure the stalks are evenly cooked.
Scratch every flavourful bit out from the pan and coat the asparagus. At this point, you may add some lemon zest, it's completely optional. Add lemon juice and toss to coat.
Remove from the heat and toss it all in with the cooked chicken.
To serve, top with the remaining fried basil leaves, even throw in some fresh basil leaves, and enjoy immediately with steamed rice or whatever you prefer!