Life’s a Feast: Chilli and Thai basil chicken


Thai basil chicken is a contender for one of the most popular and well-known street foods in Thailand. It’s up there with pad Thai, tom kha gai and green curry. The best thing about it is the fact it’s very simple to cook, tastes amazing and you can even get your kids eating it by reducing the amount of chilli. I was lucky enough to have spent the last three weeks in Thailand and managed to talk my way into a number of kitchens to get some sneaky cooking lessons and tips from the best! This dish is infused with the delicious, aromatic Thai basil, thrown in at the end to create a more fresh and pungent flavour. It has a perfect balance of hot and savoury. Enjoy!


3 fresh red chilli
2 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
300g chicken breast finely chopped
(or use chicken mince)
1/2 onion sliced
10 beans top and tailed and chopped in bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons soya sauce
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
A good handful of Thai basil
1 cup of uncooked Jasmine rice, cooked according to instructions


1. Crush chilli and garlic together in mortar and pestle, or chop finely.

2. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or large pan to a medium-high heat. Add garlic and chilli and fry until garlic is just starting to colour.

3. Add chicken, stirring to ensure it doesn’t clump or stick to pan. Add about 1-2 tablespoons of water and keep stirring until chicken is cooked through, about 3-4 mins.

4. Next add your chopped beans and combine with chicken.

5. Add fish sauce, soya sauce, oyster sauce and sugar, and mix through the chicken. Add 2-3 more tablespoons of water if you like a bit more sauce with your meal. Stir for 1-2 mins until the sugar is dissolved and the chicken is totally coated in sauces.

6. Taste and add a little more sugar, chilli or fish sauce if needed, depending on your taste.

7. Take off the heat and add your Thai basil.

8. Serve immediately with jasmine rice.

N.B.There are three main types of basil used in Thai cooking. There is Thai sweet basil as used in this dish, but usually used in curries. There is holy basil - which is hard, if not impossible, to find outside Thailand - which should traditionally be used in this dish. And thirdly is lemon basil, which is often used in Thai soups.