When I was visiting a friend in New York, I was mildly horrified to find out that her kitchen was almost never used for cooking save for the occasional two-minute noodles. While she had not yet reached Carrie Bradshaw levels of storing sweaters in her oven, I decided to unabashedly boss my way in.
I made a super simple meal of pumpkin soup (it was Fall and pumpkin puree was everywhere) and herb-crusted chicken. She was sold…or so I thought. On her recent trip back to Singapore, we discovered that her favourite dinner was still Basil Fried Rice from Obao in Hell’s Kitchen—delivered right to her doorstep. Old habits might die hard but I don’t waver easily either.
So I set out on a quest to find an easy recipe that was better and cheaper than her thirteen dollar takeout. I struck gold pretty quickly while flipping through an old issue of Bon Appetit. I adapted the Thai Beef with Basil recipe by making it a fried rice version, but personally prefer the original: ladling stir-fried beef over soft white rice and topped with a fresh slaw of carrots, basil and scallions. It was weeknight dinner* perfection and so ridiculously easy too.
* I tend to go for the “quick and dirty” recipes after a day in the office and attempt the more complicated stuff on weekends.
Thai Beef Basil Rice
From Bon Appetit, November 2013
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 red chillis
450g ground beef, seasoned with salt and black pepper
½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
3 cups fresh basil leaves, divided
2 medium carrots, julienned or coarsely grated
2 scallions, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
Steamed rice and lime wedges (for serving)
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add garlic and 1 chilli and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add beef, season with salt and pepper, and cook, breaking up with a spoon and pressing down firmly to help brown, until cooked through and nicely crisped in spots, 8–10 minutes. Add broth and 2 cups basil and cook, stirring, until basil is wilted, about 2 minutes.
Toss carrots, scallions, 1 tablespoon lime juice, and remaining chilli, 1 cup basil leaves, and 1 tablespoon oil in a small bowl.
Mix soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, and remaining 3 tablespoons lime juice in another small bowl until sugar dissolves.
Top rice with beef and slaw and drizzle with soy dressing. Serve lime wedges alongside for squeezing over.