Chilli Paste Stir Fries (chicken, shrimp or tofu)
Gai Pad Nam-prik Pao
1-2 tbsp oil (any neutral tasting oil suitable for high temperature cooking will do)
two (small) cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 chicken breasts, sliced into bite size
1 heaping tablespoon of chilli Paste* (Nam-prik Pao)
Half an onion, sliced
about half cup each of red bell pepper and green bell pepper, sliced
Fish Sauce to taste (start with 2tbsp, add more if needed)
a handful of Thai Basil, regular basil will do as well
bird-eye Chilli, optional
*I make my own, but you can easily buy it at any Asian Market. The most readily available brand is in a 16oz jar, with yellow top and yellow, red and white lable. The label says Chilli Paste with Soya Bean Oil. The brand is Pantainorasingh. I have used this brand in the past, and found it acceptable for cooking though not for eating plain.
Now you cook...
Into a hot wok or sauteed pan, add the oil, then the chopped garlic
wait until the garlic is just beginning to fragrant, be carful not to let it brown at this time as it will continue to cook after the addition of other ingredients.
Add the chicken, stir it around for a few minutes until the chicken is about half way done, then add the fish sauce and chilli paste, give it a good stir.
Next add the onion and bell peppers.
If you like it very spicy, smashed up a couple of bird-eye chilli and throw them in.
Cook, stiring frequently, until the chicken is done.
Check the seasonings, add more fish sauce if needed.
Throw in the handful of Thai Basil, turn the heat off, stir a few times to incorporate the basil into the dish.
Serve immediately with freshly cooked jasmine rice, from Thailand of course.
Tofu: For the Tofu version, I use Chinese fried tofu that you can buy from most Asian markets. They are normally in square or triangle pieces in plastic bags. Just buy the freshest looking ones. If you are so inspired, you can quick fry them again before cooking, though it's not neccesary. I usually slice them thin and use in place of chicken. You need to add the tofu, onions, and bell peppers at the same time, as the tofu do not need very long to cook, and you want to end up with slightly crunchy onions and bell peppers, not raw.
Shrimp: will do well here as well. For this I would use lemon basil in place of the regular thai basil if you could find them. The subtle tang of the Lemon Basil (Bai Mang-Luck in Thai) goes very well with seafood.
P.S. I've recently done it with clams (2/28/04) and it looks like this: