When I was a freshman in high school we had a Thai exchange student that stayed with my family. Her name was Yong and she came from Bangkok. She was very shy and sweet as well as a great student.
I remember my English teacher used to tell us that she did better in his class than the American students. I also remember that she drank buttermilk out of our fridge one day thinking it was milk. She spit it out and had the most horrible look on her face. We laughed, but I’m not sure she knew what to think. I remember the day that she left was soooo sad…I cried the whole day. I think my parents took us to Burger King to cheer us up a bit. We kind of lost touch with her after a while although last I knew she was a flight attendant on a Thai airlines.
Having Yong at our house was probably the first real exposure I ever had to authentic Asian food. Her family would send this super spicy chili paste to her every so often and we got totally hooked on it while she was with us. It came in a little jar and you would scoop out a bit and mix it into your rice. It was a bit oily and it was HOT in a kind of addicting way.
I was so happy when I realized that I could find it here in the US. I got the jar that I have now at my local Asian supermarket, but I think you can find it in some nice grocery stores that have a decent Asian foods section. The chili paste has a really nice heat to it, but it has a flavor that I am having a hard time describing. It’s kind of like a full-bodied Siracha sauce if that makes sense:-) I like to just toss it on my rice and mix it in before I put the stir fry on it. I found it online at Amazon.com if you can’t get it at your local grocer.
This is a really yummy dish with some great Asian flavors. I kind of took some liberties on Chinese food by adding the Thai Basil, but I really think that it goes great with the sweetness of the Hoisin sauce. I grew some Thai Basil in my herb garden this year and it got HUGE. I found it at the Wal-Mart Garden Center so everyone should be able to find it. It will be in my herb garden next year as well. If you have never tasted Thai Basil I would describe it as a cross between Italian Basil and Anisette. It really has a nice flavor and it would go great with a curry, too.
So this is my mix of Chinese food with some optional Thai flavors and I think it makes for a great dish. Enjoy!
Hoisin Chicken with Red Peppers
- 1 med. onion cut into thin strips
- 2 red peppers cut into thin strips
- 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1/3 c. cornstarch
- 2 tsp. ginger paste or minced fresh ginger
- 1 to 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 c. chicken broth.
- 1 tbsp. cornstarch
- 3 tsp. dry sherry
- 3 tsp. cider vinegar
- 3 tsp. hoisin sauce
- 4 tsp. soy sauce
- A good handful of Thai Basil cut in a chiffonade.
- Canola Oil - enough to coat your wok or skillet
- brown rice
- Thai Chili Paste to taste optional
- Cut chicken into bite size pieces. Coat chicken pieces with cornstarch. Heat oil in wok or frying pan over high heat. Add chicken, cook completely until golden brown (about 5 minutes). Drain on paper towel. Stir fry ginger and/or garlic (1 minute). Add onion and stir fry for 2 minutes then add pepper and stir fry until the peppers are softened and onion is translucent.
- Combine chicken broth and remaining ingredients through the soy sauce. Add to the veggie mixture and then add the chicken. Cook until the sauce starts to boil and thickens. At the very end add 3/4 of the basil. Stir this in with the rest of the dish and let it cook for another minute.
- Server over rice. To spice this dish up I add Thai Chili Paste (to taste) before topping with the stir fry. Mix the paste into the rice with a fork so it is evenly distributed. Finish with the remaining Thai basil.
- You can add other veggies. Broccoli or snow peas would be good in this.