Thai Basil Shrimp Recipe

wok, shrimps, thai basil, chili
Getty Images/Louis-Laurent Grandadam
  • 25 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins,
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Yield: serves 2
Ratings

One of the most popular street dishes in Thailand is made with fragrant basil leaves and a combination of protein (chicken, pork or seafood) and vegetables. This is the seafood version, and it's simply a stupendous dish.  Here it's made with shrimp, but any seafood would work equally well, or a combination of shrimp and mussels, for example.  It's usually quite spicy with red chili scattered throughout or sometimes added on top. In addition, it's common to serve this dish with rice and a fried egg. If you're ready to take on a true Thai dish, give this one a whirl -- you won't be disappointed!

What You'll Need

  • 15 to 18 medium to large shrimp, shells removed (tails may be left on)
  • 2 bell peppers (1 red, 1 green), chopped into bite-size strips
  • 1 small cooking onion, chopped or cut into thin wedges
  • 1 cup fresh basil (lightly pressed down)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • A few splashes of white wine or white cooking wine
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 spring onions, sliced
  • 1 to 2 thumb-size pieces galangal or ginger, matchsticks or grated
  • 1 to 2 fresh red chilies, sliced, to taste
  • 6 to 8 kaffir lime leaves, snipped into strips with scissors
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons regular soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce (or substitute 1/2 tablespoon regular soy sauce)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • Eggs (1 per person, optional)

How to Make It

  1. Place all stir-fry sauce ingredients (garlic, spring onions, ginger, chilies, lime leaves, fish sauce, lime juice, 1/2 cup fresh basil, oil, soy sauces, and brown sugar) in a food processor or chopper. With the lime leaves, cut around the stem and discard.  Process well to form an aromatic paste. Taste-test for sweetness/sour balance, adding more sugar to taste (you will adjust the other flavors later). Set aside.
  1. Warm a wok or frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and bell peppers and stir-fry 2 to 3 minutes, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons white wine as you go. 
  2. Add the shrimp and stir-fry sauce. Stir-fry 3 minutes, until shrimp are pink and plump. 
  3. Turn heat down to low and fold in 1/3 cup chopped basil (be generous!).  Now add the coconut milk a little at a time, taste-testing as you go (some people like this dish with the coconut milk, and others prefer the more potent version without).
  4. Taste-test for salt and spice, adding more fish sauce if not flavorful or salty enough, or more lime juice if too salty. Add more coconut milk if too spicy.
  5. To serve it the way they do in Thailand, simply fry an egg in a little vegetable oil and lightly salt it.  Set this over a mound of rice on each plate.
  6. Tilt shrimp onto the plate. Add a generous topping of chopped fresh basil, and serve with Thai jasmine rice. Often this dish is also accompanied with cucumber slices.