Aug 2, 2015

Seafood with Thai Basil

I love seafood, I love basil, and I love Thai cuisine.  And that's why I decided to make this for dinner last night. :)


What's In It?

1 kg mixed seafood (prawns, halibut fillets, mussels, squid), or 250g of each seafood*
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1/8 cup brown sugar
1 medium red bell pepper, washed, seeded and sliced into cubes
4-6 Thai chilies, washed and sliced lengthwise
1 medium red onion, peeled and sliced
half a head of garlic, peeled and mashed
a handful of holy basil leaves (20-25 pcs), washed and stems removed
3-4 tablespoons cooking oil
cornstarch slurry (3 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 5 teaspoons water) -- optional

Kitchen Conjugations:

1. Heat oil in a medium-sized wok or deep frying pan over high heat for 1-2 minutes.
2. Saute onions until soft and translucent.  Add garlic, chilies and bell peppers and stir-fry for one minute.
3. Keeping flame on high, add in the seafood, fish sauce, oyster sauce and sugar.  Stir fry for 2-3 minutes.
4. The seafood will render water as they cook so the mixture will turn watery. Spoon out excess water, leaving only enough to cover seafood.
5. Check seasonings.  Add more sugar, salt or chilies depending on preference.
6. Add in the basil leaves and let the mixture simmer until the leaves wilt a little (about one minute).
7. You may thicken the sauce by stirring in the cornstarch slurry at this point. Simmer with continuous stirring for 30 seconds or until the sauce thickens a bit.
8. Serve with steamed rice. Enjoy!


1. I used frozen seafood.  If using fresh ones, be sure to gut and process the squid, and peel and devein the shrimp.

2. This recipe works perfectly as well with chicken and pork fillets, or all-prawn, all-mussel, all-squid versions.

3. I like spice, and for me the 4-6 chilies deliver just the right kick.  You may however tone the spice level by using only 2-3 chilies or omitting the chilies altogether as the holy basil is also spicy.

4.  Do NOT overcook the basil. It will turn black and lend a bitter taste to the dish. In doubt, better to leave it undercooked than overcooked.

5. If you plan to have this cooked way ahead of serving or eating it, or if you will have to freeze and reheat it for later, I suggest you cook this recipe WITHOUT adding the basil, and just add the basil leaves during reheating.

6. Cooking over high temp is crucial because the seafood need to cook quickly so they remain juicy and soft.  Overcooking the squid for one will make it tough and rubbery.

Appreciate your comments and questions! :)