Thai Basil fried rice (Khao Pad Kaprao)

And here’s how to make it:

WHAT YOU NEED
Cold, cooked long grain rice – 2 cups
Garlic – minced – 1-2 tbsp (I like to use more)
Fresh red chillies – finely chopped – 1-3 tsp (adjust to your taste, really)
Red, green, and yellow peppers mixed – 1/2 inch squares – 3/4 cup
Onion – 1/2 inch squares – 2 tbsp
Fish sauce or light soy sauce – 2 tbsp (adjust according to saltiness of sauce)
White sugar – 2 pinches
White pepper – 1 tsp (use 1/2 tsp black pepper if you don’t have this)
Fresh shrimp, shelled and deveined – 50 gm (optional)
Peanut oil – 2 tbsp
Holy basil (or sweet basil) leaves – torn by hand – 1 handful
(Feel free to add more veggies or different meats to this dish as you see fit. It’s very flexible.)

HOW TO MAKE IT
Get all the ingredients ready. It shouldn’t take too long. I predict about 10 minutes.
Heat a wok till the surface is almost smoking. Then add the oil and spread it around till it coats the surface evenly.

Temporarily move the wok off the heat and the add the garlic and chillies, then stir for about 10 seconds. This is to prevent the garlic and chilli from burning. Then add the peppers, onion, and shrimp, move the wok back to the high heat, add two pinches each of salt and pepper and toss around for another 30 seconds. The shrimp should be a little undercooked because it will continue to cook after the rice has been added.

Now add the rice to the pan, crumbling any big sticky blocks with your hands to ensure they’re all separate.

Toss the rice and the veggies well and keep stirring for another minute or two so that the rice grains are properly coated with the oil. Then add the sugar, white pepper, and fish or light soy sauce. Stir the mixture around again for another minute. Then taste the rice to check saltiness. If it’s less, add some more fish sauce.

OK, we’re down to the final stage of the cooking, my friend. This is when you throw in the basil leaves into the rice and something magical happens. All of a sudden, the aroma of the basil comes floating out of the wok, turning simple ingredients into a delicious dish. Stir the rice and basil mixture in the wok for another minute, then take it off the heat and serve. That’s all there is to it.

CHEF’S NOTES
You need a large wok or pan for this. Trust me, won’t you? You need to have lots of extra space in it. If you try to stir-fry the dish in a small wok, you will spread the rice everywhere. Everywhere, I tell you! It will go over the side, jump on to your clothes, and you will have to be so careful that it will not be worth the effort.

Remember what I told you about the cold rice? Well, just remember it, eh?

If your next question is how to make perfect steamed rice, rest assured that my next article will tackle just that.

If you’re wondering where the dark colour comes from in fried rice served at cheap-ass Chinese joints, it’s from dark soy sauce.

If you’re a wimp, reduce the chilli but please don’t cut it out completely.

If you add other veggies to the dish, make sure they get enough time to cook before adding the rice.

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