Back at the olds’ joint, before I moved into the Laundrette, next to the stove dwelled a dog-eared Women’s Weekly recipe book—“Thai Style Cookery”—first printed in 1972 or thereabouts and probably never again, an era when canary-fluoro lemon chicken was the zenith of multicultural fare. You knew it was Thai cooking inside: Womens’ Weekly had thoughtfully titled it using Chinese takeaway font.
The book was of the same ilk as one of my mate Gregson’s—“New Australian Cooking”, an equally mung digest, its faded front cover garlanded with a tempting asparagus, shrimp and hollandaise pancake stack.
As you can imagine, many of the recipes in our book lacked a certain Indochine razzle-dazzle. Yet there was one that stuck out—a fabulous chicken dish with basil and coconut sauce. That the one page this recipe fell upon was so defiled by decades worth of sauce stain testified to just how tasty and cherished it was.
Here’s the sh.k take on a suburban Australian Thai favourite.
- 400ml of coconut milk
- 1 Chicken breast, sliced into ½ cm strips
- 1 Stalk of lemongrass, sliced very finely
- 1 Garlic clove, minced
- 1 brown onion, finely diced
- 1 Cup of basil, chopped
- 1 Red chilli, sliced finely (with seeds for extra heat)
- 1 Tbls of white, palm or caster sugar
- 1 Tsp of sesame oil
- 1 lime, sliced into wedges
- A handful of coriander leaves
- Toasted sesame seeds
- Vegetable oil (peanut or sunflower work well)
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Heat a frying pan or wok on high with approximately 1 tbls of vegetable oil.
- Fry the onion, garlic, lemongrass, sesame oil, chicken and half of the red chilli. Once the chicken has started to brown, add the sugar, basil and coconut milk.
- Stir to combine the ingredients, season and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for a further 12-15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
- Serve immediately with rice or noodles. Top with coriander, chilli, sesame seeds, and a wedge of lime.