A Tale of Two Stir-Fries II: chicken & basil: $1.47/serving

Not much of a tale with this one, I’ll admit, other than the fact I got home late from work and did not—I repeat, DID NOT—want to have anything to do with making dinner, but the prep work went so fast that the food was finished and on the table before I could come up with an alternative. So, if you’re interested in having dinner ready in about 10 minutes, as I understand 99.9% of you probably are, you might want to bookmark this one. In the spirit of yesterday’s beef & ginger stir-fry, this traditional Thai chicken dish—gai pad krapow—is flavorful enough to stand on its own, but it would also be great with plain old rice or noodles, with a fried egg on top, adorned with more peppers, or even as a lettuce wrap.

As below, it serves 2.

• 1 lb. chicken thighs: $1.69
• 1 bunch Thai basil, leaves only (about 1 cup): 79 cents
• 3 T canola oil: 9 cents
• 4 cloves garlic, minced: 12 cents
• 3 Thai chiles (or more, if you like heat) stemmed* (I de-seeded and de-ribbed them, too, because I’m a wuss): 9 cents
• 1 T fish sauce: 6 cents
• 1 tsp soy sauce: 3 cents
• 1 tsp sugar: 3 cents
• 1/4 tsp black pepper: 1 cent
1 cup dry rice + 2 cups water in a rice cooker (optional): 10 cents
TOTAL: $2.94/2 = $1.47/serving

*I get these 88-cent packages at the Asian market, but you could certainly substitute serranos.

If you’re using rice, start the rice cooker. Process the garlic and chiles to a paste in a mortar and pestle, or as close as you can get to a paste in a small food processor. Mince the chicken or chop to tiny pieces (I used a food processor).

Heat a wok, large cast-iron or other heavy skillet (12 inches or larger) on high heat and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the chile-garlic paste, stir frequently. Add the chicken and stir frequently until cooked.

Add the fish sauce, sugar, soy sauce and pepper. Stir until combined. Add the Thai basil leaves, stirring just until wilted.

Serve immediately (over rice, if desired).

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