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Crimson Phoenix Dancing (Chicken with Chilli, Basil, Lemongrass, and Coriander Root)

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Crimson Phoenix Dancing (Chicken with Chilli, Basil, Lemongrass, and Coriander Root)
4 servings Easy
Total: Active:
PREVIOUS: Holiday Honey Chicken with Fruit NEXT: Lemongrass and Ginger Chicken

Ingredients (16)

  • 2 cups cooking oil
  • 2 chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 2 tbsp rice wine
  • 1 tbsp tapioca starch
  • 2 large shallots, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 5 red chillies, deseeded
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 large pinch coarse salt
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, sliced into thin rounds
  • 10 coriander roots, minced
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 4 tbsp Thai light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Thai dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar
  • 1 red pepper, cut into 1/2" squares
  • 1 generous handful Thai basil leaves

This Thai-inspired dish is based loosely on gai pad grapao (ไก่ผัดกะเพรา, English: chicken with chillies and holy basil), but with the spiciness toned down and the base flavour heightened through the inclusion of coriander roots, lemongrass, and a generous quantity of soy sauces. The result is a lively, playful dish with a delightful crunch imparted by the deep fried shallots that is suitable for those whose palates are not yet accustomed to the full heat of gai pad grapao. Note that due to its scarcity, Thai basil is used instead of holy basil; however, if you have access to holy basil, it may be be used instead.


  1. 1Velvet the chicken. Marinate the chicken in the cooking wine and tapioca starch for an hour or so. Heat the cooking oil in a large saucepan to medium-high. Proceed in batches so as to not crowd the chicken, and allow the oil to reheat between batches: add chicken to the oil and cook for 10-15 seconds, just until white on the outside. Remove using a slotted spoon, allowing the oil to drain, and set aside.
  2. 2Fry the shallots. In the same cooking oil, on medium-high heat, add the shallots. Stir frequently, cooking until medium-brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
  3. 3Pound the chillies and the garlic with the coarse salt in a mortar and pestle to form a paste.
  4. 4Heat the 5 tbsp of oil (I recommend using the oil the shallots were cooked in as it is most flavourful) in a wok over high heat. When hot, add the garlic-chilli paste and stir-fry for 30 seconds, careful not to burn. Reduce heat to medium-high, add the lemongrass and coriander roots, and stir-fry for another 15 seconds. Stir in chicken and cook for one minute; then add the broth, the soy sauces, and the palm sugar, and cook for another minute, making sure that the chicken is fully cooked. Mix in the red pepper and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and mix in basil.
  5. 5Serve on jasmine rice, topping with a palmful of deep fried shallots.
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