Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Thai Basil Pork with Carrot Slaw

Thai basil is a type of sweet basil grown throughout Southeast Asia. The leaves are darker green and more pointed than Mediterranean basil, and the flavor is a bit stronger, with overtones of pepper and anise. It also has very distinctive—and very pretty—purple stems.

Because Thai basil is heartier and has more pronounced taste than its Western counterpart, its flavor tends to hold up better under the heat of cooking. It’s not unusual for Thai cooks to add a plentiful amount of fresh leaves to spicy stir-fries for a warm, floral balance.

Thai Basil
If you can’t find authentic Thai basil (available at most Asian markets), substitute more common sweet basil. This is one aromatic and flavorful dish regardless.

Note: I topped the stir-fry with a fresh slaw of carrot, cucumber, and scallion to add a little raw crunch to the savory, warm ingredients. The vegetables are tossed in a simple dressing of rice vinegar, sesame oil, and brown sugar. Don’t add the dressing until the very end so that the veggies retain their crunch on top of the stir-fry.

Serves 4


For the Thai Basil Pork
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil
  • 3 red Thai chiles, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 2 cups packed fresh Thai basil leaves
  • 3 cups cooked white rice, for serving
Shallot, Chiles, and Garlic
For the Slaw
  • 4-inch piece of seedless cucumber, peeled, halved crosswise, and cut lengthwise into matchsticks
  • 2 small carrots, peeled, halved crosswise, and cut lengthwise into matchsticks
  • 2 scallions, cut crosswise into thirds, then lengthwise into very thin strips
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp brown sugar
  • sea salt
Slaw Vegetables

For the Thai Basil Pork
  1. Combine the first 4 ingredients (through lime juice) in a bowl, whisking well to dissolve the sugar. 
  2. Heat a wok or large, deep skillet over medium-high heat and add the peanut oil, swirling to coat the pan. Add the chiles, garlic, and shallot and stir-fry 1 minute, until very fragrant.
  3. Add the pork and cook, breaking up the meat, until just cooked through, 6-7 minutes.
  4. Add the basil and stir-fry until wilted, about 1 minute.
  5. Re-whisk the sauce and add to the pan. Stir-fry until some of the liquid is absorbed, 2-3 minutes.
Stir-Fried Chile Mixture 
Pork Added 
Cooked Pork 
Basil Added
Wilted Basil 
Sauce Added
To serve, divide the rice among 4 shallow bowls. Divide the pork mixture on top of the rice and garnish each with slaw (recipe follows). Serve right away.

Thai Basil Pork with Carrot Slaw
For the Slaw

Place the cucumber, carrot, and scallion in a bowl. Whisk the vinegar, oil, and sugar in a small bowl and season with salt. (Stir well to dissolve the sugar.) Pour the dressing over the vegetables just before serving and toss lightly.

Slaw Mixture

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