CROSS CULTURAL

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Pad Horapa – Thai basil chicken with crispy skins

This dish is closely related to the Teochew style chicken I made a few weeks back. The Thai version seems to have been heavily influenced by the Chinese, due to the fact that many Teochew migrated from Guangdong and dispersed throughout Southeast Asia. The Teochew chicken involved deep frying the meat and basil separately, incorporating sweet oyster sauce and Sichuan peppercorn as the main flavoring agents. The Thai dish, on the other hand, involved stir-frying with loads of garlic, chiles, and fish sauce. Although I prefered the crispiness of the deep fry, the pungent flavors of the Thai version really won me over (expect a post in the future in which I reconcile the two). While most of the Thai recipes I looked at called for ground chicken, I opted for chicken thighs cut into very small pieces. I took the skins from the thighs and rubbed in a bit of white pepper and salt, then fried them until crunchy (I give myself credit for coming up with this excellent addition).  

The Thai basil came from my beloved little potted plant, which is sprouting new leaves way faster than I can keep up with (I’m mostly amazed I’ve managed to keep it alive as long as I have). On a side note, I’ve been giving my plant a steady diet of water with kombu steeped in it, which supposedly provides beneficial vitamins and minerals. I swear I can taste the kelpy flavors in the leaves!

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