Here’s a little spin on your regular fried rice with a huge flavor upgrade!! This Thai Basil Fried Rice is infused with such amazing spicy and umami flavors that you will wonder how simple fried rice can be so tasty.
Sure, this recipe requires the extra step of heading to your local Asian Market for Thai basil and their famous Thai bird eye chilis. But boy, it’s so worth it when you whip up this meal in a matter of minutes.
Make this restaurant quality Thai Basil Fried rice tonight. It’s easily customizable to your spice level and whatever protein that goes in it. Easy and quick meal option for weeknights. Fried rice taken to a whole other level with a few extra, but very vital, ingredients…
Apart from regular sauces and ingredients that go in the wok for stir fry, you need two little unusual ingredients that you might not have in your kitchen on any regular day. Thai basil and Thai bird eye chilis. Make a quick call to your nearest Asian store to see if they carry them so you can make this Thai specialty.
Whenever we have a lot of Thai basil in the fridge, our first go to dish is our very popular Thai Basil Chicken, known as Pad Krapow Gai. I just have to make it, it’s that addictive.
We decided to create a fried rice with the same basic flavor profile, from plenty of Thai basil and red chilis.
We like spicy stuff, but you can add as much Thai chilis as you can handle. Just make sure to use plenty of Thai basil for that beautiful combination of the sweet and earthy basil along with the heat. Yumm…
What is Thai Basil?
Thai basil, often know as Holy Thai Basil, (“krapow” in Thai) is native to Southeast Asia. Many people believe it originated in India, but others consider it native to Thailand.
With an anise or black licorice flavor, it has a purple stem, purple flowers, and thin, dark green leaves. It’s used in Southeast Asian cuisine, including Thai, Cambodian, and Vietnamese recipes.
Holy basil is a member of an entirely different species of basil, and has a distinctive vibrant peppery flavor with hints of cinnamon, cloves and menthol. It gives a beautiful freshness to any Asain dish, often contrasting with the spicy chilis, pungent garlic and savory meats.
If you don’t come across this “Holyness” of basil, you can use regular basil. I always encourage people to try new cuisines, even if you are plus or minus an ingredient. It may not be as authentic as you get in Bangkok, but you get the idea.
Ingredients for Thai Basil Fried Rice
- Thai Basil – hence the name… 🙂 This is the most important ingredient, as it will make this fried rice more distinctive. Try to hunt it down, I find its in the refrigerated section of most of Asian grocery stores. In a pinch, you can use regular basil.
- Thai Red Bird Eye Chilis – they are Thailand’s native hot chilis. For any authentic Thai basil dish, you need to use them generously, but you can use as much as you want as per your spice tolerance.
- Garlic – plenty of garlic here.
- Sauces – soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce.
- Sugar or honey – to balance the umami and spice level.
- Protein – today we are using shrimp and eggs.
- Cooked rice – preferably day old cooked rice.
Why to Use Day Old Rice When Making Fried Rice
Freshly cooked rice has a lot of moisture. When you use fresh rice in fried rice, it clumps together and turns out soggy.
Day old rice is dried out. The grains stay separate and form that signature fried rice texture. Use leftover rice stored up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
Well, what you do when you don’t have day old rice? Here is a shortcut..
Freeze the rice!! Spread the rice on a tray and freeze it for 10-15 minutes, or leave it in the refrigerator for 30-40 minutes, until the grains become cool to the touch. Easy!!
How to Make Thai Basil Fried Rice
First, make a rough paste of your chilis and garlic. To really elevate the flavors of this stir fry, I highly encourage you to use your mortar and pestle. Grinding this way really releases all the juices and oils and brings that extra depth of flavor and spiciness.
Mix oyster sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce and sugar in a small mixing bowl, set aside.
Heat a large skillet or a wok over high heat until smoking. Add oil, garlic and Thai chili paste and cook for a minute. Add in shrimp and cook 2 minute each side, then mix everything in the wok.
Push everything to the side of the wok, and crack in 2 eggs. Let them cook a bit, then scramble. When eggs are cooked, toss everything together.
Add cooked rice and pour in the sauce mixture. Toss everything together until the rice is coated evenly with the sauce, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Stir in Thai basil and turn off the heat.
Keep tossing until the basil is well combined with the fried rice. Serve immediately.
Adjusting Spice Levels
Thai cuisine is often known for it’s spiciness. I have made some Thai green curries that will make you breathe fire, but this recipe is relatively mild.
That being said, I always say one should make it as spicy as they enjoy. Like all my recipes, the ingredients listed are just a guide. You don’t like too much spice? Start with 2-3 chilis and work your way up.
Try different proteins instead of shrimp…
- Chicken – You can use boneless breast or thighs to stir fry. Leftover rotisserie chicken can also go great in this recipe.
- Beef – For this recipe, some tender steak strips will be ideal.
- Pork – Both pork loin or ground pork would work in this recipe.
- Tofu – great for a vegetarian option.
Add veggies like green peas, bell peppers, green beans, corn, snow peas, mushrooms or broccoli.
How to Store Leftovers
You can refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Then just re-heat on the stove over medium heat, or microwave. I do not recommend freezing, as the quality degrades a bit.
There you go, add a little oomph and jazz up your fried rice with simple Thai basil and fiery red chilis. If you are spice lover, go heavy handed with the red chilis and you have found your new favorite.
Some magic happens when garlic and red chilis work together with peppery Thai basil. Find it out yourself when you wok up this fried rice. Have fun. I know your are going to love this one… easy Thai Basil Fried Rice on the table in 20 minutes!
Thai Basil Fried Rice, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
- 2 Tbsp oil
- 7-8 garlic cloves
- 4-7 Thai bird chilis (see note 1)
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp fish sauce
- 3 Tbsp oyster sauce
- 2 tsp sugar or honey
- 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 2 eggs
- 2.5 cups cooked rice
- 1.5 cup Thai basil
- Pound garlic and Thai chilis together to a rough paste in a mortar and pestle.
- Mix oyster sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce and sugar in a small mixing bowl. Set aside.
- Heat a large skillet or wok over high heat. Add oil and garlic chili paste. Cook for a minute. Add in shrimp and cook for 2 minute each side, then mix everything in the wok.
- Push everything to the side of the wok. Crack in eggs. Let the eggs cook a bit, then scramble. When eggs are cooked toss everything together.
- Add cooked rice and pour in sauce mixture. Toss everything together until rice is coated evenly with the sauce, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Stir in Thai basil and turn off the heat. Keep tossing until basil is well combined with the fried rice.
- Serve immediately.
- If you don't handle spicy well, start with 1-2 chilis.
Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 409Total Fat 12gSaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 9gCholesterol 332mgSodium 2274mgCarbohydrates 40gFiber 1gSugar 7gProtein 33g
Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.
Never miss a recipe!
Join the GypsyPlate mailing list and get easy dinner recipes right in your mailbox. From homestyle comfort food to exotic dishes from around the world.