When I was 11, my mom took me to Thailand for the first time. We explored temples with shiny, golden Buddhas of all sizes, saw an eye-opening cabaret show where I struggled to tell ladies from ladyboys, and shopped till we dropped all over Bangkok. It was pretty awesome.
However, being 11, I was still the world’s pickiest eater and instead of diving into the luscious coconut curries, fragrant rice dishes and savoring the addictingly sweet Thai coffees, I opted for soy chicken and rice practically every night. Seriously. In fact, my favorite food memory was finding a vendor who made the most divine chocolate crepes (all nutella and crispy edges as I recall), but come on, a crepe?!
I’m happy to report that I’ve come quite far since then and enjoy Thai food on the regular now. Need proof? Well, while perusing Bon Appetit for some new dishes to try I happened upon this Thai Beef with Basil recipe that instantly made my mouthwater.
Reading the comments that people left on the recipe, I spotted one suggestion to make this dish healthier by using ground turkey instead of beef. Done and done. I also added red peppers to this since I had some kicking around in the fridge.
What’s especially awesome is that this dish is insanely easy and quick to make. I probably spent about 10 minutes prepping everything and 10 minutes cooking it all. Plating it for this post probably took the longest amount of time haha. This also includes the time it took to cook some brown rice to go with everything.
I recommend saving ½ cup of basil and putting it on top of the finished dish to add an extra punch. Don’t worry, the residual heat will end up wilting it a bit so it’s not so jarring. I also found that the fish sauce dressing goes a long way – I only needed about one teaspoon over my food to provide enough of the salty flavor that ties this whole thing together.
Thai Turkey with Basil and Peppers
Adapted from Bon Apetit
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 red chiles, thinly sliced, seeded for less heat if desired, divided
11/2 pound ground free-run turkey
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
3 cups fresh basil leaves, divided
2 medium carrots, julienned or coarsely grated
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
1 teaspoon sugar
- Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add garlic and one of the chilis and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add turkey, season with salt and pepper, and cook, breaking up with a spoon and pressing down firmly to help brown, until cooked through and nicely crisped in spots, about 10 minutes.
- Add broth and 2 cups basil and cook, stirring, until basil is wilted, about 2 minutes.
- To make the dressing, toss carrots, 1 Tbsp. lime juice, and remaining chili, 1/2 cup basil leaves, and 1 Tbsp. oil in a small bowl.
- In another bowl, mix soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, and remaining 3 Tbsp. lime juice until sugar dissolves.
- Top brown rice with beef and carrot slaw and drizzle with dressing.
Makes 4 servings