ofm top twenty: stir-fried minced beef with chillies and holy basil

david thompson’s thai food was a fantastically well-received cookery book and one that i continue to be tempted to buy . however, this recipe within the ofm top twenty for stir-fried minced beef with chillies and holy basil comes from his book about thai street food (which is also on my list of books i’d like!) and is quite simple as a result, with ingredients are easy to track down.

so how did i get on?

pulling this together was predictably easy but i did make one change, cooking the fried eggs in a separate pan, just before they were needed, rather than cooking them first and keeping them warm. this was because i wanted to try and preserve a slightly runny egg yolk which i thought might lost otherwise.

the final verdict:

would i have tried this recipe if it hadn't been part of the ofm top twenty? yes – ingredients that i usually have to hand, combined in a different but easy to pull together way is always an appealing option.

would i try this recipe again in the future? yes – the dish was delicious and was wolfed down almost obscenely quickly! i like to think this is the nature of eating street food, rather than just a result of gluttony!

david thompson's stir-fried minced beef with chillies and holy basil (serves 2)

4 peeled garlic cloves

4-10 bird's eye chillies (scuds)

good pinch of salt

3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 eggs

200g coarsely minced beef

2 tablespoons fish sauce

a large pinch of white sugar

4 tablespoons stock or water

2 large handfuls holy basil leaves

chillies in fish sauce (see below) to serve

for the chillies in fish sauce:

4 tablespoons fish sauce

10-15 finely sliced bird's eye chillies (scuds)

2 finely sliced garlic cloves (optional but desirable)

1 tablespoon lime juice (optional)

good pinch of fresh chopped coriander

to make the chillies in fish sauce, combine the fish sauce, chillies and garlic in a bowl and set aside. it keeps for some time – in fact it becomes richer and milder as it settles for a day. make sure it is covered if you are making it in advance – and if the fish sauce evaporates, add an equivalent amount of water to refresh it. just before serving, stir through the lime juice and coriander.

to prepare the chilli beef, coarsely chop the garlic with the chillies and salt. heat a well-seasoned wok over a high heat then turn down the heat and add 2 tablespoons of the oil. crack in one of the eggs and fry gently, shuffling the egg to prevent it from sticking, until it has cooked to your preference – i like mine with a runny yolk but with crispy, frazzled edges. spoon some of the hot oil over the egg to ensure the yolk cooks evenly. carefully lift out the egg with a spatula and place it on a warmed plate, then fry the other egg. keep the eggs warm while you cook the beef.

add more oil – you'll need about 4 tablespoons of oil all up in the wok. when the oil is hot, fry the garlic and chillies for a moment, but don't let it colour. add the beef and continue to stir-fry for a minute until just cooked. season to taste with the fish sauce and sugar but be careful not to make it too salty.

add the stock or water and simmer for a moment. don't let it boil or stew for too long, otherwise the meat will toughen and too much liquid will evaporate – there should be enough to form a sauce. stir in the holy basil and as soon as it is wilted, remove from the heat. it should taste rich, hot, salty and spicy from the basil. serve on two plates with plenty of steamed jasmine rice, a fried egg on top and a bowl of chillies in fish sauce on the side.