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Basil explosion

We’ve got this ancient basil plant at the factory, which sprouts basil leaves faster than I can harvest.

This photo was taken after a major harvest session. My dad sometimes re-plants them from cuttings; the young one at the bottom was planted from the ancient basil. We still have two other pots of basil plants at the other side of the corridor.

A new routine sometime last year involved cooking for my dad in the morning. One healthy meal in the morning to deter him from his usual lontong, laksa, fishball noodles extra vinegar + chili, NASI PADANG(!!!) etc.

You get the idea.

So anyway, I put myself in charge of his (and my) breakfast Mon-Sat.  I get Sundays off, because in actuality he wants the Sunday off from healthy food.  And, because I do Meatless Mondays, he gets to do Meatless Monday Mornings…which, at times if I really think about it, it is only fair that I don’t so fervently attempt to download the entire fridge of healthy ingredients down his throat.  My old man is getting old, I shouldn’t be so hard on him.   It’s not easy to make changes overnight, and I should be thankful that he patronises my food even when it’s too bland/watery/dry/you-name-it.

Enter Basil Chicken, the cheat-day breakfast for dad.  It is adapted from a more commonly-known 三杯鸡 aka “three cup chicken” recipe, which traditionally involves a cup of soya sauce, a cup of rice wine, and a cup of sesame oil.  Or rather, an equal proportion of condiments, depending on the chicken quantity.

I know it’s a cheat-day meal, but let’s not push it, okay? I’m not going to murder my own dad with that amount of sesame oil and soya sauce. Plus, I almost never measure my ingredients when I cook, so technically, I guess I can’t really call it the 三杯鸡 since I’m not staying true to the ingredients ratio..

My parents are never known for open displays of positive emotions. Try asking if they like something you prepared?  “It’s okay” when they like it, “it’s okay” when it’s just okay.  “It’s not nice and [insert 200 other criticisms]” when they don’t like it. Yes, it makes me weep internally.  On the upside, I guess it does motivate me try eeeeeeeeeeven harder to win their approvals.  And dad’s approval I did win.

One lovely afternoon, I overheard dad’s conversation with sis, he said, (words clearly not meant for my ears) “That basil chicken that 珍 prepared, very nice.”

My dad said “very nice.

He said VERY NICE.  

Oh my Herb God, you’ve finally decided to take pity on me.  I love you,  and I love my sharp ears, THANK YOU.

♥ Cheat-Day Stir-fried Basil Chicken ♥

  • 3-4  pcs Chicken drum/thigh meat.  Chopped, bone attached.  Add salt, light soya sauce and hua diao wine.  Marinate overnight.
  • Slices of ginger
  • Cloves of garlic
  • 2-3 stalks dried chilli, soaked overnight, remove seeds
  • 1-2 pinches of sugar
  • Dark soya sauce
  • More hua diao wine
  • Sesame oil (I use dark sesame oil)
  • Some water
  • A generous bunch of basil.


Heat wok on high heat, drizzle a little sesame oil and fry ginger, followed by garlic and dried chilli.  Add  chicken, skin side down when possible.  I arrange them in the wok, piece by piece, by hand (because I like to look fearless in the kitchen), and leave them covered and undisturbed for half to one minute.  Remove cover and turn chicken pieces over (with a fry turner!).  Sprinkle sugar, drizzle some dark soya sauce and stir fry, add just enough water to let the chicken simmer.  Cover and lower heat.

Give a few minutes for sauce reduction, in the meantime tear and bruise basil leaves.  Remove cover and turn heat back on high, pour in more hua diao wine and stir fry, drizzle some sesame oil.  Turn off heat.  Remove wok from stove and stir in basil leaves.  Serve!