Thin slices of tender beef stir-fried with a bunch of Thai basil leaves and delicious umami sauce. This Thai basil beef with zucchini stir-fry is the easiest and quickest Thai food you can make at home.
It has a little bit of everything—garlicky, spicy, savory, and a little bit sweet. What makes it unique is the Thai basil as it adds a distinct peppery taste and anise-like aroma. There is nothing quite like it, really.
Thai Basil stir-fry was my first ever Thai food experience. I clearly remember the bullets of sweats that came running down my face after my first few spoonfuls. Yes, it was burningly spicy as with most Thai food dishes. BUT, I love love it! In spite of and despite of. There was something about the bold peppery aroma of the Thai basil that got me hooked. It brought the stir-fried meat and Asian flavorings to a whole new level of "deliciousness". Plus the fact that it was so good with rice!
Thai Basil is not a common herb. You will probably need a little bit of effort in seeking it out before making this dish. Based on my little research (a.k.a. googling) Italian Basil is an acceptable substitute. I haven't tried it myself but they say it is quite close to the anise or licorice-like flavor of Thai Basil.
As you are making this yourself, you have the ABSOLUTE CONTROL over the level of spiciness. So, don't be afraid of the chilies.
You can pretty much use any hot chili you have at hand. To tone down the level of spiciness, remove or lessen the seeds. Remember to use food-grade gloves when slicing and deseeding to avoid burning your hands.
The ingredients for the sauce are your staple Asian flavorings. You probably already have most of it in your pantry.
- soy sauce or light soy
- oyster sauce
- fish sauce
Add lots of garlic. It makes the dish extra delicious.
The zucchini or courgette was a surprise addition to this dish. It was the vegetable I had at the time Thai basil became available in our local market. Its delicate flavor and succulent texture blended wonderfully with sauce and it easily absorbed the aroma of the basil.
Although chicken is commonly used with Thai basil stir-fry, beef is a great alternative if you prefer a meatier and robust umami flavor.
For convenience, use a package of pre-cut beef strips labeled "for stir-fry". Aside from being a time-saver, it also lessens the dishes to wash like for example, the bulky chopping board.
Watch the video on how to make Thai Basil Beef Zucchini Stir-fry
THAI BASIL BEEF ZUCCHINI STIR-FRY
- 400 grams thin beef slices (use tender cut like tenderloin)
- 1 small onion (sliced)
- 4 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
- 2 pieces deseeded red chilies (i used bird's eye chilies, sliced)
- 1 zucchini (sliced)
- cooking oil (i used canola)
- bunch of *Thai basil leaves
- In a small bowl, combine together all the sauce ingredients. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Taste and adjust the flavors as necessary.
- Heat pan over medium heat. Add oil. Stir-fry onion, garlic, and chilies for 1 minute or until aromatic.
- Add beef and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Pour the sauce. Stir until all slices of beef are coated with the sauce. Add water if you want a saucier stir-fry.
- Add in the zucchini slices. Continue stirring until beef is cooked and zucchini is slightly softened about 2 minutes. Do not overcook.
- Turn off the heat and add the basil leaves. Stir until just wilted. Serve immediately with rice. This is also good with a fried egg.
Recipe Notes and Tips:
- Italian Basil is an acceptable substitute for Thai Basil. I haven’t tried it myself but they say it is quite close to the anise and licorice-like flavor of Thai Basil.
- To tone down the level of spiciness, remove or lessen the seeds. Remember to use food-grade gloves when slicing and deseeding to avoid burning your hands.
- For convenience, use a package of pre-cut beef strips labeled “for stir-fry”. Aside from being a time saver, it also lessens the dishes to wash.
- Recommended beef cuts: sirloin, ribeye, top loin, and tenderloin. Minced beef can also be used.