Fresh, fragrant, healthy stir fry

Basil is great in stir-fry.

It’s amazing how you can have a flourishing pot plant garden with the drought. Earlier this year we created a grey water pipe to lead off from the kitchen sink into a very eargerly waiting basin outside.

And almost every morning when I go to the back garden to empty the coffee grounds from my coffee pot into the bushes, I scoop up the grey water to feed the ever-thirsty pots.

The basil is literally going bos and some tomato seeds I pushed into the soil of another container is also doing extremely well.

Putting the basil to good use in the kitchen was easy this week. I’ve been watching celeb chef Reza Mahammed Prince of Spices on his Asian tour on TV, and, last week salivated as I vicariously went with him on his journey through Vietnam.

The South East Asian country is known as a culinary hotspot and small wonder. With the combination of the legacy the French left foodwise with a cuisine that makes the most of seafood and beautiful vegetables you get fragrant dishes that are both light and healthy. You can ease up on the heat by reducing the amount of chilli you use if your palate doesn’t fancy it hot, hot, hot.

Chicken and broccoli stir fry


500 g chicken breasts sliced into thin strips

150 g long stem broccoli

small packet mini corn spears

1 packet mange tout peas

1 red pepper deseeded and sliced

1 red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced

1 handful fresh basil

1 handful fresh coriander


3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thinly

1 x 3cm knob of ginger, grated

Fish sauce,

Sesame oil

Juice of one lime

Sweet soy sauce

Oyster sauce


Put the chicken strips in a plastic container that has a lid.

Make a marinade by mixing the garlic, ginger, a good glug of soya sauce and oyster sauce and the lime juice. Pour over the chicken and close the container and shake it thoroughly so that the marinade mixes in and covers the chicken.

Place in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Cut the stalk ends off the broccoli and cut each piece of broccoli in half lengthwise.

Splash some sesame oil (you can use sunflower oil or grapeseed oil but not olive oil as the flavour is too strong) in a large wok or a large, wide–rimmed pan.

When it is sizzling hot, add in the marinated chicken pieces with the marinade juice.

Allow to sizzle and then add in the veggies and the chilli. Add more soy sauce and oyster sauce to taste and about half a teaspoon of fish sauce.

Turn the heat down slightly and allow to cook until the veggies are done al dente.

Add the basil and, just before serving, destalk the coriander and add to the dish.

Serve with steamed basmati rice.

Here’s another way to put the marinaded chicken to excellent use and it takes minutes to make.

Stir fried chicken with litchis and cashew nuts

While the Vietnamese use a lot of peanuts to add crunch and extra flavour to their dishes,, the combination of roasted cashews and litchis in this sweet sour dish is delicious.


Marinated chicken as above

80g roasted cashews

1 tin litchis

1 pkt baby spinach

1 chilli, deseed and sliced thinly


Wash the baby spinach, cutting off any long stalks and allow to drain in a colander. Drain the tin of litchis and reserve the liquid from the tin

Cook the chicken as above.

Add in the litchis and a splash of the litchi juice (keep the rest to add in a smoothie).

Put in the baby spinach and cook for a few seconds without allowing it to go limp. Add the chilli, basil and coriander as above and cook for a few more seconds.

Top with the cashews and serve immediately.

This dish goes really well with rice noodles.