As I've mentioned before, one of my favorite Thai dishes is pad kee mao talay, a spicy noodle dish with lots of Thai basil. My attempt at making Drunken Noodles and hoping they would be reasonably similar turned out tasty, but not quite right. So when we went to Han Ah Reum the other day, I looked extra hard for a jar of Maesri Chilli Paste with Sweet Basil Leaves. And there it was, near the seafood department (no wonder I couldn't find it before). I had bought this stuff some years ago and loved it so much, I put it in just about everything - soup, pasta sauce, tuna salad - anything in which I wanted an extra jolt of bold flavor.
Also at Han Ah Reum, we picked up a slab of fresh rice noodles, two bunches of Chinese broccoli, cilantro, and scallions, among many other things. Since our Thai basil plant was a bit out of control, I thought I'd try another basil and noodle concoction, this time using the Maesri paste.
We had extra firm tofu in the fridge, so I rinsed and drained it and put it between several thicknesses of paper towels to drain all afternoon. I then cut it into small cubes and browned them in a hot pan with a bit of canola oil until crispy on all sides. I chopped one bunch of Chinese broccoli into small bits and gave it a quick steaming until it was no longer raw. After cutting them into ribbons, I put the noodles into a pan with a tablespoon of water to soften, then added the broccoli and tofu, plus the white parts of 5 scallions. Over this I poured a mixture of 1 tablespoon of chili basil paste, 2 tablespoons of fish sauce, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and 1 tablespoon of rice wine vinegar. After stirring well, I put in two good handfuls of fresh Thai basil and let the mixture heat through until the basil was wilted and the broccoli was tender. Garnished with chopped cilantro, the green part of the scallions I cut up earlier, and some roasted peanuts, this was a terrific dinner that had very much the flavor of pad kee mao talay.
Now I'll have to remember what other interesting things I did with the Thai basil paste....