Pad Phet Gai: A Spicy Thai Chicken Recipe, Storage, and Reheating Guide

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Written By Hot Thai Restaurant

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We’re diving into the vibrant world of Thai cuisine with a dish that’s sure to ignite your taste buds: Pad Phet Gai. This spicy chicken stir-fry is a testament to the balance of flavors that Thai cooking is renowned for, blending the heat of chili with the aromatic depth of galangal, lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaves. It’s not just a meal; it’s an adventure for your palate.

Originating from the lush landscapes of Thailand, Pad Phet Gai is a favorite among those who love their food with a bit of a kick. Whether you’ve been a long-time lover of Thai food or you’re just starting to explore, this dish offers a perfect glimpse into the rich culinary traditions of the country. So, let’s grab our woks and journey together into the heart of Thai cuisine with this fiery, flavor-packed recipe.

Ingredients

Embark on a culinary adventure with us as we gather the ingredients for our Pad Phet Gai, ensuring each element melds perfectly for a dish that’s both spicy and aromatic.

For the Chicken Marinade

  • 1 lb chicken thighs, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

For the Pad Phet Paste

  • 10 dried red chilies, seeds removed and soaked in warm water to soften
  • 1 shallot, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch piece of galangal, sliced
  • 3 stalks lemongrass, tender parts only, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon shrimp paste
  • ½ teaspoon salt

For the Stir Fry

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Pad Phet paste (from above)
  • Marinated chicken (from above)
  • ½ cup chicken stock or water
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, torn into pieces (optional but recommended)
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon sugar, or to taste
  • Fresh Thai basil leaves
  • Fresh Thai basil leaves
  • Sliced red chilies
  • Lime wedges

Gather these ingredients, and let’s dive into creating a dish that’s not only a feast for the palate but also for the eyes, showcasing the best of Thai flavors and aromas.

Equipment Needed

To embark on this culinary journey and bring the vibrant flavors of Pad Phet Gai to life, having the right equipment is crucial. Let’s ensure our kitchen is equipped with everything needed to craft this spicy chicken stir-fry seamlessly.

Cutting Board and Knife

First things first, you’ll need a sturdy cutting board and a sharp knife. Preparing the ingredients involves chopping chicken, dicing vegetables, and mincing herbs like lemongrass, galangal, and red chilies. A sharp knife will make these tasks quicker and safer, ensuring precise cuts that will cook evenly.

Blender or Food Processor

To create the aromatic Pad Phet paste, a blender or food processor is indispensable. This equipment will help you blend the red chilies, galangal, lemongrass, and other ingredients into a smooth paste. This paste is the heart of the dish, infusing it with its characteristic flavors and fiery heat.

Wok

A traditional wok is ideal for stir-frying, ensuring that the chicken and vegetables are cooked evenly at a high heat. The wok’s shape allows for exceptional heat distribution, making it easier to sauté and toss your ingredients. If you don’t have a wok, a large, deep frying pan can serve as an alternative.

Stirring Utensil

You’ll need a sturdy spoon or spatula for stirring. It’s vital to stir the ingredients frequently to prevent them from sticking to the wok and to ensure that they’re evenly cooked. A wooden spoon or a heat-resistant silicone spatula works best for this task.

Measuring Cups and Spoons

Accuracy is key when it comes to the flavors of Pad Phet Gai. Measuring cups and spoons will help you add the precise amount of seasoning and ingredients, ensuring the perfect balance of flavors. This includes the chicken marinade and the seasonings that season the dish to perfection.

Serving Dish

Once your Pad Phet Gai is beautifully cooked, you’ll want a serving dish to present it. Choose a dish that complements the vibrant colors of the peppers and the rich hue of the sauce. A lovely serving dish will enhance the visual appeal, making it even more inviting.

Gathering these tools before starting the cooking process will streamline your preparation, making the experience enjoyable and fuss-free. With everything in place, you’re now ready to delve into the art of crafting this tantalizing Thai dish.

Preparation

Before we dive into the fiery and flavorful world of Pad Phet Gai, let’s get everything prepped for a smooth cooking journey. Having all ingredients ready and space organized clears the way for creating this spicy, aromatic stir-fry effortlessly.

Marinating the Chicken

First up, we marinate our chicken to infuse it with flavor and ensure it’s juicy and tender. Here’s how:

  • 1 pound of chicken breast or thighs, thinly sliced across the grain to ensure quick cooking and maximum flavor absorption.
  • In a bowl, mix:
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce for umami,
  • 2 teaspoons of fish sauce for that quintessential Thai savor,
  • 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce for a hint of sweetness and depth,
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar to balance the flavors, and
  • A pinch of white pepper for a subtle kick.
  • Coat the chicken slices thoroughly with the marinade.
  • Let them sit for at least 30 minutes or, if time allows, marinate them in the fridge for a couple of hours. This step ensures the chicken not only absorbs the marvelous flavors but also acquires a tender texture that’ll be a delight with every bite.

Making the Pad Phet Paste

The soul of Pad Phet Gai lies in its potent paste. Here’s how to whip it up:

  • Gather red chilies, galangal, lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaves for a truly vibrant paste. We’ll need about 4 dried red chilies (soaked in water to soften), 1 inch of galangal (roughly chopped), 2 stalks of lemongrass (tender parts only, minced), and 4 kaffir lime leaves (de-stemmed and thinly sliced).
  • Add these to a blender or food processor along with 2 cloves of garlic and 2 shallots for added pungency and depth.
  • Blitz until you achieve a fine, aromatic paste. If it’s too dry, add a little water to help it along. This paste is what will give our dish its signature heat and rich flavor profile.

Prepping Vegetables

A good stir-fry boasts a variety of textures and colors, so let’s prep our veggies:

  • 1 red bell pepper and 1 green bell pepper, both deseeded and sliced into strips. These not only add a sweet crunch but also a vibrant contrast to the dish.
  • A handful of Thai basil leaves – if you can find them. They’ll add a fresh, herbaceous aroma and lift the dish with their unique anise-like flavor.
  • Have these veggies sliced and ready to toss into the wok. Their crisp textures and bright flavors will beautifully complement the spicy, tender chicken.

Cooking Instructions

Now that we’ve prepared all our components, it’s time to bring our Pad Phet Gai to life. Let’s dive into the art of stir-frying, ensuring every bite is bursting with the vibrant flavors of Thailand.

Cooking the Chicken

First up, heat a tablespoon of oil in your wok over medium-high heat until it’s shimmering but not smoking. We’ll add our marinated chicken in a single layer, allowing it to sear without stirring for about 1-2 minutes. This creates that beautiful, flavorful crust we’re after. Then, give it a good stir and cook for another 2-3 minutes or until the chicken is nearly cooked through but still juicy. Remember, it will cook further when we add it back to the stir-fry, so err on the side of slightly underdone. Once done, transfer the chicken to a plate and set it aside.

Preparing the Stir Fry Base

In the same wok, add a bit more oil if needed and lower the heat to medium. Toss in your prepared Pad Phet paste, stirring constantly to avoid burning. After about 1 minute or once it starts to smell heavenly, add the bell peppers and any other vegetables you’ve chosen. Stir-fry these for about 3-4 minutes. You want the veggies to soften slightly but retain some crunch for texture. If things look a little dry, don’t hesitate to add a splash of water or chicken broth to keep everything moving smoothly.

Combining Ingredients

Bring the chicken back to the wok, along with any juices collected on the plate. Here’s where the magic happens. Toss everything together vigorously for another 1-2 minutes, ensuring the chicken finishes cooking and soaks up all the flavors. This is a good time to add your Thai basil leaves, giving them a quick stir to wilt beautifully into the mix. Lastly, adjust the seasoning with a bit of fish sauce or soy sauce and a sprinkle of sugar if desired. This enhances the depth of flavors.

Once beautifully combined and the chicken is thoroughly cooked, it’s ready to serve. Plate your Pad Phet Gai hot, ideally over a bed of jasmine rice to capture all the delicious sauce. Enjoy the burst of flavors with each bite, knowing you’ve cooked up a truly authentic Thai delight.

Assemble

Now that our ingredients have beautifully come together in a melody of flavors, it’s time to give our Pad Phet Gai the final touches before plating. Let’s dive into these last but crucial steps to ensure our dish sings with authenticity and taste.

Final Touches

Here’s where the magic happens! After ensuring the chicken is perfectly cooked and the vegetables are tender yet crisp, we introduce the crown jewel of our dish – the Thai basil leaves. Add these aromatic leaves to the wok, stirring gently to incorporate. The heat from the dish will wilt the basil, releasing its unique flavor, which is quintessential to Pad Phet Gai. Now, give your creation a quick taste. If needed, adjust the seasoning with a bit more fish sauce or a sprinkle of sugar for that perfect balance of flavors. Remember, the goal is to achieve a harmonious blend of spiciness, saltiness, sweetness, and a touch of sourness.

Plating the Pad Phet Gai

With our Pad Phet Gai now ready, it’s time to plate this vibrant dish. Scoop a generous serving of fluffy jasmine rice onto each plate. Then, carefully ladle the Pad Phet Gai beside it, making sure each serving has an ample amount of chicken, vegetables, and sauce. The steamy, fragrant rice paired with the colorful, spice-infused chicken creates not only a feast for the taste buds but also a visual delight. The bright greens of the basil, the pop of red from the bell peppers, and the golden hue of the chicken come together in a beautiful display.

For those who love extra heat, a side of Thai chilis can accompany the dish, allowing guests to customize the spice level to their liking. Serve immediately, while everything is still piping hot, to fully enjoy the explosion of flavors that Pad Phet Gai has to offer.

Serving Suggestions

After crafting a vibrant plate of Pad Phet Gai, the final step is to turn this aromatic ensemble into a feast for the senses. Here’s how we love to serve this spicy, savory dish to ensure each bite is as delightful as the last.

On a Bed of Jasmine Rice

The subtle sweetness and soft texture of jasmine rice make it the perfect base for Pad Phet Gai. Scoop a generous amount of rice onto each plate, creating a fluffy bed that will soak up the rich, flavorful sauce of the stir-fry. The rice not only complements the spiciness of the dish but also adds a comforting element to the meal.

With a Side of Thai Cucumbers

To balance the heat of Pad Phet Gai, we recommend serving it with a side of Thai cucumber salad. The crispness and slight sweetness of the cucumbers provide a cooling contrast, enhancing the overall dining experience. Simply slice cucumbers thin, toss them with a bit of vinegar, sugar, and salt, and sprinkle with chopped cilantro for a quick, refreshing side.

Extra Thai Basil and Lime Wedges

Place a small bowl of freshly plucked Thai basil leaves on the table, allowing guests to garnish their plate as desired. The basil adds a burst of freshness and contributes to the complex flavor profile of the dish. Additionally, serve with lime wedges to squeeze over the top. The citrus not only brightens the dish but also helps tame the heat, allowing all the flavors to shine through beautifully.

For the Heat Seekers

For those who love an extra kick, offer a small bowl of finely chopped Thai chilis on the side. This lets everyone customize the heat level to their liking, ensuring the perfect spicy bite for the chili enthusiasts. Remember, a little goes a long way with these powerful peppers!

Storage and Reheating

After enjoying the vibrant flavors of Pad Phet Gai, it’s likely you’ll have some leftovers. Don’t let them go to waste! Storing and reheating this dish properly can ensure it remains just as delicious as when it was first served. Here’s how we recommend you handle the leftovers.

Storing Leftovers

  1. Cool Down: Allow the Pad Phet Gai to cool to room temperature before storing. However, don’t leave it out for longer than 2 hours to avoid bacterial growth.
  2. Airtight Containers: Transfer the leftovers into airtight containers. This helps preserve the flavors and prevents the dish from absorbing any odors from the refrigerator.
  3. Refrigeration: Once sealed, place the containers in the refrigerator. Properly stored, the Pad Phet Gai will last for up to 3 days.

Reheating Pad Phet Gai

To enjoy your Pad Phet Gai as if it’s fresh from the wok, follow these reheating tips:

  1. Stovetop Method: Reheating on the stovetop is the best method to retain the dish’s texture and flavor. Simply add a tablespoon of water or chicken broth to the stir-fry in a pan over medium heat. Stir frequently until the dish is heated through, about 5-7 minutes.
  2. Microwave Method: If you’re short on time, the microwave is a convenient option. Place a portion of Pad Phet Gai in a microwave-safe dish, add a splash of water to prevent drying out, and cover with a microwave-safe lid or plastic wrap. Heat on medium power in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until thoroughly warmed. This method should take about 1-2 minutes depending on your microwave.

Remember, reheating food more than once significantly reduces its quality. Plan your portions accordingly to enjoy the full symphony of flavors that Pad Phet Gai offers.

Conclusion

We’ve walked through the vibrant journey of creating Pad Phet Gai, from marinating to the final stir-fry. Remembering to store leftovers properly ensures we can savor this delightful dish even on a busy weekday. Whether it’s your first time cooking Thai or you’re a seasoned pro, we hope you find joy and spice in every bite. Let’s keep the essence of Pad Phet Gai alive in our kitchens by sharing it with those we love. Here’s to many more flavorful adventures together!

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