Thai Stir Fry Turmeric Chicken
Turmeric Chicken, or Gai Phad Kh’min in Thai (ไก่ผัดขมิ้น), is a very popular dish in Southeast Asia. Many different cuisines have their own adaptation of this dish with the two main ingredients: chicken and turmeric. For the Thais in Southern Thailand, it is very popular to add lightly crushed garlic, sliced chilies, and fish sauce into the dish with finely pounded turmeric and tender stir-fried chicken.
Cooking is very fast, taking not more than 15 minutes, and the ingredients list is even shorter.
Thai Stir Fry Turmeric Chicken
For this recipe that serves 4, we will need chicken, minced or sliced thinly for the meat. Turmeric, basil leaves, red bird’s eye chilli for colour and spiciness, garlic for the herbs. Fish sauce, salt, and sugar for the seasonings.
First, season the chicken by marinating it with salt. I’ve minced some chicken breast meat beforehand with the skin on. This adds a little fat to the meat, which makes it tastier.
Next, lightly crush the garlic to get large pieces. This will give the turmeric chicken dish a nice earthy bite with each mouthful. Remove the chilli stems and halve them slantingly to really brighten up the dish. It will be mostly yellow, and the accentuated red tones make it appetizing. Feel free to remove the seeds for a less spicy dish.
Peel the turmeric with a knife or a spoon. As the turmeric stains very easily, immediately put it in a clean plastic bag. Lightly pound the turmeric with a pestle and mortar while it is still inside the bag. You want to do this because turmeric can stain the kitchen utensils permanently. Although it is harmless, I personally prefer retaining the original look of my utensils 🙂
Keep pounding the turmeric until it is finely crushed. Turn the plastic bag over to get to the other side as well. Once it’s done, set aside the turmeric. We will empty it out of the bag when it’s ready to be fried.
Stir-Frying the Turmeric Chicken
In a pan over medium heat, add in all the cooking oil and wait for it to heat up. I used a non-stick pan for this dish, however, a stainless steel pan will work as well. When the oil is hot, add in all the garlic, followed by half of the chilli and all of the turmeric. Cold oil has a higher tendency to be absorbed by the ingredients compared to hot oil, which can make or break the dish.
Continuously stir fry the herbs until soft and their aromas have been released. This is a sign that they have infused the oil with their essence, and are slightly cooked. It takes about 2 minutes.
Remove 3/4 of them from the pan as we don’t want to overcook them. Set the herbs aside for later. Now, add the chicken to the pan. Give a mix to spread the chicken evenly. This gives the chicken a chance to be fried with aromatic oil.
Add the sugar and fish sauce to the pan. Continuously stir the chicken for 3 minutes to ensure that the seasonings are well incorporated while the chicken is cooking. The sugar will mellow the tart and spicy taste of the turmeric and chilli, while the fish sauce imparts its fragrance to the dish. Make sure to flatten any clumps of chicken meat if using minced meat to properly and evenly cook it.
After 3 minutes, add in the water and stir again to evenly distribute it in the pan. Now, we are going to cover the pan and allow the chicken to simmer for about 5 minutes. This thoroughly cooks the chicken slowly and gently so that our turmeric chicken meat remains tender and juicy. In between, give it a stir so that it cooks evenly.
After 5 minutes, the chicken is well-cooked and the water has reduced to a small amount of gravy. Add in all the herbs we have set aside earlier, and all the basil leaves. Give the chicken and herbs a few stirs to mix them well, until the basil leaves have softened. Doing so allows the herbs to release their aromas once again, and the basil will also lend its fragrance to the dish.
Now, we can taste our Turmeric Chicken! Adjust accordingly to preference, giving a few turns to incorporate any additional ingredients at this stage. Once done, switch off the heat and serve immediately!
Time to Eat!
Stir Fry Turmeric Chicken is best eaten hot with fluffy white rice. The dish is as aromatic as it is flavourful. There’s a bite of garlic, turmeric and basil in each mouthful, followed by tender, moist minced chicken. The taste is just mildly spicy from the chillies, with hints of saltiness and umami from the fish sauce. Truly a delight with rice!
Thai Stir Fry Turmeric Chicken Recipe (Gai Phad Khamin)
- Non-Stick Frying Pan
- Silicone Turner
- Pestle & Mortar
- Chopping Board
- 450 g minced chicken, minced chicken breast
- 50 g basil leaves, fresh
- 40 g turmeric, fresh
- 20 g red bird's eye chilli
- 45 g garlic, peeled and crushed
- 3 tbsp cooking oil, odorless
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 50 ml water
Prepare the Ingredients
- Marinate chicken with salt until well-combined. Leave aside.
- Peel, wash, and crush garlic with the blade of the knife. Leave aside.
- Remove the chilli stems. Cut chillies slantingly into half. Leave aside.
- Remove skin from turmeric and give it a wash. Place in clean plastic bag, and pound in a mortar with pestle until fine. Leave aside.
Stir Frying Turmeric Chicken
- Add in cooking oil in the pan. Heat to medium heat.
- When the oil is hot, add in garlic, half of the chilli and all the turmeric.
- Stir fry for 2 minutes or until aromatic.
- Remove 3/4 of the herbs from the pan. Set aside.
- Add in the chicken. Stir to spread it evenly.
- Add in sugar and fish sauce. Stir for 3 minutes, breaking any clumps present.
- Add in all the water, stirring until well-combined.
- Add in all the chillies.
- Cover the pan. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Open the lid. Add in all the fried garlic, chilli, turmeric, and basil leaves. Stir for 30 seconds.
- Taste and adjust as preferred.
- Switch off the heat & serve!
- Best served immediately after cooked, with white rice.
- Can be kept at room temperature for not more than 12 hours, and in the fridge for not more than 2 days.