This recipe was born simply out of the terrible, terrible problem that I had a big bunch of Thai basil that I picked up at the farmers market. The best kind of problem to have. I had never cooked with Thai basil before, so I wasn't sure if it was interchangeable with "regular" basil. What I recommend when you buy an unfamiliar food is that before you decide to cook with it, you taste it raw to see how you like it. This is the perfect way to capture its flavors.
Thai basil is even sweeter than a Genovese basil common in the United States. It has gorgeous purple stems and more slender leaves. Its flavor is similar so I would say you could interchange the two. In order to get your hands on Thai basil, you will likely have to visit an Asian farmer at the market, find a well-stocked Asian grocer or grow it yourself.
I decided to keep to the Thai theme and I made a Thai chicken pizza. I wanted to keep it really simple, so I mixed cooked, shredded chicken with an authentic Thai peanut sauce for the base of the pizza. Then I topped the cooked pizza with a mix of herbs, including Thai basil, cilantro and garlic chives and some sesame seeds. Of course, this is customizeable, so feel free to add cheese or use a different combination of herbs. Yes, there are components to this dish, but it is seriously easy and pretty impressive- it would be perfect for guests or date night.
For the crust: (feel free to pick up pizza dough from a local pizzeria or Trader Joe's)
1/2 cup warm water
1 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (feel free to use some whole wheat or experiment with gluten-free flours)
1 tsp. kosher salt
olive oil, for coating the bowl & pizza pan
Warm oven to 200 F for about 5 minutes. Combine yeast and water (warm, NOT hot) in a large bowl. Let sit for a few minutes, then add the flour first, then salt. Stir with a rubber spatula to combine into a shaggy dough. Remove to a lightly floured work surface and knead until the dough comes together in a nice smooth ball. You may need to add more flour if it feels wet or up to a Tablespoon more water if it feels too dry. Now, turn off your oven. Oil an oven-safe bowl (I use glass) and add the dough, turning to coat. Cover with either plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel. Let pizza dough rise in oven for 30 minutes, give or take.
For the Thai Peanut Sauce: (this will make way more than one pizza's worth - keep it in your fridge for more pizzas or to use in other dishes)
one 13.5 oz. can coconut milk
1/4 cup Thai red curry paste (found in the Asian section of any supermarket)
3/4 cup natural peanut butter (it really should be the natural, unsweetened kind)
1/2 Tbsp. kosher salt
3/4 cup sugar (I use Trader Joe's organic evaporated cane juice)
2 Tbsp. white vinegar
1/2 cup water
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat, whisking constantly, for a few minutes. Then reduce heat to low and let simmer for 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool if necessary.
For the Thai Chicken pizza:
pizza dough (recipe above)
Thai peanut sauce (recipe above)
1-2 chicken breasts, preferably organic (I only made half of my pizza Thai chicken so I used one small breast), cooked and shredded (I simply boiled mine until cooked through, then shredded with 2 forks)
1/2 - 1 cup mixed herbs (garlic chives, cilantro, Thai basil)
sesame seeds, for garnish
Preheat oven to 425 F. Lightly coat a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil.
Using your hands, gently spread the pizza dough all over the pizza pan. The pizza dough should be able to fill the whole pan - just keep working it and be gentle. You can easily repair any tears.
In a small bowl, add enough Thai peanut sauce to coat your shredded chicken. Now, spread the chicken all over your pizza (or in the areas you want it). Drizzle more Thai peanut sauce over the chicken until you are happy with the amount.
Bake the pizza for 10-12 minutes until the crust is lightly browned.
Remove the pizza from the pan (it should slide right out) and finish off with your fresh herbs and sesame seeds. Eat! Enjoy! Feel free to drizzle on some Sriracha for a little extra kick.