Thai Beef Basil with Coconut Rice

Thai Beef Basil with Coconut Rice

February 17, 2011


One of my favorite things about Chris is going out to dinner with him. More specifically, going out for Thai food with him. Or Indian. Why? He always tells the waiter or waitress “make me cry!!” You see, he used to say “make it extra hot, please,” or “Thai-hot, please,” or “make it as hot as you possibly can, please.” But that never seemed to work. So, now he just tells them to make him cry. It still doesn’t always work, but it’s generally close enough.

I also like super spicy foods, though not to the point that I’m crying. And I absolutely love Thai food. A couple years ago I made my own Pad Thai, which was delicious (but not spicy). And now, I decided to tackle Beef Basil, which is Chris’s favorite. I was planning to go into it with the “make me cry” philosophy, but then I decided I wanted to enjoy it too… sans crying.

I used this Martha Stewart recipe as a basis, but made lots of changes. Especially since reviewers said it wasn’t very spicy. Cue the habaneros. What’s Thai beef basil if it doesn’t have a little kick, right?

Thai Beef Basil with Coconut Rice (serves 4):

• 1 1/4 C jasmine rice
• 1 can light coconut milk (13.5 oz.)
• 2 long chili peppers, chopped
• 3 habanero peppers, chopped
• 4 garlic cloves, chopped
• 2 T + 1 t fish sauce
• 2 T + 1 t soy sauce
• 1 t sugar
• 1 T vegetable oil
• 1 lb. lean ground sirloin
• 1.5 C loosely packed torn fresh basil leaves
• 2 small tomatoes, chopped
• 1 t crushed red pepper
• Lime wedges, for garnish


In a medium saucepan, combine the rice, coconut milk, 3/4 C water, and 1/2 t salt. Let the rice come to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cover. Let simmer until the water has been absorbed and the rice is nice and fluffy, about 25 minutes. And I still kind of want a rice cooker.


While your rice is cooking, chop your peppers and garlic. Now, you can use whatever kind of peppers you want here. Martha Stewart calls for long hot peppers or red jalapeno chilies. But she also takes all the seeds out of hers. The seeds are where the spice is! Therefore, I say keep them in. Or at least most of them.

I opted for 2 long chili peppers and 2 habanero peppers, seeds left in! Habaneros are very hot. The amount of peppers I used was perfect (for me). Not “make me cry” hot, but plenty spicy.


Next, combine the fish sauce, soy sauce, and sugar in a small bowl and set it aside. You should be able to find fish sauce at most grocery stores in the Asian section. It’s not the best smelling sauce ever, but it does add good flavor to the dish. If you can’t find it, I would simply use more soy sauce.


Now, heat a cast-iron skillet or wok over high, add the oil, and toss in the garlic and half the hot peppers. I love any excuse to use my wok! I don’t use it nearly enough and now I’m totally lusting after an XL wok!


Cook the garlic and peppers for about 15 seconds. Turn the heat down to medium-high and add the beef and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, for about 5 minutes.


Add soy mixture and cook for about 30 more seconds. Then add the basil and tomatoes and stir to combine. Add the rest of the peppers here too (saving a few for garnish if you want). I also sprinkled the crushed red pepper over the top for a little added heat. It should just take about 20-30 seconds for the basil to wilt a bit and the tomatoes to warm.


Look! The rice is done just in time (hehe).


Now serve the beef over the coconut rice with some chilies on top and lime wedges for garnish.


This was honestly one of the best dinners I’ve made in a long time! It was super-packed with flavor and totally satisfying. Chris said it tasted just like in a Thai restaurant… But better! It definitely wasn’t as greasy and because the sirloin was lean, it had a lighter taste to it.


The coconut jasmine rice was really good. But next time I might try it with brown rice just to healthify it a bit.

Yes, it was spicy! As in, I said “whoa!” the first bite I had. But it wasn’t so spicy that I cringed every time I took a bite. And no, Chris didn’t cry. But he actually claimed to really enjoy the spiciness level.

I LOVED the flavor of the fresh basil. I really think that’s the key to cooling the dish down a bit, too.


To be honest, it’s rare that I make recipes twice. I just love trying new things too much and unless a recipe is off-the-walls amazing, I probably won’t make it again for quite a while. This qualifies as off-the-walls amazing. Plus, it was quick and simple, so I won’t feel like I’m spending tons of time and money on something I’ve already done before. This is joining my sweet potato chili on my meal rotation.

And maybe next time, I’ll add a little bit of this in:


It’s Dave’s Insanity Ghost Pepper Sauce. And allegedly, it’s “face melting hot.” Which is way worse than “make me cry” hot I think. I bought a bottle of it for Chris for his birthday (yes, it comes in a coffin-like box with caution tape) and yes, it is the hottest sauce I’ve ever had in my life. Chris had a bowl of pasta with 6 drops in it and started to complain that his hearing was going weird. No, I don’t know what the point is; but there you have it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Chels and I actually attended the 2nd annual Chili Cup at Ned Devine’s tonight and had lots of wonderfully spicy awesome chili!

What kind of hot do you like? Are you a fan of “make me cry” hot? Or does just a little spice make you cry?


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21 Responses to "Thai Beef Basil with Coconut Rice"

  1. This is one of my all time favorite dishes and bring me some heat. Can’t wait to try this!

  2. Kerstin says:

    Mmm, thai food is one of our favorites too, although I usually can’t eat A’s since he likes it super spicy and I’m a wimp! This looks super tasty 🙂

  3. Meghan says:

    Holy crap this looks good. Must. Make. Soon.

  4. Erica says:

    haha “make me cry”- I love it! The recipe looks like it turned out great! At home takeout is always tasty (and usually better the next day after a good night in the fridge). I love a little kick, but usually actually shed tears when its at or close to make me cry status.

  5. I’m like Chris and LOVE super spicy food! My goal is to finish a plate of the Hell Pasta at ECG (it is on my 30 by 30 list)!

  6. I can’t possibly think of eating something that makes me cry! I like spicy hot, but not too killer. Chris is nuts!

  7. Shannon says:

    I have made this recipe in our house several times .. we omit the peppers for 1 tsp of red pepper flakes …. we’re a fan of spicy but not that much!

  8. Nicole says:

    I LOVE this recipe! I’ve made it a few times now and I love how flavorful it is and how dead simple it is to make.

    I’ve heard of the ghost chili from Man vs. Food. He’s tried a couple of heat challenges with that pepper and I don’t think I can go there. I like medium-hot, no crying for me, please 🙂

  9. Elizabeth says:

    Mmm, there’s a restaurant in NY called Rice and they have this excellent Thai beef salad on top of coconut rice. It’s Dave’s favorite. It’s more tangy than spicy.

  10. Monique says:

    wow wow wow. I seriously just want a bite.
    I like spicy foods. maybe my tolerance is low or maybe what i think is spicy really isnt… but things like pad key mao make me cry… lol but love thai basil chicken. so , go figure.

  11. I definitely want my foods super spicy!! I don’t eat Thai or Vietnamese food often because I’m allergic to fish sauce, but I do love the dishes with Thai basil. And chilis!

  12. Daisy says:

    I like some spice! But I think I’m sort of like you on the scale in the middle somewhere! I don’t want to cry or burn my tongue off, thats just not my idea of enjoying food! This dish sounds tasty, good work!

  13. i’m getting better with spice, but i do love STRONG flavors. our vegan thai place down the road has a ginger dinner that is AMAZING– and will clear your sinuses right quick!

  14. Chris says:

    Make me cry 🙂 – Just to be clear though it doesn’t actually make me cry. It’s just the only way I can be sure that they actually make it really spicy. Granted it might make others cry though 😉

    This was fantastic though – it wasn’t the extremely spicy – but the flavors were just amazing. Also using the ground beef was a nice touch.

    Sues is about to make some hot wings so I’ve gotta run. PS We’re going to use this sauce.

  15. Very nice! Interesting use of ground beef. It is hard to know what cut to use. We made a similar one with flank steak that worked out well.

  16. Sharlene says:

    That’s so funny that Chris tells the waitstaff to make him cry! We definitely don’t like our food THAT spicy but we adore Thai food so this will be on my to-do list but I’ll tone down the spice a bit.

  17. Bizzy says:

    I am printing this up to make, as soon as possible. This looks absolutely delicious.

  18. Pam says:

    So many great textures and flavors in this dish.

  19. That hot sauce looks insane?!! I am not a spicy food girl, I already don’t understand how people could possibly think torture tastes good so THIS whole thing just blows my mind lol

  20. I once heard someone say “make it like your mom would” to a Thai woman. I could feel the heat coming off his meal when they brought it out!

  21. Molly says:

    I made this last night, it was delicious! We used about 5 thai chili peppers and one red-bell pepper and it was delightfully spicy and not too hot. The rice smelled incredible, I could make that every day. Mmmm

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