Thai cooks usually use holy basil in this quick and easy dish, which originated hundreds of years ago. Sweet basil is easier to find in the United States and is a good substitute. Chicken or shrimp can be used instead of beef. This salad is spicy, with tender meat and crunchy vegetables.

Stir-Fried Meat with Basil

3 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 lb. beef sirloin tip, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 medium onion, peeled and sliced
1/2 c. sliced fresh mushrooms, or 1 3-oz. can sliced mushrooms, drained
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and cut into quarters
1 tbsp. fish sauce
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 to 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves*

1. In a large skillet or wok, heat 2 tbsp. oil over high heat for 1 minute. Add meat and cook over high heat, stirring constantly, until beef begins to turn brown. Place meat in a bowl and set aside.

2. Wash skillet or wok and dry thoroughly.

3. Heat remaining oil in skillet or wok over high heat for 1 minute. Add garlic, onion, mushrooms, and peppers and stir well. Cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute, or until mushrooms and peppers are soft.

4. Add meat, fish sauce, and sugar and stir well. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat for 2 minutes, or until heated through.

5. Add basil, stir-fry just until leaves wilt (about 10 seconds).

6. Serve hot over rice.

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Serves 4

* If fresh basil is not available, use 1 tbsp. dried basil leaves plus 1/2c. chopped fresh parsley.