Thai Basil Beef

Serves: 4

Looking back on it, every blog here that is mince based, starts with something like: mince is the best, mince is our favourite, mince is our last meal, etc.

Because its true.

Any which way, we love it and Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai minces are up there as our favourite weeknight meals.

You’ve been at work, it’s raining, it’s on Monday and yet… you’re having spicy mince for dinner!

This Thai Basil Mince is super easy and you can’t overdo it on the basil front.

It is also healthy, even if you do have it with a cup of boiled Jasmine rice which… because it is Monday… you should.



1 tbsp sunflower oil
500gm ground beef mince
2 shallots, diced
1 red capsicum, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 birds eye chillies, thinly sliced
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp palm sugar (or brown sugar)
1 lime, juice and zest
1 cup basil (Thai basil if you can)
2 spring onions, thinly sliced, to garnish
Chopped peanuts and crispy fried shallots to garnish
Jasmine rice to serve


  1. Heat the oil over a medium-high heat in a heavy saucepan or wok and cook the beef mince and shallots until the meat is cooked and browning; about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the capsicum, garlic and chillies and cook until fragrant; another 2 – 3 minutes
  3. Add the fish sauce, sugar, lime and basil and cook until the basil starts to wilt; about a minute. Taste test to make sure the balance of salty, sweet and sour is right.
  4. Garnish with the sliced spring onions, chopped peanuts and fried shallots. Serve with rice.

Thai-style Chicken Meatballs in Broth

Serves: 4
Another simple, successful, David Herbert weekday number… healthy too.

Keep the calories for the weekend.


  • 500gm chicken mince
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, shredded
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 small chilli chopped
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, tough outer leaves discarded, soft inner core finely chopped
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • Vegetable oil

For the broth

  • 1.5 ltr chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 100gm thin egg or rice noodles
  • 4 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp chopped Thai basil
  • Soy sauce to taste

To garnish

  • 1 small red chilli, sliced
  • Coriander and mint leaves
  • Lime wedges


  1. For the broth: bring the stock to the boil and add the fish sauce, star anise and ginger and gently simmer for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the meatball ingredients; season and shape into walnut-sized balls.
  3. Heat a little vegetable oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and fry the meatballs for 5 minutes until golden brown. When they are almost cooked, add the noodles to the broth and cook for one minute and then add the spring onions, Thai basil, soy sauce and meatballs. Simmer for 2 – 3 minutes.
  4. Garnish with chilli, herbs and lime wedges.

Pad ka prao (minced pork, fried egg and rice)

Serves: 2

Read the ingredients and don’t over think it.

This is Monday done: street-style Thai.


1 tbsp sunflower oil
500gm pork mince
3 cloves garlic
3 birds eye chillies
1 small brown onion
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp kecap manis
1 tbsp oyster sauce
5 sprigs Thai basil leaves
2 eggs
Jasmine rice to serve


  1. Cook the rice and set aside.
  2. De-seed the chillies and finely chop with the garlic and onion.
  3. Heat the oil in a medium-hot wok and fry the garlic, chillies and onion for 2 minutes. Add the pork and break up, working through until almost cooked through.
  4. Meanwhile, in a separate pan, fry the eggs until they have a slightly crispy base.
  5. Back to the pork, add the fish sauce, soy sauce, kecap manis and oyster sauce and stir through; reduce the sauces slightly and add the basil leaves. Stir and remove from the heat.
  6. Serve on rice with the fried egg on top.

Red Thai Salmon Curry

Serves: 4

This is a doozy of a recipe and one that could easily become a weekday staple.

Just make sure you visit your local Asian grocer for a quality, Thai red curry paste.

I added the vermicelli noodles though you could just as easily serve it on rice.

Seriously, as simple as it is, this is one moorish dish.

Don’t delay.


1 tsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp Thai red curry paste
1 onion, sliced
250ml reduced-fat coconut milk
500gm skinless salmon fillet, cut into 3cm pieces
200gm pack trimmed green bean
Half a pack of vermicelli noodles, cooked
Coriander leaves


  1. Heat the oil in a large pan and then add the curry paste. Cook for a minute or two until fragrant.
  2. Add the onion and cook gently until softened; 5 – 10 minutes. Pour in the coconut milk and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and then add the salmon and beans.
  3. Add the vermicelli noodles (if using) and let simmer for 5 minutes or until the fish flakes easily and the beans are tender.
  4. Serve with coriander.

Pad si-iew prawns

Serves: 4

We are currently on a wonderful holiday in Koh Samui.

As you would expect, pretty much everything is planned around and hinged on food; and a few stops into a local tailor who is expertly – and inexpensively – working me up two suits.

We had one of the best pizzas either of us had ever had at a place near Bophut called Dr Frogs: the thinnest Rome-style pizza ever, one with parma ham and mozzarella, the other with this incredible beef sauce, mozzarella, rosemary and parmesan called ‘Dr Frogs Evolution’.

We had a really memorable – and Italian again – meal at a place called Pepenero, where the chef added me to Facebook after the three of us swapped stories of pasta, cooking, wine and the good life. The guy was a genius and you really should try if you are ever in this part of Thailand: his pasta and love for the good life are just awesome.

In fact, whether it has been grungy Thai or an exquisite Beef Wellington (old school, right!) at The Larder, the food has been amazing.

The highlight however was today when we did a cooking school with Smiley Chef, a warm, simple and really authentic collection of cooks who start at the markets, cook in an outdoor kitchen and finish with plates of hot, spicy, beautiful Thai food.


We did four dishes; the four of us – Nat, myself and two ladies from Hong Kong and Vancouver respectively – chose a dish each and Pas si-iew being Nat’s go-to Thai noodle dish was her choice. She is no fool!

It was a classic, classic interpretation.

The fear when ordering from a new Thai restaurant in Sydney (and really anywhere) is how they will do – or not so well do – the Pad Thai and Pad si-iew. Stick to this recipe and you will have the most down-the-line, no questions asked version you could want.

This will definitely become one of our future staples.

(I have adapted the recipe to suit four people… just make sure you serve it hot!)


Sunflower oil
4 good handfuls of Pad si-iew noodle, fresh
8 stems of Chinese kale, cut into 4 cm pieces
8 baby corn, quartered
12 slices – thin – of carrot
8 clove garlic, chopped
4 eggs, beaten
12 prawns, peeled
Chilli flakes
White pepper
Lime slices


4 tbsp Oyster sauce
2 tbsp Soy sauce
2 tbsp Black Soy sauce
2 tbsp Light Soy sauce
2 tbsp Fish sauce
2 tbsp sugar (palm or coconut sugar if you have it)


  1. In a wok or frypan, heat two tbsp sunflower oil over a medium-high heat and fry the garlic for a minute or two. Add the chicken and when the chicken is cooked, add the egg, scrambling until cooked.
  2. Add the noodle, seasoning and the vegetables and stir fry over a high-heat for 1-2 minutes until the vegetables are cooked through.
  3. Serve on a plate with fresh lime, chilli flakes and a sprinkling of white pepper.

BBQ Thai Basil and Ginger Pork Chops (with Tomato Salad)

Serves: 4

There is this wonderful website (well, Instagram) I follow called What to Cook.

It is by a father/daughter team where he cooks really simple, fresh and fun food and she takes great photos of the food. They look like they have so much doing it and they are obviously eating well.

I have only cooked one of their recipes (this one) though I have a bunch more lined up. Its modern, bistro-quality food and during the week, that’s just fine.

I let this marinate for two nights before BBQing and together with the salad, a bottle of white we opened and my favourite travelling companion Nat, we had a perfect weeknight in.


4 large pork chops,
1 Thai chilli, finely diced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
½ c fresh thai basil leaves
Pinch of salt
Juice of 1 lime

Tomato salad

1 bunch butter lettuce, leaves torn
2 vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced
1 oxheart tomato, sliced
2 baby cucumbers, sliced
½ cup bean sprouts
¼ cup fresh mint leaves

Salad dressing

3 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp palm sugar, grated


  1. Place the chops in a dish, then add the chilli, ginger, garlic, salt Thai basil, lime juice, cover and marinate in the fridge for 2 hours (or as long as you want).
  2. Preheat your BBQ over a high heat. Once preheated, BBQ the chops until cooked and then cover with foil and rest for 5 miutes.
  3. To serve; assemble the salad on the plates and drizzle with the dressing. Add the chops and (in their words) “enjoy”!