Stir-Fried Chicken With Red Onion and Basil

2 to 4 servings

"Serve hot": These words often appear at the end of recipes.

But some dishes benefit from a few moments off the heat. This allows the ingredients to meld with one another.

This is one of those dishes. Taste the difference for yourself. Adapted from "Quick & Easy Thai" by Nancie McDermott (Chronicle, 2004):

1 cup tightly packed fresh holy basil, Asian basil or Italian basil leaves

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon coarsely chopped garlic

1 large red onion, cut into 1-inch chunks or wide half-moons

3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken, cut into bite-size pieces

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 tablespoons water

2 teaspoons sugar

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh green chili peppers, such as Thai, serrano or jalapeno (optional)

Cut the basil into chiffonade or tear it into pieces. Set aside.

In a wok or large, deep skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the garlic and onion and toss to coat. Add the chicken and stir-fry until golden on all sides but not cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Add the fish sauce, soy sauce, water and sugar and cook, uncovered, tossing now and then, just until the chicken is cooked through and a thin, smooth sauce forms, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chili peppers and basil and toss well. Remove from the heat; set aside to allow the flavors to mingle for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve warm, not hot.

Per serving (based on 4): 183 calories, 14 gm protein, 7 gm carbohydrates, 11 gm fat, 32 mg cholesterol, 1 gm saturated fat, 883 mg sodium, 1 gm dietary fiber

-- Renee Schettler


"Literally translated, this French phrase means 'made of rags.' Culinarily, it refers to thin strips or shreds of vegetables (classically, sorrel and lettuce), either lightly sauteed or used raw to garnish soups."

-- Excerpted from "The New Food Lover's Companion,"

by Sharon Tyler Herbst

(Barron's, 1995)

To create chiffonade, stack several leaves on top of one another, roll them tightly into a cigar shape, then use a sharp knife to thinly slice the roll. The leaves will unfurl as you slice them (pictured at right). Gradually move your fingers away from the knife as you slice farther down the roll.

Chiffonade usually refers to cutting into thin strips, whereas the term "julienne" refers to matchstick-size sticks.

Book Report

* Candy Freak, Steve Almond

Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, $21.95

Steve Almond cheerfully admits he's addicted to candy. He even marks the major events in his life by the candy he craved at the time, from the discontinued Caravelle bar he yearned for in high school to the Lindt bars he ate one lost and lonely night in Germany. In fact, to get him to shut up about candy, his friends begged him to write about it instead, he says. So he did. The result is a highly entertaining, sugar-high ride through both his life and the forgotten candies of America -- Big Hunks to Goo Goo Clusters to Valomilks to Idaho Spuds. He visits old factories and interviews candy makers who are as passionate -- and quirky -- about their confections as he is.

-- Candy Sagon

Pretty Slick

What may look like vintage grasscloth wallpaper is actually a slick baking accessory.

The Ovenliner by Chef's Planet is designed to fit either a large toaster oven or a standard 30-inch oven, but can be trimmed to fit. It's a catch-all for crumbs or otherwise horrid spills. And it's dishwasher safe.

The Ovenliner ($15 to $25) is available at Strosniders (6930 Arlington Rd., Bethesda; 301-301-654-5688); Fischer's Hardware (6129 Backlick Rd., Springfield; 703-451-3700) and the Happy Cook (1045 Emmet St., Barracks Road Shopping Center, Charlottesville, Va.; 434-977-2665) For more information or by mail-order, see www.chefsplanet.com.

As If We Needed A Reason

It's nice to see so many snack foods removing trans fats from their lists of ingredients. Still, in doing so, some of them have undergone subtle taste changes. But we're obliged to report that the recently revised trans-fat-free Triscuit is as good as ever: plain, covered with cheese, smeared with peanut butter, we could eat the whole box.

Trans-fat-free Triscuits (about $3.19 per box) are available at some markets. Check the ingredient list; if the words "partially hydrogenated" do not appear, then the Triscuits are




Looking for Marshmallow Fluff, Screaming Yellow Zonkers or other snack food from your past? Now some of the nostalgic and regional foods at www.hometownfavorites.com are also available through www.amazon.com, a move that the small Virginia Beach company made to attract a wider audience. About 200 Hometown Favorites items are featured, with the rest of its 2,000-product inventory to be added gradually. She Said It

Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands -- and then eat just one of the pieces.

-- Judith Viorst



Today's Tip

Never place a nonstick skillet over high heat. This will ruin the nonstick coating.

To Do

WEDNESDAY: 30-Minute Meals -- cooking class at Whole Foods Market. Free. 6-7 p.m. 316 Kentlands Blvd., Gaithersburg. Call 301-258-9500.

SATURDAY: Book signing -- William Echikson, author of "Noble Rot: A Bordeaux Wine Revolution." Free. 3:30-6:30 p.m. Calvert-Woodley Wines & Spirits, 4339 Connecticut Ave. NW. Call 202-966-4400.

MONDAY: Thai cooking demonstration, lecture and dinner with cookbook authors Alexandra Greeley and Nongkran Daks. Sponsored by the Asia Society. $45 for nonmembers. 7 p.m. Bangkok Garden, 4906 St. Elmo Ave., Bethesda. Call 202-833-2742 or see www.asiasociety.org/events/

TUESDAY: Discussion with "Super Chefs: The Making of the Great Modern Restaurant Empires" author Juliette Rossant at Olsson's Books and Music. Free. 7 p.m. Lansburgh/Penn Quarter, 418 Seventh St. NW. Call 202-638-7610.


MAY 26: A Taste of Africa -- cooking class at Whole Foods Market. Free. 7 p.m. 1440 P St. NW. Call 202-332-4300.

JUNE 1: Wine dinner at 15 Ria to benefit the Washington Youth Garden at the National Arboretum. Sponsored by Slow Food DC. $65 for nonmembers includes tax and tip. 1515 Rhode Island Ave. NW. Call 202-426-0176.

JUNE 10 and 17: Two-session food sanitation course for restaurant food managers or others in food handling. $104 includes text, examination and certification. 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Loudoun County Extension Office, 30 B Catoctin Circle SE. Leesburg. Call 703-777-0373.

PLEASE NOTE: Space limitations sometimes prevent Food from publishing all submissions. Send notices -- including organization name, date, cost, time, address and phone number -- to: To Do, Food, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington D.C. 20071 or food@ washpost.com. Submissions must be received at least 14 days prior to publication date.