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Shrimps with Lemongrass and Basil

Cuisine: Thai

A classic dish and recipe from Thailand, Shrimps with Lemongrass and Basil is a healthy dish containing no less than 14 ingredients.

As a main dish with rice : Serves 2
As part of a multi-course meal: Serves 4
Cooking time: approx. 30 min
You will need: a wok or skillet
Notes: contains sugar


  • 10 oz (330 g) medium-sized shrimp, peeled and de-veined
  • 1⁄2 Tsp dark sesame oil
  • 1⁄2 Tsp all-purpose corn starch (preferably organic)
  • Pinch of white pepper
  • 2 Tbsp high-heat cooking oil, divided
  • 4 Tbsp minced lemongrass
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 fresh hot red or green chili, preferably Thai (deseeded if you prefer less heat), finely sliced
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced (optional)
  • 1 Tsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tsp fish sauce (nam pla)
  • 1 + 1⁄2 Tsp sugar
  • 1 cup (20 g) fresh Thai or Italian basil leaves


  1. Toss the shrimp with the sesame oil, all-purpose corn starch, and pepper in a small bowl.
  2. Cover and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
  3. Heat 1⁄2 of the oil in a wok or skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Add the shrimp and stir-fry until the shrimp turns pink. Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside.
  5. Wash and thoroughly dry the wok or skillet.
  6. Heat the remaining oil in the wok or skillet over medium-high heat.
  7. Add the lemongrass, garlic, shallots and chillies, stir-fry until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  8. Add the reserved shrimp, kaffir lime leaves (if using), soy sauce, fish sauce, and sugar; stir-fry for 2 minutes or until shrimp is cooked through.
  9. Add the basil leaves and stir-fry for about 30 seconds or until basil is wilted.
  10. Dish out and serve immediately with jasmine rice.

Notes on Shrimps with Lemongrass and Basil

Fish Sauce (Nam Pla)

  • Thai kitchen is incomplete without a bottle of fish sauce, and that goes for every kitchen throughout Southeast Asia. Fish sauces range from mild to strong and smoky to pungent; the best ones ones are clear and light in color. Fish sauce is made from layering anchovies and salt in a sealed container for about six months, until siphoning off the fermented liquid. the sauce’s fishy aroma dissipates when cooked and emboldens and brings together the other flavors in any dish. Fish sauce doesn’t need refrigeration and it will keep indefinitely in the cupboard.
  • As a general rule, 1 Tbsp of fish oil equals to 1 Tsp of salt. A good substitute is soy sauce mixed with a splash of oyster sauce or anchovy paste.

Shrimps with Lemongrass, and Basil: Nutritional and Scientific Analysis

by Anastasios Varvoglis,
Professor Emeritus of Organic Chemistry, University of Thessaloniki, Greece.


Shrimps with Lemongrass and Basil is a healthy dish, but the dish alone is not nutritious enough, lacking carbohydrates and containing little fat – that’s why it is accompanied by rice; bread lovers may prefer to substitute rice with bread. 

A. Shrimps

Shrimps contain a lot of water when raw (65%); their main ingredient is protein of good quality. Carbohydrates are non-existent and fat is minimal, but rich in omega-3 acids. Paradoxically, despite low fat, cholesterol is present in large quantities. On the good side, shrimps are rich in several micronutrients, especially trace elements such as selenium (ranks very high), copper, cobalt (in vitamin B12) and zinc. The red coloration of cooked shrimps is due to a valuable chemical, astaxanthin, which is present in small varying quantities, depending on the diet of shrimps. Astaxanthin is one of the best antioxidants belonging to the family of carotenoids.

B. Basil

Basil is used here in rather large quantities for a herb. Its main characteristic, apart from fibre and small amounts of protein and carbohydrates, is its essential oil, rich in several aromatic compounds. Due to their volatility, these compounds evaporate readily, that’s why basil leaves are added late in cooking. Several studies on the essential oil or individual compounds of basil have demonstrated antimicrobial, antiviral and anti-plate aggregating activity, among various other health beneficial properties.

Tip. Basil may be kept in the fridge for a few days or in the freezer for several weeks. Dried leaves are completely free of volatiles but they have a slight aroma reminding hay.

C. Lemongrass

Like basil, lemongrass is used here in relatively large amounts, but it is not important nutritionally. Its pleasant aroma is due mainly to two terpenic alcohols which are used as insect repellents.

D. Fish sauce (Nam Pla)

The Nam Pla sauce is a fermentation product of raw anchovies or other small fish layered in salt. The liquid obtained after storage for several months contains protein (up to 10%), iron, iodine, vitamins (among others also B12) and a lot of salt. As a general rule, 1 tablespoon of fish oil equals 1 teaspoon of salt. A substitute is soy sauce mixed with a splash of oyster sauce or anchovy paste.

E. Soy sauce

Soy Sauce comes in innumerable variations and is made from mixtures of boiled soybeans and wheat, after fermentation. It contains mainly protein (10%), carbohydrates (5%) and salt (14-18%). It does not contain isoflavones, in contrast to other soy products as Tofu.


More information about individual ingredients can also be found at:

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