Sometimes I decide on a color for my food and I walk around my kitchen, grabbing anything that’s the right color. It works especially well for pasta and rice dishes, but pizza is pretty too. That’s what I did with my tofu stir-fry, after picking up some Thai basil.

I’d never cooked with Thai basil but had seen it in some spicy fried rice dishes, always fried to crispy goodness. I paid way too much for it, but such is the way when a certain ingredient catches your eye for the first time. It was in one of those tiny “I’m a special, exotic herb” clamshells at Whole Foods, but I’m sure I could get it for a dime at the Asian market.

Question of my idiocy aside (don’t feel obliged to comment, please), back to my color-coordinated food. Green and white…green and white…got it! Thai basil, zucchini, scallions (lots), bean sprouts, and fried tofu. And we always allow some red for chili-pastery/flakery.

For a two-process meal, this is still pretty quick and easy. I put a bit of oil in my wok and fried my pressed extra-firm tofu cubes, sporting my heaviest of aprons ’cause that stuff loves to spit. (If you’ve never fried tofu cubes before, let the experiment begin!) While the tofu was draining on a tea towel, I fried my whole rinsed-and-dried Thai basil leaves, which are also spitters.

After having a special friend help pour most of the hot oil out of the wok into a spare pan, I got the vegetables and chili paste into the wok on high heat. It doesn’t take long at all—save the green part of the scallions for the very end—then throw your tofu and basil in. Dump on top of rice.

So how Thai did our basil taste? Tom didn’t taste it at all, but it’s allergy season. I got a neat little nutty flavor out of it. I don’t know if it was worth the money, but it was pretty and fun. Fried parsley might taste the same, though, you know?

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