Shrimp & Sausage Stir-Fry With Wilted Basil

I ran across a recipe for Shrimp and Basil Stir-Fry in Bon Appetit magazine and decided to try it since it’s fairly low calorie depending on how much sugar you use to balance the heat. I liked it the first time and have since tinkered with it a bit. I thought I’d blog it so I have a record of my version.

Shrimp, Chicken, & Basil Stir-Fry


  • 3 Fresno chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil

Additional ingredients

  • 2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 handfulls basil leaves
  • 1 lime, sliced
  • canola oil for the pan
  • water to deglaze the pan
  • salt to taste

Blend the chiles, garlic, sugar, fish sauce, oil, and salt in a blender until smooth. Transfer the marinade to a bowl and add the shrimp. Stir until coated evenly. Let rest 10 minutes at room temperature.

While the shrimp is marinading, add one tablespoon of oil to a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Slice and cook the sausage until browned on all sides and cooked through. Set aside in a large bowl or platter and tent with foil. Do not wash out the pan unless something burned. Burning is really only possible if you use a chicken sausage stuffed with small ingredients like garlic, cheese, fruit, or vegetables. They fall out and char. You want fond on the bottom of the pan, but char will just taste like carbon.

Increase the heat to medium-high. Add one tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Just when the oil begins to shimmer, add the shrimp using a slotted spoon to drain the marinade or else the shrimp will boil instead of fry. Cook, turning only once so that each side has time to caramelized around the edges. This only takes about a minute per side depending on how much liquid has to cook off. Add the cooked shrimp to the bowl or platter with the cooked chicken sausage. I usually have to cook the shrimp in two batches.

Add the lime slices to the pan as the marinade cooks off. You’re really just browning the lime and adding some flavor to the pan. Remove the lime to the bowl or platter with the shrimp and sausage.

Add about a tablespoon of water to the pan to deglaze the bottom. Turn the heat down to medium-low and toss in the basil. You can chop the basil if you want, but I like whole leaves. Stir until wilted.

Add the shrimp and chicken sausage stirfry back to the pan and stir so that the basil is evenly distributed. Remove the mixture back to the bowl or platter and season to taste with salt.

I usually have to do this in two batches as well. I just add half of the basil, wilt, mix with cooked ingredients, and remove to the serving bowl or platter. Then I wilt the rest of the basil and repeat the process. Everything is cooked, so it’s just a matter of trying to get a uniform basil and lime flavor on all of the shrimp and sausage.

You could probably do this in one batch if you have a big enough nonstick pan, but I don’t.

The flavors marry very well in this recipe. And it’s incredibly versatile. You could add chopped pineapple and bell pepper if you wanted to make it sweeter, or lo mein if you wanted something more like dan dan noodles. Feel free to get creative.

The photo above is actually from a version I did without any oil in the marinade. I wanted to lighten up the recipe. It tasted great, but the shrimp didn’t quite caramelize the way they do with the oil. I think the extra calories are worth it.

This is what the shrimp will look like when marinaded as the recipe dictates.

Shrimp & Sausage Stir-Fry With Wilted Basil

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