Thai Basil Beef (Paleo, Whole30)

This easy stir-fry packs a punch of umami flavor, thanks to fish sauce, lime juice, and fragrant basil. Traditional Thai cuisine is built on the interplay of the five fundamental tastes: sour, sweet, salty, bitter, and spicy. Although the ingredients and technique here are pretty straight forward, the result is an explosion of flavor and texture that’s anything but simple. This recipe calls for the sweet basil variety you find in most grocery stores, but if you can find Thai basil, use it! You will be so happy.

Thai Basil Beef

Serves 2-4 | Total time: 35-40 minutes | Whole30 compliant

  • 1/3 cup water

  • 1/2 pound green beans

  • 3/4 pound Japanese eggplant

  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil

  • 1 large red bell pepper

  • 4 scallions

  • a generous handful fresh basil leaves

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef

  • 1 small jalapeño

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 3 cloves garlic

  • 1 lime

  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce

  • 2 tablespoons coconut aminos


Cook the beans and eggplant. Heat the water in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. While the water heats, wash the vegetables, then cut the green beans in half cross-wise, cut the eggplant into strips, and thinly slice the bell pepper. Increase heat to high, and when the water boils, add the green beans and eggplant to the skillet, cover the pan, and steam the veggies until they’re just tender, about 4 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl; set aside.


Cook the peppers. Place the coconut oil in the same skillet you used for the beans and warm the pan over medium-high heat, 2 minutes. Add the bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until just soft and beginning to get brown spots, about 2 minutes; transfer the pepper to the bowl with the green beans.


Brown the meat and make the sauce. Return the skillet to the heat and add the ground beef. Slice the jalapeño and add it to the skillet, along with the salt. Cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until it’s browned and sizzling. Meanwhile, peel and crush the garlic and place it in a small bowl. Squeeze the juice of the lime into the bowl and add the fish sauce and coconut aminos. Whisk with a fork to combine.


Final stir-fry. Return the veggies to the skillet and use two wooden spoons to toss them with the meat. Add the sauce to the pan and stir to coat the meat and veggies. Allow the stir-fry to caramelize while you slice the scallions. Turn off the heat, add the scallions and basil to the pan, and toss to combine.


To serve, divide the stir-fry among individual serving bowls and spritz the top with a little more lime juice for extra punch.

You Know How You Could Do That?

Replace the green beans with snow or snap peas, or swap ground pork
or chicken for the beef. Place the finished stir-fry in a bowl and add homemade beef broth for quick soup. Garnish your plate with a sliced hard-boiled egg or sprinkle it with crushed cashews. For a quick curry, add 1 cup unsweetened, canned coconut milk to the sauce.

Cookup Tips

Steam the raw veggies and make the sauce in advance; store both separately in airtight containers in the fridge. When you’re ready to eat, follow the stir-fry instructions.

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