Cooking by “The New Rules”

Our enthusiasm runs deep with our first Milk Street (MS) cookbook, thus our recent splurge on their most recent tome “The New Rules” Recipes that will Change the Way You Cook. Excitedly combing through the pages, we were immediately smitten by all of the innovative recipes!

book cover

There is a 4-page upfront section that lists 75 rules that are sure to alter the way you cook. For instance, RULE NO. 13: Stop Stirring Your Polenta. Really?? Apparently, for the creamiest polenta, all you need is an oven, a couple of vigorous stirs and no endless whisking. You had me at “stop stirring.”

rules spread

How about libations? RULE NO. 75: Salt Your Drinks, Not Your Glassware. Unlike salting the rim of the glass—which overwhelms the flavors inside—a tiny amount of salt added to the drink itself enhances and brightens the other ingredients. OK, I’m game to try… one margarita coming right up…

I’m sure I’ll be blogging a fair amount of recipes from this book and I plan to highlight “The New Rule” with most of them, starting with this Thai Stir-Fried Beef with Basil (Pad Krapow Neua). And I was blown away with how good it was! Over the years, we’ve made Thai beef with basil on numerous occasions, but this rendition now sets the gold standard for us. (This summer, when the herb garden is ready for picking, I would like to try it with Thai basil.)


Rule No. 68: Finish the Dish the Way You Start

Purists say Thai basil is a must for this dish, but Milk Street found that sweeter, slightly more subdued Italian basil yields a perfectly delicious stir-fry. They claim, for the fullest herbal flavor and fragrance, use both chopped basil (mixed with the cooked steak) and torn basil leaves (stirred in at the end).

The snap peas (which we doubled to 8 ounces) and red bell pepper add pleasing crunch, as well as vibrant colors. Use one or two serranos, depending on your heat preference—or, if you like, leave out the chilies altogether. We included two serranos with most of their seeds and it provided quite a punch, but that’s how we roll.

When it comes to the flank steak, make sure to pat dry after marinating. This, along with not crowding the pan, will allow the meat to achieve a nice sear instead of steaming. Serve with steamed white or brown (our choice) jasmine rice.


Thai Stir-Fried Beef with (Lots of) Basil

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 lb. flank steak, halved lengthwise with the grain, then cut against the grain into ¼-inch-thick slices
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp. fish sauce, divided
  • Ground white pepper
  • 4 Tbsp. peanut oil, divided
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil, plus 3 cups lightly packed, torn
  • 2 Tbsp. white vinegar
  • 4 oz. sugar snap peas, strings removed, halved on the diagonal
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and sliced ½ inch thick
  • 1-2 serrano chilies, stemmed and sliced into thin rounds
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch scallions, white and light green parts finely chopped, dark green tops cut into 1-inch pieces, reserved separately
  • 1 Tbsp. white sugar
  • 1 tsp. oyster sauce
  • White or brown long-grained steamed rice


  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the steak, soy sauce, 1 tablespoon fish sauce and ½ teaspoon white pepper. Let stand for 5 minutes, then drain and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. In a 12-inch skillet over high, heat 1 tablespoon of oil until barely smoking. Add half the meat in a single layer without crowding and cook without stirring until well browned, 1 to 1½ minutes.
  3. Turn the slices, then continue to cook until the second sides are well browned, another 1 to 1½ minutes. Transfer to a clean medium bowl.
  4. Repeat with 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil and the remaining meat. Transfer to the bowl, then stir in the chopped basil and vinegar.
  5. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the skillet and heat over medium-high until barely smoking. Add the snap peas, bell pepper and chilies. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the peas are lightly browned, about 3 minutes.
  6. Add the garlic and finely chopped scallion parts, then cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds, then stir in the sugar.
  7. Add the scallion tops and the beef with any accumulated juices and cook, stirring, until most of the juices have evaporated, about 1 minute.
  8. Off heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons fish sauce, the oyster sauce and torn basil, then stir until the basil is wilted, about 30 seconds. Taste and season with white pepper.

Recipe from Milk Street “The New Rules”

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