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[Flavor Friday] Thai Basil



What’s Thai basil?

Thai Basil (ocimum basilicum var. thyrsiflora) is a type of basil that’s commonly used in Southeast and East Asian Cuisine, especially Thai, Vietnamese, and Taiwanese. It is native to Southeast Asia. The key differences between Thai basil and the sweet basil (ocimum basilicum) are commonly the taste and texture. Thai basil has purple stems and flowers with firm spear-shaped leaves; whereas sweet basil has light green stems, white flowers with oval/curly bend-down leaves.

What does it taste like?

Thai basil is milder in taste with extra licorice and anise aroma if compared with sweet basil. Thai basil also performs better (keeping its aroma in dishes) under high-heat and longer cooking time which suits well with East and Southeast Asian Cuisine cooking methods.

Origins/Habitat

Thai Basil is a tropical plant/herb that is originated in East Asia. It is a perennial herb that usually lives for 2 years and will slow down or stop growing during winter and resume growth at a warmer time in the year.

Commonly Used Cases

Usually, you can find Thai basil at Asian supermarkets where it is packaged in the fresh produce section with other vegetables and includes the stem, leaves, and flowers only. For culinary use, people usually pinch off the flowers to prevent the leaves from becoming bitter. For cooking, people usually stir-fried the leaves to add flavors to their dishes like noodles, meat, or rice. It is also common to braise it with meat and soup.

Dish

Pad Grapow, Taiwanese Fried Chicken, Thai Basil Chicken, Pho, Drunken Noodles, and Three Cup Chicken

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