Thai Sweet Basil, or Anise/Licorice Basil (Bai Horapa): This tropical variety of sweet basil provides the unusual basil flavor present in so many Thai dishes that it has come to be identified as “Thai basil” in America, even though the Vietnamese and Laotians also use lots of it in their cuisines. Its leaves are deep green, smaller and not as round as Western sweet basil. They grow on purplish stems, topped with pretty, reddish purple flower buds. Both leaves and edible flowers are have a strong basil scent and an equally strong under note of anise or licorice. The flavor is just as distinct as its scent, when some people think of licorice – black twizzlers come to mind, but the flavor is much more complex and exciting to the palate.
Plentiful in Thailand, bai horapa is eaten almost as a vegetable, and I have found it’s flavor equally pleasing whether it is raw or cooked. It goes well with anything made with coconut: milk, cream or juice. It is also a great replacement for cilantro…
As with many leafy herbs, this basil can be kept fresh by placing it in a glass with the cut ends in water, covering it with a plastic bag and storing it in the refrigerator. Or, you can wrap the herbs in paper towels before bagging them in plastic before refrigerating. They will stay fresh for about a week.”-excerpt and picture from the blog Xotic Spice
I still have a bag full of Thai basil left in my refridgerator, so I am hoping to try this recipe for Thai basil pesto.
Thai Basil Pesto-courtesy of the blog From Scratch
•1/3 cup peanuts
•1 cup Thai basil
•1/3 cup cilantro
•4 cloves garlic
•1 TB lime juice
•1 small red chili (I left the seeds in, if you aren’t a spice fiend you might want to scrape the seeds out)
•1/3 cup vegetable oil (although, next time I’m going to try peanut oil, I was out when I made this)
I am sans food processor right now, so I just tossed all peanuts, herbs, garlic, and pepper in my spice grinder, tossed the resulting paste in a mixing bowl and added the lime juice and the vegetable oil and used a hand mixer to combine everything. I used half of it for Rice Noodle Stir Fry with Thai Basil Pesto , and froze the other half in a ziploc bag in the freezer.
Note: Because of the lack of a substitute for the cheese in Italian style pesto, this paste doesn’t have much in the way of a salty flavor. Next time I make this I may add a TB of fish sauce–but then again may not, since almost everything I will probably cook with this with with have Nuoc Cham on the side.
Let me know how you’ve been using your Thai basil at firstname.lastname@example.org.