Thai Basil

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More on basil! And why not, it’s going bananas in my garden right now, so it’s well worth a look at different varieties and some recipe ideas to use them in.Thai basil – also known as sweet basil, licorice basil or horapa in Thai – is readily available in pots in supermarkets and greengrocers’, and you can pick up seedlings and seeds (or save seeds) to grow the herb yourself. It does well in pots and once it’s established in a garden, it doesn’t need much attention.You can root a fresh stem by keeping it in a glass of water outside the refrigerator. Store cut basil in the refrigerator – it’s best standing upright in a glass of water, covered with a plastic bag. Or wrap in kitchen paper then pop in a plastic bag and keep for up to a week. You can use both the leaves and the pretty purple flowers.

Thai basil has an unmistakable flavour: sweet, fragrant, with an obvious anise note – it contains the same chemical compound that gives liquorice its taste. It’s therefore quite a strong element to add to a dish, so you want to match it with other strong flavours, be they spicy, sour, bitter or sweet.

– Try Thai basil in a summer salad of watermelon, feta and red onion dressed simply with lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil.
– Thai basil is an essential addition to red curries – add a generous number of fresh leaves right at the end of cooking, as it loses its flavour with heat.
– Stir-fry scallops, cockles (clams) and squid over a very high heat, with fresh Thai chilli, fish sauce, sweet soy sauce, tamarind paste and copious amounts of Thai basil. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.
– Steam or barbecue whole fish with a marinade of lime juice, fish sauce, palm sugar and Thai basil.
– Try matching Thai basil with sweet flavours: in a fruit salad with pineapple and mango, or make a Thai basil panna cotta with coconut tuilles and a tropical fruit salsa.

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