Lemon basil should be used fresh and added during the last moments of cooking.
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Thai sweet basil maeng lak is mild and has a fascinating anise flavour somewhat comparable to tarragon, but more intensive. The flavour will not tolerate prolonged cooking. The herb is often sprinkled over Thai food immediately before serving, and it is very good in hot and sour Thai soups, tom yam, or curries; it should not be boiled but just steeped for a minute or two in the hot foods.
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Lemon basil (Thailand - Maeng lak) is known for its distinct lemon aroma. Lemon basil should be used fresh and added during the last moments of cooking. The flavour will not tolerate prolonged cooking. But Lemon basil is mild enough to flavor grilled fish or shrimp and can be substituted for basil if you are looking for a fresh tendency of flavor. The herb is often sprinkled over Thai food immediately before serving, and it is very good in hot and sour Thai soups, tom yam, or curries.
Herbs in the Thai Kitchen
The harmonization of tastes, the diversity of Thai food, and the many of Thai-herbs are a priceless heritage that belongs not only to Thai people but also to all people in the world.
Herbs are a great addition to food, not just because they add special flavor and spicy taste to our food, but also contain many anti-microbial substances that help keep our food protected from these agents. In general, herbs are employed in small amounts while preparing recipes but fresh healthy herb leaves can being used in all soups and herbal sauces.
Herbs contain unique anti-oxidants, essential oils, vitamins and many other plants nutrient substances, which help equip our body.
Thai basil is a type of basil native to Southeast Asia that has been cultivated to provide distinctive traits. Widely used throughout Southeast Asia, its flavor, described as
anise- and licorice-like and slightly spicy, is more stable under high or extended cooking temperatures than that of sweet basil. Thai basil has small, narrow leaves, purple stems, and
Used plant part
Leaves; frequently, the entire herb (all aerial parts) is harvested. Best harvesting season is before flowering. Basil leaves should always be used fresh, as they lose most of their flavour within a few weeks after drying. However, in the Georgian spice mixture khmeli-suneli, dried basil is employed (see blue fenugreek).
The seeds of basil have some use as thickening agent in Thailand. In their outmost layer, they contain mucous substance that, on absorbing water, developes into a thick slime surface with an intriguing, opalescent blueish hue. While these basil seeds lack any taste or fragrance of their own, they contribute an interesting texture, both soft and (by value of the core) crunchy. They are often employed in liquid sweets or sweet drinks.
Similar use is made of basil in the Far East; it is especially popular in Vietnam and Thailand. Every visitor to Bangkok who dared to try local cuisine will probably never forget the phantastic basil aroma that emanates from nearly every pot at the numerous foodstalls. The basic ideas of Thai cookery are revealed in gai pad kaprao, chicken with chiles and basil: Despite a searing and truly hellish hotness, the dish provides heavenly pleasures by its subtle basil odour.
When using basil in South East Asian recipes, one should consider that Thai basil tastes rather different from the Mediterranean herb predominantly available in the West. Also, care must be taken to choose the right basil; Thai cuisine is probably the only cuisine that uses three different basil varieties, each for its own purpose. All three basil varieties should be available in Thai food stores.
Thai sweet basil (horapha [โหระพา]) is mild and has a fascinating anise flavour somewhat comparable to tarragon, but more intensive. The flavour will not tolerate prolonged cooking. The herb is often sprinkled over Thai food immediately before serving, and it is very good in hot and sour Thai soups (tom yam [ต้มยำ], see kaffir lime) or curries (gaeng [แกง], see coconut); it should not be boiled but just steeped for a minute or two in the hot foods.
Thai sacred basil has a pungent taste that is often described as peppery although I find it more like allspice. It is most often used for stir-fries, for example the above-mentioned gai pad bai kaprao, as some cooking is necessary to develop its flavour best. I often find that the kaprao sold in Asian groceries is of poor quality; obviously, it suffers from the transport. Mostly for that reason, some cooks will often substitute kaprao by horapha and change the cooking time accordingly.
There is a third basil variety in Thailand: Thai lemon basil, also known as hoary basil. It has a nice lime flavour and is mostly eaten raw as a garnish; its fresh citrus note goes best with fish.
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