Holy Basil – Bai Kraprao or Thai Basil, that Thai people love most, it is bai Kraprao, or holy basil.
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Thai basil has a particular sweet flavor reminiscent of anise, licorice and clove.Popular in the cuisine of Thailand. Thai Basil krapao is mild and has a fascinating anise flavor somewhat comparable to tarragon, but more intensive.
The flavor 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.
Red Basil tastes even more intensively.
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Holy Basil – Bai Kraprao
Thai Basil, that Thai people love most, it is bai Kraprao, or holy basil.
This basil is used together with garlic, fresh chillies and fish sauce, it imparts a wonderful flavor to any meat or seafood. It is spicy, not sweet. There are two varieties: a white (light green) and a red, which has a reddish purple cast around the stems and the underside of darker green leaves. The lightly hairy leaves of both kinds are jagged along the edges. When freshly picked, the aromatic leaves hold a spicy, peppery taste and a delicious combination of basil and mint flavors.
I prefer the more concentrated flavors of the red variety, the kind most used in Thailand that grows profusely everywhere during the wet season.
If you are not able to find fresh holy basil, try the dried leaves imported from Thailand.
Exceptional Herb - Thai Basil or Holy Basil – Bai Kraprao
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 pink-purple flowers.
Three types of basil are commonly used in Thai cuisine. First, Thai basil, or horapha, is widely used throughout Southeast Asia and plays a prominent role in Vietnamese cuisine. It is also the cultivar most often used for Asian cooking in Western kitchens. Second, holy basil, or kaphrao (Thai: กะเพรา), which has a spicy, peppery, clove-like taste, may be the basil Thai people love most.
Thai basil is sturdy and compact, growing up to 45 cm (1.48 ft), and has shiny green, slightly serrated, narrow leaves with a sweet, anise-like scent and hints of licorice, along with a slight spiciness lacking in sweet basil. Thai basil has a purple stem, and like other plants in the mint family, the stem is square. Its leaves are opposite and decussate. As implied by its scientific name, Thai basil flowers in the form of a thyrse. The inflorescence is purple, and the flowers when open are pink.
Thai basil is a tender perennial but is typically grown as an annual. As a tropical plant, Thai basil is hardy only in very warm climates where there is no chance of frost. Thai basil, which can be grown from seed or cuttings, requires fertile, well-draining soil and 6 to 8 hours of full sunlight per day. The flowers should be pinched to prevent the leaves from becoming bitter. Thai basil can be repeatedly harvested by taking a few leaves at a time and should be harvested periodically to encourage regrowth.
Thai basil is widely used in the cuisines of Southeast Asia, including Thai, Vietnamese, Lao, and Cambodian cuisines. Thai basil leaves are a frequent ingredient in Thai green and red curries, though in Thailand the basil used in drunken noodles and many chicken, pork, and seafood dishes is holy basil.