For a long time now, I've been toying with the idea of a blog series where I talk about different herbs and spices we all know and love. Basil: history, types and other info is the first installment of the series. Basil, is one of my favorite herbs; I am never without fresh basil, even through the winter months. I most definitely use it in all my Mediterranean dishes. For my Asian dishes I make use of Thai basil which is a totally different flavor.
Sweet basil is the one most of us are accustomed to; it has a sweet flavor which is perfect for pasta, Caprese salad, and as a topping for a healthy and delicious Margherita pizza. Throughout the summer months I have a pot in my yard which gives me generous amounts without me having to mind it too much.
Thai basil on the other hand tastes very differently from sweet basil. It is used in the cuisine: of countries in Southeast Asia like Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand. Thai basil is used in green and red curries and the popular drunken noodles. In Vietnam it is served as a condiment along with pho (a typical Vietnamese soup with noodles, vegetables and meat).
Thai basil looks and tastes differently from sweet basil. Its taste is tinged with the flavors of anise and licorice, and its color is not quite as intense as that of its Italian counterpart. Also Thai basil leaves are slightly tapered and serrated around the edges. Thai basil is sometimes also referred to as cinnamon basil.
Within the Thai basil family, there are a couple of different types: Holy basil, with a spicy peppery clove like taste. This kind is also popular in India where it is used for religious and culinary purposes. It's also been used in folk medicine to curb nausea, sore throat, and as an insect repellent in some cases. There is also lemon basil, named for it's lemony taste.
I hope you enjoyed this article on Basil: history, types, and other info. There will more of these coming in the following months. Stay tuned! Also, it would be great if you share this article with your friends and family!