Unless you’re a master chef of Asian cuisine, you probably don’t spend much time cooking with Thai Basil, but that’s about to change. As its name suggests, this variety of basil hails from Southeast Asia and is spicier and bolder than its Italian cousin. When you take a bite of Thai Basil, it sings with a bright zesty flavor reminiscent of anise.
While you won’t find this herb front and center at your average grocer, you may be able to dig for it among other pre-packed herbs. You can also grow it easily at home with seeds from most major seed providers. By growing your very own crops, you’re able to have unique ingredients at your fingertips that can open up a whole new world of flavor combinations. Begin expanding your horizons by incorporating the tanginess of Thai Basil into your everyday menu. The slightly spicy herb can be used in everything from curries to cocktails. Here are five delicious places to start.
5 Ways to Use Thai Basil
Soups: Unlike typical Sweet Basil, Thai Basil retains its flavor better when cooked at high heat or for long lengths of time. This makes it the perfect herb to flavor your soups and stews that bubble up and simmer for hours on end. Use it to enliven traditional chicken noodle soup, or stick to its Southeast Asian roots and craft a homemade curry.
Salads: Thai Basil is most flavorful when served fresh, which makes it a great addition to salads. When harvesting this herb during the summer months, use it liberally with melons or tomatoes for a combination that is both colorful and refreshing. Replace Italian basil with Thai Basil in Caprese for a unique tang or try it on top of a chili watermelon salad to highlight its spicy notes.
Sauces: Thai Basil can be used to infuse oil for cooking and vinegar for dressings, or muddled with nuts and spices to create a delightful pesto. Thai Basil pesto replaces pine nuts with peanuts, olive oil with sesame oil, and sweet basil with Thai basil for a sauce you’ll want to eat by the spoonful.
Cocktails: If your Thai Basil is ripe for the plucking on Friday at 5, you’re in luck. It’s the perfect ingredient for a thirst-quenching cocktail and pairs well with tequila, gin, and rum. To amplify the spice of the herb, add jalapenos into the mix, and complement it with flavors such as lemon, lime, or cucumber. Make crafting your new signature cocktail even simpler by installing Farmshelf next to your bar cart.
Desserts: Our first bite of an herbaceous ice cream highlighted lavender, but after tasting Thai Basil ice cream, we’ll never look back. It puts all other “light and refreshing” treats to shame, but can also be served decadently atop a chocolate tart. If cold and creamy treats don’t do it for you, Thai Basil also goes great with fruit. Enjoy it with fruits from its own tropical climate such as mango and coconut for a sweet snack.
Now you can see how this versatile little leaf will quickly become your new favorite ingredient. You’ll be gathering handfuls every time you pass your Farmshelf to toss in a salad or stir into a soup for an irresistible punch of flavor and good looking garnish to boot.
Chocolate marshmallow puff with tarragon, cilantro, and Farmshelf Thai Basil from 4 Times Square.