Posted By Gecko

Thai basil varieties - holy krapao, sweet basil and lemon basil

Deploying the correct type of basil in Thai cooking often confuses those learning to cook Thai food. Specific dishes call for specific varieties to ensure authentic flavours and fragrance, so the following brief summar of choosing the right basil may be of interest - and will help in picking the right herb from the gardens at Gecko Villa.

Of the three types of basil used in Thai cooking, two are the most prevalent. The first is Thai holy basil (Bai Krapow, or Ocimum Tenuiflorum), the most widely used form of basil in Thailand. This has somewhat hairy leaves and is essential in preparing spicy stir fried meats with basil (pat krapow) or Drunkard's Noodles (pat ki mao.)

The second is the purple-stemmed Thai sweet basil (Bai Horapha, or Ocimum Basilicum), used in making the famous Thai green and red curries,and the basil that is most redolent of the herb in Italy or Europe.

The third type is the narrow-leaved Thai Lemon Basil (Bai Maenglak or Ocimum Citriodorum), a fundamental herb in preparing Khanom Cheen noodles and certain Thai curries and Isan dishes.

Two dishes that may be prepared to highlight the differences between Thai holy basil and Thai sweet basil are Pat Krapao Neua and Neu Joom respectively. This first, spicy chopped beef stir-fried with holy basil, garlic and fresh chillies, is a well-loved dish at lunchtime, whilst the second is an Isan beef hotpot with slices of meat cooked in a broth infused with sweet basil and pickled garlic.

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