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Thai Basil

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Post  Marc Iverson 9/5/2013, 4:18 am

I really like the looks of purple basils, and after seeing the peculiar pictures on seed packets etc. of Thai basil's purple flowers on top of green leaves, I really wanted to try them out. Now I'm not sure what to do with them.

A search didn't even turn up the word "Thai" on the forum, so maybe nobody else is growing it?

I'm wondering what people are using this plant for -- what dishes, etc. I like its looks, which got me to wondering how cool a snipped off small head of basil would look floating in a bowl of soup, to be discarded but meanwhile flavoring the soup and looking fantastic. But what kind of soup would emphasize the flavors of basil, Thai or not?

Any ideas for a basil soup? Or for other good ways to use Thai basil? (Currently I grow sweet basil, bouquet basil, and Thai basil, but mostly use them for color, companions to tomatoes, and attracting bees when they go to seed.)
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Post  PabloElFlamenco 9/5/2013, 5:47 am

Sawadee, Marc.  As new member, I'm not allowed (I believe) to post links to websites, but the old beeb' (BBC) has some recipes at (triple w) (dot) bbc (dot) co (dot) uk (slash) food (slash) thai_basil  (just don't put any spaces in)  My experience with thai basil is that it can be used much the same as ordinary (Italian?) basil leaves.
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Post  TxGramma 9/5/2013, 11:52 am

I haven't used Thai Basil so can't speak from experience just from research, but what I learned is that it has a licorice/anise taste and is more pungent than Italian Sweet Basil. It also holds up to cooking better than other basil so it is good to use in cooked dishes especially curries and stir fries. Oh, you might want to look up a recipe for Thai Basil chicken it sounds yummy and easy to make.

Here's a good article: What is Thai Basil? It doesn't give recipes but it does tell you ways to use it and what it pairs well with.

A few pesto recipes: Thai Basil Pesto with Garlic Scapes or  Thai Basil Pesto or Thai Basil Pesto
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Post  grownsunshine 9/5/2013, 5:53 pm

Costco now sells a Pho Soup base (if your lucky enough to find it at your nearest Costco). You put the soup base in water with the spice/herb bag and cook it for a bit. Then put vermicelli noodles, Thai basil, sprouts and chicken or beef. They have 2 different bases (chicken and beef).

I spoke to a friend and she said it take a long time to make the base, if you did it from scratch.

This looks like a pretty good recipe and simple enough for me to try: http://www.poorgirleatswell.com/2012/04/recipe-spicy-thai-basil-beef.html

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Post  Marc Iverson 9/5/2013, 9:03 pm

Thanks for the ideas, everyone!
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Post  Pox 9/23/2013, 3:20 pm

Good replies here.  I always grow Thai basil for a couple of reasons.  Having lived in Thailand in my youth, I ate it all the time.  Also, it's well suited to my climate here in Miami. 

It definitely does have a licorice/anise flavor and it absolutely does cook better than most basil as has already been mentioned.  I use is strictly for Thai dishes as it's flavor profile is so different from most basil's.  It's not interchangeable.
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Post  walshevak 9/23/2013, 3:56 pm

Thai basil makes a wonderful addition to a front yard flower garden.  

Took this picture a few minutes ago so it has already bloomed out it's best, but still has some purple flowers, and the bees love it.

Thai Basil Dscn1710

Just as pretty as the blue salvia in the other flower bed.

Thai Basil Dscn1711

Something for those folks with picky HOAs to consider.

Kale planted behind a row of pansies, especially if you intersperse a few of the redbor magenta kale, makes a good fall edible garden that will pass any HOA.

Kay

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Post  Marc Iverson 9/23/2013, 5:13 pm

Yours are very pretty. Mine had reddish leaves toward the top of the stalks, whereas your leaves look green. Both quite pretty, in their own ways. You're right, your basil looks just as pretty as the salvia.

I let a lot of mine go to seed, too, to keep the bees happy. I'll definitely be growing more next year.
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Post  sanderson 2/10/2014, 8:33 pm

Found this at OSH today:
Thai Basil Thai_b11

I should have bought it for the pretty purple (salvia-like) flowers for the front yard.  I forgot it looked so pretty.
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Post  camprn 2/10/2014, 8:37 pm

What is OSH?

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Post  sanderson 2/10/2014, 8:48 pm

Orchard Supply Hardware. A more friendly, smallish big box store here. Sort of like asking some folks what is Pigly Wiggly.
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Post  MB3 2/10/2014, 8:53 pm

there are a few kinds of "thai" basils, and they have different plants and tastes, among other things.  i am hardly an expert, but for one species, you will find at least one representative of the 4 major Tulsi (Tulasi, etc) -- Holy Basils, based on Vedic beliefs (also used in India).  Some people say the Tulsi are at least two distinct species, if not four, but i can't claim any really knowledge.  You can find a pack at Horizon Herbs that includes all four of these Holy Basil for about $10 (if I had money this is what I would order, and gladly offer a trade for things I have for a small bit of each of these 4 types), and they also sell live plants or cuttings for all 4 major Tulsi.  There are also other species of Thai Basil, one sold generically as just Thai Basil (the most common in the west, and perhaps the East?), known under names like horapha in Thai.  You will find cultivars with names like Siam Queen.  Then there is a Thai lemon basil species which may or may not be a bit more wild, depending on source I read.  
The only kind I have seed for is a generically name "Thai basil," but names like this may end up with green, purple or red stem and flower varieties, it is really nondescript.


as for usage, each one will vary, but in general the licoricey ones are especially good in coconut cream curries, but so are the cinnamon and lemon accented ones.  Also good in any curry, Thai or Indian. They may also be used in other dishes that call for basil in general, and pesto is pretty good with any herb, let alone any variant or combo of basils.

Again, anyone wanting to swap any kind of Thai basil for other stuff, let me know; of particular interest to me are the Tulsi (holy basil) varieties.
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Post  dstack 2/10/2014, 9:18 pm

My thai basil smells like sausage pizza. LOL 

I've been growing it in my winter garden.
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Post  Nonna.PapaVino 2/10/2014, 9:59 pm

My Thai basil experience is with the aforementioned Siam Basil.  And, yes, I make pho, the broth for which is easier in a slow cooker. A recipe is shown here: http://www.vietworldkitchen.com/blog/2008/10/pho-beef-noodle-soup.html and is very similar to what I make (though I never use spearmint).  My garnishes in the very hot broth/noodle mix are: fresh bean sprouts, Siam Queen Thai basil, cilantro, fresh thinly sliced jalapeno peppers and a drizzle of Hoisin sauce.  I say the soup stock is similar because it changes slightly by what I have on hand and the taste I desire.  Thai Pho is wonderful for satisfying slurping.  Give it a try, and should you want to kick the heat up a notch, use thinly sliced Bulgarian Carrot Chilis!  Nonna
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Post  Marc Iverson 2/11/2014, 1:55 pm

Man, I suddenly started craving some pho!
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Post  Nonna.PapaVino 2/11/2014, 10:01 pm

Was in Longview, WA today and noticed a Thai noodle restaurant called Pho Ever.  Nonna
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Post  FamilyGardening 2/12/2014, 1:09 am

I love this garden series on U tube, she grows and uses Thia basil along with lots of other veggies and herbs....she has gardening and cooking videos and loves Thia food....https://www.youtube.com/user/dylan14570/featured

click the link above and browse her videos or look for the search button right below the words *Rainbow Gardens*...it will have a little *house*-*videos*-*discussions*-*about* and then the *magnifying glass* 

 click the magnifying glass and type in Thia basil and it will pull up videos on that subject of hers....

happy gardening
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Post  elysia 9/4/2014, 2:52 pm

I have used the purple thai basil flowers (not yet bloomed - not sure if that would matter or not) to flavor oils - if I recall it was recipe I found on the internet.  I combined the olive oil and thai flower buds to a glass jar...turned out great.  I also added the purple part of the plant (again - not yet bloomed) to a batch of easy pickled peppers with some whole peppercorns and it turned out great!
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Post  sanderson 9/4/2014, 3:04 pm

Thai basil is hot, correct?

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Post  dstack 9/4/2014, 3:13 pm

@sanderson wrote:Thai basil is hot, correct?
No. At least mine isn't.
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Post  camprn 9/4/2014, 3:29 pm

@sanderson wrote:Thai basil is hot, correct?
You are thinking Thai peppers I bet...

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Post  walshevak 9/4/2014, 4:09 pm

I use Thai basil in my flower garden.  It makes a pretty companion plant and the purple flowers are loved by the bees.

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Post  Nonna.PapaVino 9/5/2014, 11:14 pm

No, Thai basil is not "hot" but it is very flavorful but does not taste like Italian basils.  It's the beautiful basil served with a real pho (noodle soup) along with other add-ons, like: sliced jalapenos (semi-hot), Thai peppers (hot!), fresh bean sprouts, etc.  Like Italian basils, it's easy to grow and is especially good in Asian cuisines.  Try it, you'll like it!  Nonna
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Post  sanderson 9/5/2014, 11:25 pm

Okay, I'll try it next year. If I end up not liking it, my DIL can cook with it.

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