One thing that I’m passionate about in cooking is the use of herbs to add to the flavor of a dish. I find that way too often in our overly-processed American food, we tend to have one thing we use for flavor: SALT. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not totally opposed to salt. But I’d much rather build a robust and complex flavor through the use of herbs rather than salt a dish to death.
I always prefer fresh herbs when available. And one I tend to gravitate towards over and over again is BASIL. Why? Well, maybe because I understand it, but also because the simple addition of basil to a dish can make a world of a difference!
BASIL (Greek: king, aka “king of herbs”)
Classification: Plant, Herb
Taste: refreshing, sweet, pungent, and depending on variety, may have a hint of anise flavor. Asian varieties tend to have a clove-like flavor.
Typical Cuisine: Italian, Southeast Asian (Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos)
A Few Popular Varieties: Genovese Basil (Italian Cuisine), Thai Basil, Holy Basil (Asian Cuisine), Lemon Basil, Cinnamon Basil. There are over 160 varieties according to Wiki.
Best Served: FRESH! Dried tends to lose most of its flavor. When using fresh, don’t add to the dish until right at the end as cooking also quickly destroys the flavor.
Growing: You can grow basil indoors or outdoors. Go here for some tips. It’s a good kitchen window plant. I don’t have a good window in my kitchen, unfortunately, so I use an Aerogarden (space-saver version) to grow basil. Love it!
Prepping: You can use whole basil leaves, rip pieces, do a rough mince, or do a chiffonade that creates tiny little strips great for garnishment! Chiffonade: Stack the basil leaves (up to about 8 leaves), Roll leaves into tight cigar shape, Using a sharp knife, cut thin strips.
Storage: Can be stored in the refrigerator for short times in plastic bags (I usually put in a damp paper towel as well), or there are a few different freezing techniques.
Basil Goes Great With: Parsley, rosemary, oregano, thyme, sage, tomato in all its forms (fresh, sauces), mushroom, lemon, Mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, pastas, curries, chicken.
Some Recipes with Basil on Food Apparel:
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