Thai Basil - How to cook and grow

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Thai basil is a wonderfully fragrant herb and an absolute staple of the Thai kitchen. Used sparingly it gives curries, stir-fries and salads a distinctive aniseed flavour and is best when added to a finished dish to accentuate its freshness. Thai basil is green leaved with purple flowering heads and should not be confused with holy basil and especially the common Mediterranean varieties which cannot be used as a substitute.

How to Grow
Sow the seeds in early spring and keep warm. Transplant into a large pot or sow directly into the ground in the summer. Cut back regularly to ensure new growth and pinch out the flowering heads. If left, the plant develops long stems with fewer leaves. Cut as required and do not overwater.

How to Cook
Pick the leaves and add them whole or lightly torn to green and red curries of both meat and fish. They are perfect for finishing a Vietnamese soup (pho) and the spicy salads of Thailand. As with common basil the leaves should not be shredded with a knife to avoid loss of colour.

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