Tuesday, June 30, 2015

5 Ways to Use Thai Basil

Each year, I plant herbs in planters near my patio. I have noticed that having my herbs closer to the house ensures that I harvest & use them on a regular basis. This year I chose to plant Thai Basil as opposed to planting my usual sweet basil. I had read that Thai basil stands up to cooking a little better than sweet basil, making it a good choice for soups, stir-fries, and curries. It can also be eaten raw sprinkled over salads or cold noodles dishes, and used interchangeably with sweet basil in most recipes.

So, with this "new to me" herb, I did a little research on how to use Thai Basil.  

Here are 5 Uses for Thai Basil:

ONE: Thai Basil Daiquiri

  • 10 large Thai basil leaves
  • 1 1/2 ounces simple syrup 
  • 2 ounces juice from about 4 limes
  • 4 ounces white rum
  • Pinch salt

How to Make:
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, pour blended mixture into shaker, shake until very cold. Strain through fine-mesh strainer into 2 cocktail glasses.

TWO: Thai Basil Grilled Chicken Breasts
  • boneless, skinless chicken breasts 
  • cilantro 
  • fresh basil
  • coconut milk 
  • jalapenos
  • garlic
  • fresh ginger
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • ground coriander
  • brown sugar 
  • limes (optional for garnish)

Cut the jalapenos in half, scrape out the seeds and membrane using the tip of a vegetable peeler, and roughly chop them into 1/2" pieces.

Peel the ginger with the tip of a spoon. Cut off 2 or 3 thin slices.

Combine the marinade ingredients in a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth. This makes enough marinade for up to 10 chicken breasts.

Place chicken in single layer in non-reactive dish or pan. Pour marinade over chicken breasts. Use tongs to turn the chicken pieces over a time or two to make sure they are well coated with marinade on both sides. Cover and marinate in the fridge.  The chicken breasts can marinate anywhere between 2 and 24 hours. I recommend at least 12 hours for improved flavor and tenderness.

Place marinated chicken breasts on medium-hot grill. Turn when chicken has grill marks and releases easily from the grill--approx. 5-6 minutes. Cook until internal temperature is 160 degrees. (As it rests, the temp with rise to the USDA recommended 165 degrees.)

THREE: Thai Basil Lemon Martini

  • 2 oz Stoli vodka
  • 0.75 oz simple syrup
  • 0.75 oz lemon juice
  • 10 to 12 Thai Basil Leaves
How to Make
Muddle the basil with the lemon juice in a shaker. Add the other ingredients, fill with ice, and shake vigorously. Double-strain into a cocktail glass.Garnish with a basil leaf and lemon twist.

FOUR: Thai Turkey Zucchini Meatballs

For the Meatballs:
·         2 lbs ground turkey, extra lean
·         1 cup zucchini, shredded & liquid squeezed out
·         1 tbsp fish sauce
·         1/4 cup green onions, finely chopped
·         2 tbsp thai basil, finely chopped
·         2 tsp ginger, grated
·         2 garlic cloves, grated
·         1 tsp red curry paste
·         2 tbsp coconut milk, light (canned)
·         1/8 tsp hot pepper chill flakes
·         Cooking spray

For the Sauce:
·         1 + 1/2 cup coconut milk, light (canned)
·         3 tbsp tomato paste
·         1 tsp red curry paste
·         1 tsp fish sauce
·         1/8 tsp hot pepper chili flakes, or to taste
·         5-6 kaffir lime leaves (optional)

1.       In a medium bowl, combine ingredients for meatballs, mix with your hands thoroughly. Make 28 meatballs by spooning heaping 1 tbsp of mixture and rolling between your hands. Lay on a cutting board or plate. Set aside.
2.      In a small bowl, whisk together sauce ingredients and set aside.
3.      Preheat large, 12" or larger, skillet on high, spray with cooking spray. Add meatballs and cook until brown, for about 2-3 minutes. No need to cook the meatballs through. Add the sauce, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered. Serve warm with brown rice or brown rice noodles. Add garnish like fresh cilantro and green onions.

FIVE: Freeze Leftover Thai Basil Before Winter

Cut as much as would fit into a large Ziploc bag. Wash it well and fill the food processor with basil leaves, quite full, but not so full that it won't all chop. As the basil chops, drizzle in a small amount of olive oil or vegetable oil, just enough to coat the leaves so they don't turn dark in the freezer. You might need to stir once or twice to get the top leaves chopped up.

Once chopped, freeze it in an ice cube tray, that is sprayed with non-stick spray.  Freeze it until the basil cubes are frozen hard, then remove and store in Ziploc bag or freezer jar with a tight fitting lid.


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