herbs basilBasil is a popular herb. The species most commonly used is the sweet basil which leaves a somewhat anise like taste, with a strong, pungent, often sweet smell.

The plant originated from India and is best known as a culinary herb prominently featured in Italian cuisine, it also plays a major role in the North-East Asian cuisine of Taiwan and the South-East Asian cuisines of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.

There are many varieties of basil: sweet basil with its large green leaves; the tiny leaved Greco-Roman bush basil; purple-leaved Thai basil; lemon basil with its strong lemon scent is popular in salads, marinades and desserts; opal basil with its iridescent purple leaves and more pungent spicy-ginger taste; cinnamon basil; and some 150 other varieties not commonly used.

Leaves will blacken soon after chopping, so chop at the last minute. Use generously, adding towards the end of cooking or add fresh just before serving. It is a versatile herb with a special affinity to tomatoes, fresh or cooked. Pair with Mediterranean and Asian ingredients. Chop or tear and add to vegetable soups, butter sauces for poached white fish, and tossed salads. Steep whole leaves in cream to spice up whipped cream for summer fruits. Use in tomato soup, sauces, salads, omelettes, and with meat, poultry, and fish.

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