Ironically, the mystery is only solved after 5 years and a move to another continent later. I finally learn that part of the mystery flavor is imparted by Thai Basil. Ever since my first encounter with Thai Basil, I use it in every single Thai recipes. And it never fails to offer the flavor I love and miss from Thailand. Unlike the sweet basil which we use in Italian cooking, Thai Basil has a more assertive flavor. OCT think it's pungent. However, I find it hard to express in words its complexity. For some reason, it reminds me of fennel bulb. Other than that, Thai Basil is a highly compatible herb with Asian cuisine. I like to add it towards the end when cooking red/green curry. Sometime even in sweet and sour dish, which one could associate with Chinese/Thai cuisine.
Recently I find another use of this beloved herb in a recipe from July issue of Bon Appetit. A glance at the ingredient list, I know it would be perfect for our weekly vegetarian meal. The original recipe used egg noodle, but I swapped it with angel hair with no problem. Despite its simplicity, this dish is one which packs with lots of Oriental flavors. The use of three types of fragrant oil with ginger, garlic and vinegar is certainly a clever way to infuse lots of flavors without loading on fat. I further reduced the amount of oil by 1.5 tablespoons and increased 2 more cloves of garlic without missing much flavor. It was a perfect light Oriental meal for summer.
Thai basil may seems unassuming, but adding it to any stirfry, or in this case pasta; would instantly enhance the flavor. If you haven't already tried cooking with Thai basil, I strongly urge to do so. It would certainly surprises you how simple it is to add a "Thai touch" to the standard stirfry.
I am submitting this dish which features Thai Basil as my first entry to Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Myriam of Once upon a Tart this round, and be sure to check out more about Weekend Herb Blogging at Kalyn's Kitchen.
Spicy Sesame Noodle with Chopped Nuts and Thai Basil
adapted from July 2007 Bon Appetit
1 tablespoon peanut oil
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced ( I used 4 gloves,because I love garlic!)
3 tablespoons Asian sesame oil (I used 1.5 Tbps)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
11/2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon (or more) hot chili oil*
11/2 teaspoons salt
1 pound fresh Chinese egg noodles (about 1/16 inch in diameter) or fresh angel hair pasta ( I used dried angel hair)
12 green onions (white and pale green parts only), thinly sliced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped roasted peanuts
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh Thai basil leaves
*Available in the Asian foods section of many supermarkets and at Asian markets.
Heat peanut oil in small skillet over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic; sauté 1 minute. Transfer to large bowl. Add next 6 ingredients; whisk to blend.
Place noodles in sieve over sink. Separate noodles with fingers and shake to remove excess starch. Cook in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, stirring occasionally. Drain and rinse under cold water until cool. Drain thoroughly and transfer to bowl with sauce. Add sliced green onions and toss to coat noodles. Let stand at room temperature until noodles have absorbed dressing, tossing occasionally, about 1 hour. Stir in peanuts and Thai basil; toss again. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature.
Makes 4 to 6 servings. Read more...