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Thread: Substitute for Thai Basil?

  1. #1
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    Substitute for Thai Basil?

    I've got a few Thai recipes I'd like to attempt but all call for Thai Basil which I haven't been able to locate; I remember an old landlord of mine used to grow it and it had kind of a lemony taste. I'm thinking of winging it with some traditional French Basil and a pinch of lemongrass (both dried from Penzey's); wondering if any of you have used this ingredient and think that would work as a substitute... Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Thai Basil actually has kind of a licorice-y taste, not lemony.

  3. #3
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    I'd substitute fresh Italian basil.
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  4. #4
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    With Zwieback - it's more intensely licorice, not lemon.
    I may be in the minority, but I've never liked Italian basil in Asian dishes. Even though they're related, I find the difference very noticeable (and fresh is key in Thai dishes - I'd forego the dried herbs). When I can't be bothered tracking down Thai basil I substitute cilantro. Obviously a very different herb, but it seems more complementary to the cuisine.
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  5. #5
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    My solution to not being able to easily find Thai Basil is to grow it. Outdoors in the summer, in my AeroGarden the rest of the year. My AeroGarden is exclusively used to grow Thai Basil.
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  6. #6
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    C. I. suggests substituting mint, not sweet basil for Thai basil, per a post by funniegrrl back in '06. They said they detected hints of licorice, cinnamon, and mint.

  7. #7

    Substitute for Thai Basil

    A pinch of ground Star Anise.

  8. #8
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    I'm glad that this thread was resurrected-- never thought of star anise, but it does have that licorice-y flavor that Thai basil has.

    Actually, I just do without making Thai food over the winter/early spring because Thai basil is so difficult to find locally and is so essential (I start seeds in April, then move the pots indoors before the first frost, where the plants will last for about a month before dying). However, in March I found them at an Oriental grocery and it was great-- Thai food practically every day for 2 weeks!


    wait... or was the above post spam??? I can never figure it out...
    Vicci


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  9. #9
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    It's hard to find here too. When I find it I buy extra and freeze it. As long as it's going into a hot cooked dish, it works great. Just wash it and toss in a ziplock bag and freeze. I do this with a lot of herbs. And if I'm freezing large amounts, I'll sometimes buy those mini... I think they're called snack ziplock bags (smaller than a quart, rectangular) and package up the herbs in smaller portions. Then I pack those into a gallon ziplock. Helps with freezer burn and ice crystals.

    The produce store here carries a lot of ethnic food, a fair amount of which I wouldn't know what to do with (occasionally I buy something strange, take it home and google it ) All sorts of vegetables and roots and squash and fruit and who knows what, but herbs kind of come and go. They have Thai basil, curry leaves and and I just found Kaffir lime leaves there for the first time!!! but they don't have them all the timeme (and never when I want them), and there doesn't seem to be any pattern to when they do have them (I've tried asking). So fortunately they all freeze great.

    And I have a black thumb, so growing them is out of the question Especially inside, I can't keep anything alive. Not quite so bad outside, but other than mint and catnip, something always eats them.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by VictoriaL View Post
    I'm glad that this thread was resurrected-- never thought of star anise, but it does have that licorice-y flavor that Thai basil has.

    Actually, I just do without making Thai food over the winter/early spring because Thai basil is so difficult to find locally and is so essential (I start seeds in April, then move the pots indoors before the first frost, where the plants will last for about a month before dying). However, in March I found them at an Oriental grocery and it was great-- Thai food practically every day for 2 weeks!


    wait... or was the above post spam??? I can never figure it out...
    This cracked me up. me too!

    I am growing Thai basil on my windowsill. FWIW.
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