Fresh herbs wait for no one, which is a pressing issue when you’re prone to over-purchasing. Some can be preserved beautifully through drying or freezing, but others perish through the process. There’s a reason why dried basil and dill taste nothing like their original glory, aromatic and herbaceous, reduced down to straw-like hay at best. That’s why a treasure like Thai basil must be cherished immediately, given the opportunity.
What is Thai holy basil?
Distinct from Italian basil, Thai holy basil is more pungent and peppery, sharp and bright, unlike anything else on the market. Despite the misleading name, it’s in fact an entirely different plant, with no relation to other types of common basil. While you could substitute one for the other, you might as well use cilantro instead, since the taste would end up being equally disparate.
What’s the best way to use Thai basil?
Pad Krapao, AKA basil stir fry, is an ideal way to clean the excess fresh herb out of your fridge. It takes almost no prep, comes together in 10 minutes or less, and has an invigorating if not downright addictive flavor. The most common variety you’ll find is Pad Krapao Gai, made with ground chicken, but the beauty of this concept is its versatility. American restaurants tend to favor whole cuts, but you could easily use any protein you prefer.
What are some ideal protein substitutions?
Naturally, my chicken is plant-based. If you’re craving something lighter, heartier, or simply different, you have plenty of choices:
- Tofu, crumbled, cubed or sliced
- Seitan, cubed or sliced
- Tempeh, cubed or crumbled
- Plant-based ground meat
Want to veg out?
I like to keep this prep fast and streamlined, focusing on just one featured vegetable for the sake of simplicity. Go ahead and add a full rainbow to bulk up the meal, especially if you have a frozen stir fry vegetable blend you can effortlessly toss right in. My favorite vegetable additions or substitutions include:
- Bell pepper strips
- Snow seas or snap peas
- Shredded carrots
- Bamboo shoots
- Baby corn
- Sliced zucchini
If you should be so lucky to have access to fresh Thai holy basil, don’t let a single leaf go to waste. There will be no such thing as “too much” when you have this easy, crowd-pleasing recipe in your repertoire.