Basil is an important culinary herb. It comes in many varieties throughout the world, including the sweet basil often seen in Western cuisine and the Thai basil (known in Taiwan as jiu ceng ta) widely used in Asian cuisine.
Jiu ceng ta literally means “nine-story padoga,” used to refer to the varieties cultivated in Taiwan. Thai basil has a stronger aroma and is commonly used in Taiwanese style stir fries and snacks. It goes well with spicy, robust dishes.
Sweet basil is the most common type of basil used in Western cuisine. It looks similar to Thai basil, but its leaves are rounder and its taste lighter and subtler, with a hint of sweetness to it. One classic way to cook it is to mix sweet basil with olive oil, garlic, pine nuts and seasonings to make Italian pesto.
Sweet basil and Thai basil are of different types: they have different flavors and hence are suitable for different dishes. If you were to make pesto with Thai basil, its taste would turn out to be too astringent and too strong. So next time you fancy making a genuine pesto, be sure to tell the vendor that you want to buy sweet basil.
Source article: http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/lang/archives/2017/08/02/2003675730
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