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Basil is an herb, the green leaves of which are used extensively in Italian cuisine. It is the basis of pesto sauce, and is also widely used as a garnish.

Storing Basil

Basil is best used fresh and can usually be bought either as a potted plant, or harvested leaves. The leaves on the potted plant will remain fresh provided the plant itself is well cared for. Harvested leaves will keep only for 1 or 2 days and are best used on the day of purchase, or frozen. The leaves can then be used from frozen in recipes. Basil can also be bought dried and stored in a jar, which is best kept in a cool dark place.

Chopping Basil

Chopping Basil is an inefficient way to release the flavors from its cellular structure. To maximize flavor from chopped Basil, first place it in a ziploc bag, and then pound it with the flat of cleaver or a meat tenderizer. Pound until the leaves appear wet, and then proceed to chopping.

Other types of basil

Thai cuisine uses a different type of basil called Thai basil. It tastes more like mint or anise than basil, so it is noninterchangeable with Italian basil.

Holy basil (or krapow) is also used in Thai cooking, and has a disinctive, hot flavor, quite different from both regular basil and Thai basil. 

Lemon basil is used in Indonesian cooking, eaten raw (often along with with raw vegetables: cabbage, cucumber and long beans) as an accompaniment to fried fish or duck.

From Wikibooks, the open-content textbooks collection
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