Thai sweet basil (Thai name, bai horapa), also known as Oriental basil or Asian basil, is a cultivar of sweet basil commonly used in the cuisines of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Thai basil has a more pronounced licorice or anise flavor.
The leaves of Thai basil are deep green, smaller than those of Western basil, and arranged on purple-hued stems. The flowers, which are edible as well, are red-purple and licorice flavored. The flowers of Thai basil form in a cluster, not on a spike, unlike those of common basil. The flowers make an attractive plate garnish or colorful addition to green salads and green curry dish.
Lemon basil is an herb grown primarily in northeastern Africa and southern Asia, for its strong fragrant lemon scent is used in cooking. Lemon basil has stems that can grow to 20-40 cm tall. It has white flowers in late summer to early fall. The leaves are similar to basil leaves, but tend to be narrower. In Thailand, lemon basil is called "Maenglak" and it is one of several types of basil that you can see from above pictures used in Thai cuisine. We often use lemon basil in soups.
Thai holy basil lends a distinctive flavor to many Thai dishes. It is called “holy” due to its use over the centuries by Thai monks as a herb for calming the mind and body, thereby enhancing meditative practices. Thai holy basil can be distinguished from sweet basil by its purple coloring and pointed leaves. Its flowers are also purple. Thai holy basil leaves are used in Thai food stir fried dishes such as "Stir fried holy basil with chicken.
Bird's eye chili plant is a perennial with small, tapering fruits, often 2-3, at a node. The fruits of most varieties are red, some are yellow, purple or black. The fruits are very pungent. The flowers are greenish white or yellowish white. The bird's eye chili is small but packs quite a lot of heat. At one time it was even listed as the hottest chili in the Guiness Book World Records. It measures around 50,000-100,000 Scoville Units which is at the lower end of the range for the hotter Habanero chilli
Galangal, called Kah in Thai and known variously as "galangal" and is an immensely pungent and fiery rhizome related to the common ginger but with a personality distinctly its own. Its abundant usage in Thai cooking, almost to the exclusion of ginger, has earned it the title of Siamese or Thai ginger. In short, it is to Thai cooking what common ginger is to Chinese cooking.
There are two different varieties, one known as "greater galanga" and the other, " Lesser galanga". The first, which is larger in size, lighter in color and subtler in aroma, is the most used in Thai cooking.
Ginger, Fresh ginger is essential to Asian and oriental cookery. Ginger has fiery and pungnent flavours. In Asian cooking ginger is almost always used fresh, either minced, crushed or sliced. In Thai cuisine we use dried ginger roots to make curry pastes. The tender and younger ginger can be sliced and eaten as a salad or added into stir fried dishes.
Ginger is also most known for its effectiveness as a digestive aid. By increasing the production of digestive fluids and saliva, Ginger helps relieve indigestion, gas pains, diarrhea and stomach cramping.
Lemongrass is a stalky plant with a lemony scent that grows in many tropical climates, most notably in Southeast-Asia. A common ingredient in Thai cooking, lemongrass provides a zesty lemon flavor and aroma to many Thai dishes.
Lemongrass is also known to have numerous health benefits, especially when used in combination with other Thai spices such as garlic, fresh chillies, and coriander. Tom Yum Koong for example, which contains all of these herbs and spices, with lemongrass as the key player. Tom Yum Goong is thought to be capable of combatting colds and flus.
Kaffir leaves can be added whole to Thai curries, soups, and stir-fried dishes - think of them as the Asian equivalent of bay leaves. Unlike lime, the kaffir lime is a rough, warty green fruit that grows on thorny bush with aromatic and distinctively shaped "double" leaves. It is well suited to container growing. The green lime fruit is distinguished by its bumpy exterior and its small size.
The leaves can also be cut up into very thin slivers and added to spice pastes or used as a topping for many dishes.
Garlic is a species in the onion family Allianceae. Its close relatives include the onion, shallot, leak, chive and rakkyo. The edible bulb or head of garlic is composed of smaller cloves. It is a root crop, with the bulb growing underground.
Garlic is one of the main key ingredients in Thai cuisine. In Thailand we use garlic almost in very dish including stir fries, soups, deep fries and even in curry pastes. Garlic has long been considered a medicinal food. garlic can reduce LDLs or cholesterol and is a good blood-thinning agent to avoid blood clots which could potentially lead to heart attack or stroke.
Shallots are often confused with scallions, the shallot looks rather like a small, elongated onion with copper, reddish, or grey skin. Once you peel it, it divides into cloves like grlic, rather than one bulb with concentric layers like an onion. Shallots are stong rich-tasting and reminiscent of both onions and garlic. Shallots are used in Thai cooking almost as much as garlic and are mostly used in soups, curry pastes and salads.
Thai eggplant is a variety of Kermit eggplant used primarily in Thai cuisine. The most common eggplants in Thai cooking are the round white or green ones about the size of a golf ball and tiny grape shape like. Common cultivar types in Thailand are Thai Purple, Thai Green, Thai Yellow, and Thai White. Thai eggplants are essential ingredients in curry dishes. In green and red curry, Thai eggplants are quartered and cooked in the curry sauce where they become softer and absorb the flavor of the sauce.
Straw Mushroom is a type of mushroom found widely distributed throughout Asia. The mushroom takes its name from paddy straw, the straw left over after growing rice, which happens to be the mushroom's favorite habitat. When mature for eating, a Straw Mushroom is approximately thumb sized.
The Straw Mushroom has a delicate, musty, slightly earthy flavor which is quite appealing to some consumers. It takes well to inclusion in stir fries, soups, and stuffings, and retains both shape and flavor through cooking.