I'm stoked to report that The Gastronomer and I have added Thai basil to our potted herb garden this year, and the two small plants I purchased in March are thriving. In fact, they've been growing so fast that even with a big pot of Ba Ngoai's pho in the house last week, our demand for the fragrant leaves hasn't been able to keep up. I've grown tired of wasting perfectly good Thai basil when I trim off the parts that are flowering, so I decided it was time to make pesto. This recipe is a delicious twist on a classic pesto, with fish sauce, sesame oil, peanuts, rice wine vinegar, and red pepper flakes giving it a distinctly Southeast Asian flavor profile. It was surprisingly spicy for a Cooking Light recipe, I thought. We enjoyed it with Vietnamese rice vermicelli noodles (bun) and vegetables.
Recipe from Cooking Light via myrecipes.com.
- 2 cups fresh Thai basil leaves
- 3-4 tablespoons dry-roasted peanuts
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 garlic cloves
Yield: 4-6 servings
Estimated Start-to-Finish Time:
Actual Start-to-Finish Time: 45 minutes (mostly trimming the basil, plucking the leaves from the stems, and washing them).
Substitutions: At the suggestion of a commenter on myrecipes.com, I added extra peanuts (the original recipe only called for 2 tablespoons). After making my way through half a bowl of noodles with the pesto, I decided that it was actually too spicy--I think I'll reduce the red pepper to 1/2-3/4 teaspoon next time.