I stuck to my usual veggie and herb staples this year in my beds at the community garden: spinach, potatoes, shallots, garlic, Swiss chard, parsley (both Hamburg and Italian), carrots, and sweet basil. I couldn’t resist trying something new, however – this year it was holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum, syn. O. sanctum; also called tulsi), the seeds of which I discovered at Harmonic Herbs, an Alberta seed company out of Barrhead.
Holy basil is often confused with Thai basil (O. basilicum var. thyrsiflora), but although they both originate in the same part of the world, they differ in flavour and appearance. My holy basil plants are very short (about 10″) – I’m sure this is due to my growing conditions, as they are supposed to reach about 2 feet. The bees are completely gaga over the blooms so I haven’t pinched them off. This is one fragrant, glorious basil! I can’t recommend it enough: the clove-like, peppery oils in the leaves are insanely delicious!
It seems that there is a dearth of recipes using holy basil on the ‘net, so I perused the contents of my fridge’s condiment rack and made something up. I’m not into wildly spicy food, so this just has a minor kick, to my taste – feel free to alter this as desired.
Shrimp with Holy Basil
Place 2 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan and heat. Add:
1 chili pepper, deseeded, destemmed, minced finely
3 cloves garlic, minced
Saute just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
1 large shallot (or 1 small onion)
2 scallions, trimmed, chopped finely
Cook 2 minutes, then add:
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp fish sauce
1/4 cup chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
20 large raw shrimp (I prefer them deveined and peeled)
Cook until the shrimp turns pink.
20 leaves holy basil, washed and finely chopped
Cook just until the basil is wilted, about 30 seconds.
Remove from heat and serve over hot cooked basmati rice. Serves 2.
(Metric conversion tables here).
Do you grow basil? What is your favourite kind? Did you grow any “new-to-you” plants this year? Are you pleased with how they’ve performed?