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Basil

There’s a reason basil is so popular, and that’s simply because it adds so much flavor to dishes. But while sweet basil — the herb famously associated with Italian cuisine — is ubiquitous in the west, there are other types of fragrant basil varieties common throughout Southeast and South Asian cooking.

Thai basil is for many people the most famous of these and is more minty than sweet basil. It’s common in Thai cooking, as the name would suggest, but is also used throughout Southeast Asia. Lemon basil and holy basil are also common in certain cuisines throughout the region.

Regardless of type, basils can be prepared in many different ways. They can be used fresh, dried, ground, and more. They’re often used to flavor stir-fried dishes and soups, among others.

Unlike hardier herbs and spices, basil is typically added to a dish near the end of the cooking process; adding it too early can decimate the leaf past the point of being fragrant and flavorful and ruin the taste.

Uwajimaya’s spices section carries a huge variety of pungent herbs and spices, including multiple different types of Southeast Asian basils.