This post is part of a larger series devoted to a Molecular Gastronomy focused meal I made: Molecular Gastronomy with an Asian Twist. Other posts in this series include Spherification (making “caviar” and Pho Inspired Grilled Steak with Mint, Cilantro, and Lime
This Asian pesto recipe I’m about to show you is so ridiculously easy, I was skeptical about whether it would actually taste that good.
It’s sort of like normal pesto, but with a few major changes.
First, it’s made with sweet basil (also known as Asian basil or Thai basil), which I think is more floral and a bit sweeter than Italian basil.
Second, since it’s Asian, there’s no pine nuts nor Parmesan cheese. In fact, it’s just fresh garlic, sweet basil, oil, and salt.
It’s so easy, yet the pungent garlic and the aromatic sweet basil make a fantastic combination. I tossed this with some simple pho noodles and I was hooked.
Sweet basil is a bit harder to find. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it at a local Western supermarket. Asian markets are the best place to find it.
Outside of markets, I see sweet basil most often at Vietnamese restaurants, where they give you a whole pile of it to eat with your pho. Taiwanese people will also use it in dishes like three-cup chicken, and it shows up all over the place in Thai cuisine.
I made this sauce as part of a larger molecular gastronomy meal this past weekend.
I hate to say this, but since I was in such a hurry when creating this sauce, I didn’t measure anything and just threw it all together.
Amazingly, it turned out great! I really think pesto is a very, very forgiving recipe. How can you go wrong when you blend a gorgeous herb with deliciously strong, fresh garlic cloves?
On the side, I boiled some traditional pho noodles, but I think this pesto would work with any sort of noodle.
Toss together with the pesto and serve!
Thai Basil Pesto
1 large bunch of Asian basil leaves (stems removed)
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup oil
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
Again, this is a very, very flexible recipe. I didn’t measure anything, yet it turned out great. I slowly added salt bit by bit until I thought the flavor was about right. Definitely play it by ear, and give yourself the opportunity to add extra elements to adjust the flavor.
Combine basil leaves, garlic, and oil in a food processor and pulse until completely pulverized. Add salt to taste. Toss with pho noodles.
Optionally serve with the other half of my dish, “Pho-inspired Grilled Steak with Mint, Cilantro, and Lime“.
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