There are all kinds of pastes. Numerous cuisines make use of them. They are the ideal way to store herbs long term. A spoonful can quickly be added to a grain or protein to make something healthy and tasty. In times and places without refrigeration they are essential. The components in a paste are a variety of fresh and dried herbs finely chopped and suspended in a base of vinegar, oil, sugars, or ingredients that will ferment. Pastes can be put in storage for one day or 12 months depending on the preservative qualities present in the ingredients.
Green Curry Paste
1 tsp of dried red chile flakes
1 tsp of ground coriander seeds
1/2 cup of fresh cilantro leaves
1 TBSP of finely chopped fresh ginger root
1 TBSP of of chopped fresh lemon grass
2 large cloves of garlic
2 TBSP of olive oil
2 cups of or two large handfuls of Thai (or any type) basil
Blend all of the ingredients in a food processor until you have a smooth paste.
Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
To a large frying pan add 16 ounces of cooked shrimp (tails and shell removed), 2 TBSP of the green curry paste and 1/2 can of regular coconut milk. Simmer on medium heat until all ingredients are hot and sauce has thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, serve with batsmati rice.
Basil is in the mint family. Typically it is an annual but will overwinter indoors. It is a very common garden herb used as a companion plant and insect repellant. A thin branching root produces several lush square stems growing 1-2 feet high. The leaves can vary from bright to dark green depending on the variety. Some types like Thai basil have purple in their oppositely arranged leaves. Leaves can be oval to spade shaped, toothed or smooth in their margins. Like others in the family, it has lots of small two lipped flowers that grow on racemes/spikes of 2-4 inches. These are a favorite of bumble bees and come in shades of white, red or purple. A distinguishing feature of Ocimum is the smell, similar in all varieties but with slightly different “notes”.
This plant warms, calms, and clears phlegm/damp. It has a pungent/bitter taste with fire as its element. Historically basil has been used to treat all manner of digestive complaints such as cramps, vomiting, constipation, gas, low appetite, diarrhea, bacterial infections and inflammation. It stimulates the flow of breast milk, cures a headache, and calms a bad cough. Ocimum has been used for depression, asthma, retained placenta, fever, anxiety, bronchitis, and fatigue.
Externally it has helped with acne, bug bites, fungal infections, sore muscles, and arthritis. The essential oils/scent make it useful in aromatherapy, ritual bathing/cleansing, beauty products and as incense.
This herb is very popular in many cuisines as a pesto, salad garnish, and spice.
Contraindications: Avoid large/therapeutic doses in pregnancy.