Banana leaves serve many purposes in Asian cooking, from adding flavor to foods cooked inside them, to simply being used as a colorful and exotic background for serving-plates and party platters. Banana leaves are beautiful, fun to use, and easy to cook with.
Basil is commonly used fresh in cooked recipes. In general, it is added at the last moment, as cooking quickly destroys the flavor. The fresh herb can be kept for a short time in plastic bags in the refrigerator, or for a longer period in the freezer, after being blanched quickly in boiling water. The dried herb also loses most of its flavor, and what little flavor remains tastes very different, with a weak coumarin flavor, like hay. Basil is one of the main ingredients in pesto – a green Italian oil-and-herb sauce. Its other main ingredients are olive oil, garlic, and pine nuts.