Cooking With Fresh Culinary Herbs
Each herb has it own distinct characteristics and taste and each herb has a sepcific relationship with certain foods based on culinary histories and traditions. Herbs can enhance a foods natural flavor as well as create a livelier, tastier meal.
Depending on the herb and what you intend to prepare, removing the leaves from stems is a common practice. An herb grinder is an excellent tool to use to prepare your meal. If an herb grinder is not available any method of chopping, snipping or grinding will do. Fresh herbs have subtle and delicate flavors and prolonged cooking causes them to lose their fragrance and their flavor. Add fresh herbs near the end of the cooking time as the flavors develop quickly.
Here are some general tips for using herbs in various dishes:
- For ground meats finely minced herbs can be mixed into the meat before shaping and cooking.
- For batters and crumb mixtures minced fresh herbs are an added source of nutrition and flavor.
- For soup, stocks, stews and sauces fresh herbs should be added at the end of the cooking process for a much richer flavor. The best two ways to do this are to either add herbs directly to the food or tie your herbs in a little cheesecloth and remove them before serving.
- For breads fresh herbs can added at the beginning of the kneading process. Herb breads are a wonderful appealing variation for your sandwich breads or dinner rolls.
- For pasta dishes all herbs should be added in the last few minutes of preparation.
- For fish dishes herbs are a welcome addition and simply bring out the best in any seafood meal. Herbs can be left whole and laid on top of the fish with lemon. Add salt and pepper and butter to the herbs to add additional flavor.
- For egg and dairy dishes minced herbs add the most flavor when mixed in before the cooking begins.
- For Roasts chopped herbs can be rubbed on the meat or under the skin of chicken or turkey prior to cooking. Add salt and pepper and butter to the chopped herbs to add additional flavor