Herbs do more than create a lovely garden; they taste good too! In the spirit of discovery, I like to explore a new things simply because I haven't before. This extends to my culinary world in what I grow and how I choose to preserve the harvest.
|Sesame Leaf (Perilla)|
New in my herb garden this year is perilla, (or sesame leaf) a Korean herb that is a member of the mint family. It has a robust licorice-celery aroma and flavor with a hint of basil. The assertive flavors of perilla are a good match for lamb or duck. The leaf veins tend to be firm, which makes the leaf tough when used whole so I chop it using the food processor. Due to the large size of the leaves a rough chop with a knife is needed before processing. I filled several jars with finely chopped perilla preseved in oil as described in my Herbal Harvest Post. Freezing your herbs in oil allows you to enjoy garden-fresh flavor all year long. I mark each jar with the contents and date and place them in the freezer for future enjoyment.
|Parsley, washed & stemmed|
In addition to perilla I created minced herb oils using Italian oregano (so I would have it on hand for making marinara when tomatoes are in season) as well as a range of thyme, basil and sage varieties.
As an alternative to making pesto from a variety of herbs I decided to my create small jars of chimichurri, an Argentinian condiment with a wonderfully fresh and bright herbaceous flavor. With my first batch I followed the traditional route using parsley as the primary herb adding only a touch of sweet basil and chives. Subsequent batches strayed from the norm to include parilla, Vietnamese coriander and others. Coriander seed is a product of the herb cilantro. The Vietnamese coriander plant imparts a similar flavor but is softer than common cilantro.