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Pork Shiso Parcels

2 Jun

Shiso or Perilla is a fragrant leafy herb commonly grown in East Asia and is used particularly in Japanese and Korean cooking. The leaves are large and make a wonderful material to use as a wrapping for delicate meats or vegetables. These are stuffed with a pork and rice mixture seasoned with Asian flavours of ginger, garlic, sesame and soy but you could use tofu as a vegetarian version.Pork wrapped in Shiso Leaves

Shiso LeavesIMGP1217


  • minced pork
  • cooked rice
  • egg
  • crushed garlic
  • grated ginger
  • green onion or chinese chives
  • a dash each of: sesame oil, soy sauce and fish sauce (optional).

Mix 2 parts pork to 1 part rice with a hint of garlic, ginger and green onion, add the wet ingredients and mix really well. Add a little beaten egg to bind. Take large shiso leaves one at a time, lay on a board with the pointed end away from you . Lay a small spoonful of mixture about 1/3 of the way in the thick part of the leaf. Fold in the sides then once over from the front then flip over onto the pointed end. Cook by frying in an oiled skillet or brush with oil and grill. They can also be cooked over a fire or barbecue.

Serve with a simple dipping sauce of soy sauce and rice vinegar, add a hint of chilli if you want some heat.

Garden Note   Perilla frutescens var crispa  A Tender Self-Seeding leafy herb also known as Shiso or beefsteak plant.  Perilla is a member of the Lamiaceae family, which includes many strong aromatic herbs including; mint, basil, rosemary, lavender, Melissa, marjoram and sage. This tender bushy herb is grown for its aromatic leaves, flower buds and seeds. Used extensively in East Asia as a vegetable and as a herb, most famously the red variety is used to colour pickled ginger. It makes a great addition to a kitchen or herb garden and when the leaves are large enough great as a wrapping for grilled or deep-fried foods.


Spicy Chicken Wings (Thai)

7 Aug

Delicious wings marinated in coriander seed and leaf along with chilli, lemon, garlic and black pepper. Cook over coals or under a grill and cook until crisp. Serve as a main dish with rice or salad or one or two pieces as a starter.

Marinade for about 600g of chicken.
  • 4-6 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp pepper flakes
  • 1 tp coriander seeds, crushed
  • lemon zest & juice of half lemon
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • coriander leaf, minced
  • 2-3 tbsp fish sauce (optional)

Prick the chicken pieces with a knife or sharp fork to help get the flavours into the wings and lay in a dish. Mix the marinade ingredients together and pour over the chicken and rub into each piece. Leave in a cool place to marinate over night or for at least 4 hours.
  1. Barbecue When the barbecue coals or grill are good and hot, put the pieces over the hot coals.  Turn and brush with any remaining marinade until the chicken is cooked and the skin is crisp, about 10-15 mins depending on the size of the chicken pieces and heat of the coals.
  2. Grill Cook under a hot grill for 15-20mins, checking and turning, until the chicken is cooked and the skin is crisp.
  3. Oven Roast Put pieces on a rack over a baking tray and brush with marinade. Bake in a preheated oven 220c/Gas 6 for 15-20mins until the chicken is cooked through and golden brown.
Cooks Tip
Mix up the chicken and marinade in a plastic bag as it will make it easier to rub the marinade in and to carry it out to the barbecue.

Green Coriander Seeds

13 Oct

Green coriander seeds are one of my favourite spices in the kitchen. While still green they taste quite different to the dried seeds and along with the leaves are very useful and highly prized in my kitchen.

For cooking green, harvest the seed heads as you need them and pull off the seeds, use whole or bashed to release their flavour in dishes such as Aloo Paratha, Prawn & Tomato Curry, Aubergines with Coriander. If you keep the seeds for even a few days in the kitchen they will start to dry out, change colour and flavour. The dried seeds are the same as the ones you can buy from an Asian grocer, very useful but really not the same as the green ones for taste.

If you want to harvest dried seeds for the kitchen or for seed production; leave the seeds on the plant until they start to turn brown then harvest.

I harvest and sow the seed almost monthly to keep an ongoing supply of leaf and green seed. For more on growing coriander see Asian Herbs for the Kitchen.

Basil Oil

5 Oct

Here is another preserving job to do in autumn to capture the flavours of summer before the first frost. Basil is a delicate herb, it does not freeze well and it does not keep its flavour when dried, it goes slimy if left too long in oil so the best way is to infuse oil with its aromatic flavours and then strain it. The infused oil is a great treat through the winter months on salads or drizzled over soups.

You don’t really want to wash the basil so its best to be careful when you pick it. Pick the basil a day or so after a good rain in the morning of a dry sunny day. Bring the basil into the kitchen and roughly shred it, or bruise it slightly in a large mortar and pestle to release the oil. Pack the basil into a large sterilised glass jar, fill the jar to over half way and pour oil over to fill to the top. Push down and make sure there are no are bubbles. Seal and leave the jar to infuse for 2-3 weeks before straining into clean jars.

TIPI find the best way to strain the oil is to use a coffee filter paper set in a funnel. It takes some time to drip through but just keep topping it up. Bottle immediately and store in a dark place.

Salted Parsley Preserve

28 Sep

Salting parsley makes a great long-keeping preserve that remains remarkably fresh tasting and keeps its deep rich colour well. I collect and preserve parsley in late spring and early autumn.

*300g parsley, washed and dried
*1 bulb green garlic, peeled (optional)
*5 heaped tsp rock salt

Grind the ingredients together, empty into a clean bowl cover with a plate and leave for 24 hours. Next day stir the mixture well and spoon into sterilised jars, loosely cover and leave for 2 days. After 2 days seal tightly and store. Use this preserve as a seasoning ingredient for soups, salad dressings and pasta sauces. Use it by the spoonful straight from the jar, but do beware of adding any other salt to dishes if you are using this preserve as it is very salty. This method of preservation works remarkably well and will keep for at least a year, that I know of, in jars in the fridge.

Garden Note
In May, before last years parsley starts to go to seed and in October before the first frost we have a plentiful supply of parsley leaves to preserve. I make this or freeze it. I use the Italian flat leaf parsley.

Collecting the parsley 
The parsley must be very dry with no moisture clinging to the leaves of the condiment will spoil. It is best gathered when dry after a light rain or first washed and dried fully before using.

This recipe was originally posted on  06/05/2008

Tomato Salad

10 Aug

This salad is standard fair in summer and simplicity itself. Great served with grilled foods or as a fresh vegetable accompaniment or starter

  • tomatoes
  • crushed sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Slice the tomatoes in half and toss with the remaining ingredients. Tomato salads are best eated immediately.

Variation mash some basil leaves with a little salt and olive oil as a dressing or give it a simple dash of olive oil and balsamic or red wine vinegar. Add shavings of parmesan cheese, freshly torn basil leaves, sliced sweet onions or chinese chive buds.

Gardeners Note
I am always on the look out for the best tasting tomatoes so far my favourite varieties are Noir de Crimee and Cuostralle
Original post 10/8/2006

Grilled Chicken Wings (Thai)

19 Jul

I love oriental style grilled chicken particularly the wings when grilled over coals and cooked until crisp. These ones are marinated in lime, chilli and Thai basil. Thai basil has a deep peppery aniseed flavour it is delicious and really worth growing.  Serve as a main dish with rice or salad or one or two pieces as a starter.

Marinade for about 600g of chicken.
  • Handful of Thai basil shredded
  • rind and juice of 1 lime
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
Prick the chicken pieces with a knife or sharp fork and lay in a dish. Pour the marinade over and rub into each piece. Leave in a cool place to marinate over night or for at least 4 hours.
  1. Barbecue When the barbecue is good and hot, put the pieces over the hot coals and brush with the marinade as they are turned until the chicken is cooked 15-20 mins depending on the size of the chicken pieces and heat of the coals.
  2. Grill  Cook under a hot grill for 15-30mins, checking constantly and turning so as not to burn them, until the chicken is cooked through and the skin is golden brown.
  3. Oven Roast Put pieces on a rack over a baking tray and brush with marinade. Bake in a preheated oven 220c/Gas 6 for 20-30mins until the chicken is cooked through and golden brown.

Pesto Sauce

3 Jul

Pesto sauce is easy to make and is unforgettable eaten fresh, it bears no resemblance to the bottled stuff, and it is really worth making it yourself. It can be used on pasta or rice added to sandwiches, soups or used as a dressing for grilled or raw vegetables and makes a delicious dip.

*3 peeled garlic cloves
*3-4 bunches of freshly picked basil
*1 tbsp Pine Nuts
*3 tbsp fresh Peccorino cheese, grated
*3 tbsp fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
*6 tbsp Olive Oil

Put the 3 garlic cloves, basil and a heaped tablespoon of pine nuts in a mortar and crush, add 1 tablespoon each of good quality olive oil, grated pecorino and grated parmesan, keep adding grinding as you go until 3 spoons of each have been added. When you have reached a thick, paste, empty it into a bowl and dilute with more olive oil, mixing well.  Or to make life easier just whizz the whole lot up in a food processor then add the remaining oil.

Cooks Tip

When using the pesto for pasta sauce, dilute it with 1-2 tablespoons of water before using. The sauce should keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks with a layer of oil to keep the air out.

This recipe was originally posted on  3/07/2006 revised and to be re photographed

Parsley & Bulgur Salad (Tabbouleh)

14 Jun

This middle eastern combination of herbs, vegetables and wheat grain is a healthy and delicious salad that makes a good accompaniment for barbecued food. The ratio of wheat to herbs and vegetables varies greatly and can sometimes include cucumber and allspice. I like it with loads of parsley and mint and plenty of tomatoes, chilli and onion but no allspice.

Prep 10min Marinade 1 hour

  • 100g medium grain bulgur wheat
  • 2 white salad onions or 1 bunch spring onions finely chopped
  • 1 large mild green chilli or green pepper sliced very thinly (optional)
  • 1 tsp Chilli flakes (optional)
  • Juice of 2 large lemons
  • 1/2 tsp each of sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • 3 tomatoes diced
  • 3 large bunches of flat leaf parsley (about 300g) finely chopped
  • Large bunch of fresh mint (about 100g) finely chopped
  • 50ml Olive Oil

Wash bulgur wheat and pour enough boiling water over to cover it by 1cm. Let it stand for about 10 minutes, drain in a sieve and press out remaining liquid. Meanwhile chop the onions and chilli pepper and put into a large wide bowl. Add the bulgur and mix well add the salt, pepper, chilli flakes, oil and lemon juice and mix well. Chop tomatoes, wash and dry the herbs and finely chop, add these to the tabbouleh and mix well. Leave to marinade for 1 hour before serving so that all the flavours infuse and the bulgur becomes plump as it soaks up the juices. Tabbouleh can keep for two to three days, in the fridge, so leftovers are never wasted. Serve as part of a Mezze with pita bread and hummus.htm or to accompany fried or grilled food. 14/6/2006:

Strawberry & Wild Mint Soup

28 May

I first tasted this fabulous dessert in a small restaurant in Anduze. I was intrigued by the name so I just had to try it. When pudding came it was a refreshing and simple bowl of strawberries marinated in a syrup of wine, herbs and sugar. The syrup was seasoned with a herb, I recognised as our cat always comes back smelling of it. The waitress explained that the herb was wild mint that had been gathered from the mountainside that morning. We have the stuff growing all over our mountain and in the summer months this dessert hits the spot.
Serves 4

  • 500g Organic Strawberries, washed and sliced lengthwise.
  • 100g Caster sugar
  • handful of fresh wild mint, washed and minced
  • 100ml of sweet wine or dry vermouth (or to taste)
  • Squeeze of lime or lemon (optional)

Combine the strawberries, sugar, wine and mint together and leave in the fridge for 1 hour so that the juices flow from the strawberries to make a syrup with the sugar. If it is not syrupy enough just add a little water to make a syrup consistency you are happy with, stir and serve. Alternatively make a syrup separately making it this way you can add more of the wine and boil off some of the alcohol.

Cook’s Tip Wild mint has a strong peppery taste with slightly fury leaves. If you can’t find such a herb ordinary mint may work and you could add a dash of black pepper for a bit of spice. I’ve tried making this pudding with white wine, sweet red pudding wine and Noilly Prat, a dry vermouth from Marseille, i prefer it with the vermouth.
Gardeners Tip Wild Mint also known as Water / Marsh Mint, Whorled Mint or Hairy Mint is common in Britain and found all over temperate and Northern Europe and Russian Asia.