Sauces: Types of Herbs

Basil

  • works well with saffron, garlic, and olive oil
  • irrestible with Mediterranean fish sauces
  • works best when added at end of sauce's cooking
  • flavour will dissapate if cooked for more than a few minutes
  • will turn black when chopped, best to dribble a litte extra-virgin olive oil over leaves before chopping
  • does not dry well
  • can be frozen if chopped finely with olive oil and stored in tightly sealed plastic containers

Bay Leaf

  • if cooked for more than an hour will lend a gentle complexity to stews and to red wine and game sauces
  • must gauge amount carefully or the flavour either will be too dominating or will dissappear altogether
  • can use dried bay leaf, but break in two and sniff to ensure it is not stale
  • avoid California bay leaves as they have an agressive eucalyptus flavour

Chervil

  • one of the most delicate herbs
  • fresh chervil has a delicate anise flavour, vaguely reminiscent of tarragon but far more subtle and fleeting
  • only use in last few minutes of cooking
  • flavour is lost when used with tarragon
  • one of the four herbs in the classic mixture fines herbes

Chives

  • use at end of cooking to impart it's delicate, onion-like flavour
  • when cooked for a minute or two the flavour will meld with other components and give a sauce renewed vitality
  • unlike onions or shallots, chives are never overly assertive
  • chives should always be chopped finely