The Root of All Things |

The Root of All Things

It always amazes me how much people waste when it comes to preparing fresh herbs. After picking the leaves from soft herbs to chop and add to our dishes, I often see people discarding the stalks.

Instead, I am a strong proponent of keeping herb stalks for our fresh stocks and consommes, as stalks are often the root of all flavour, and in many cases it is the actual root, base and stalk that hold the most compact flavour--and should never be discarded!
This definitely applies to fresh Coriander (Cilantro), used in many Asian dishes such as laksas and tomyums. Most of these recipes call for three or four different herbs such as basil, mint and lemon balm which all add great elements to the dish. But it is coriander that can be chopped stalk and leaf and added to release its robust flavour. In fact, the leaf of coriander is rather mild in comparison to the stalk--but the real flavour is in the root, which should be thoroughly scrubbed and cleaned, and then very finely chopped or grated before being lightly fried in a little sesame oil or peanut oil to release its true pungent flavour and depth in a dish.

I particularly like to blend a whole bunch of coriander stalks, roots and leaves when preparing my Asian pesto, and I often liquidize the stalk and root with egg whites for the clarification of a chicken consomme--this adds a robust and delicious under-balance to the soup!


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