THE GROW­ING DE­MAND FOR CULI­NARY HERBS

Agriculture - - For Aroma -

THE CON­TIN­U­OUS FU­SION of Western and Asian culi­nary arts and in­no­va­tions have made the use of herbs pop­u­lar in Filipino cook­ing, which now fea­tures a vi­brant as­sort­ment of herbs and spices from all over the world. Many of our most pop­u­lar dishes have come to blend our own trop­i­cal in­gre­di­ents with fla­vors from Europe and the Amer­i­cas, China, Thai­land, and the Mid­dle East, to cater to our chang­ing food pref­er­ences. Herbs are leaves and some­times stems of a group of aro­matic, non-woody plants used in cook­ing and also for medic­i­nal pur­poses. Fresh herbs en­hance the fla­vor of soups, sal­ads, and main dishes with­out the ill ef­fects on the body of the ex­ces­sive use of salt, soy sauce, patis (fish sauce) or ba­goong (fer­mented shrimp). Food sim­ply tastes bet­ter with herbs, es­pe­cially when the herbs used are fresh.

In­di­vid­ual or mixed herbs im­part an aro­matic qual­ity to food. The fla­vor comes from the oil stored in the leaves, which is re­leased when the herb is crushed, chopped, or heated. Par­tic­u­lar herbs suit dif­fer­ent styles of cook­ing, and ev­ery cui­sine has its fa­vorites. Those of the Mid­dle East fa­vor oregano, mint, and dill while Thai cui­sine uses much co­rian­der and le­mon grass. Ital­ian cui­sine fa­vors basil, pars­ley, and oregano, and the French pre­fer tar­ragon, chervil, and fen­nel. Another rea­son for the high de­mand for culi­nary herbs is be­cause cooks no longer just add sim­ple spices like gar­lic, onions, toma­toes, and ginger for taste. Herbs have be­come an es­sen­tial in­gre­di­ent for en­hanc­ing, com­ple­ment­ing, and even defin­ing the fla­vors of a dish. The ju­di­cious use of herbs chopped finely or boiled and used in the broth for spe­cific food prepa­ra­tions el­e­vates cook­ing to a new level.

Herbs have high con­cen­tra­tions of an­tiox­i­dants, which have been es­tab­lished to have prop­er­ties that help in pre­vent­ing de­gen­er­a­tive dis­eases, in­clud­ing can­cers, car­dio-vas­cu­lar dis­eases, and even di­a­betes.

The most com­mon herbs in the mar­ket are basil, chives, co­rian­der, le­mon balm, mint, oregano, pars­ley, rose­mary, sage, tar­ragon, and thyme. One can also find dill, chervil, fen­nel, and laven­der.

BASIL

The “king of herbs” is one of the most rec­og­nized, loved, and even revered herbs, con­sid­ered holy in many cul­tures around the world. It fea­tures promi­nently in Ital­ian cui­sine; the fresh leaves, whole or torn, are used in a Caprese salad, on pizza, and in home­made pesto. A sauce of fresh basil leaves ground with gar­lic, pine nuts, and olive oil can be spread over hot pasta just be­fore serv­ing. Basil also plays a ma­jor role in the cuisines of In­done­sia, Thai­land, Malaysia, Viet­nam, Cam­bo­dia, Laos, and Tai­wan in South­east Asia.

Sweet or Mediter­ranean basil

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