Kitchen Tips

Best of the Bunch: Bright Ideas for Using Asian Herbs

Don’t let that bunch of herbs wilt in the bottom of your refrigerator. Breathe new life into coriander, Thai basil, kaffir lime, betel and Vietnamese mint leaves by using them in these creative springtime recipes featuring Asian herbs.

Coriander

Got a bunch of coriander (or cilantro) in the fridge? Don’t let those aromatic leaves go to waste. Mash an avocado with a squeeze of lime, a handful of chopped coriander and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, then pile it onto sourdough toast. Simply garnish with freshly sliced red chilli and crumbled feta for breakfast on the run, or add a poached egg and smoked salmon for an indulgent weekend brunch.

Cilantro

Or, why not make a zesty coriander and wasabi butter by blitzing chilled butter, chopped coriander, spring onions, crushed garlic and wasabi paste to taste. Roll into a cylinder and enclose in baking paper, then freeze for at least one hour. Slice and serve over grilled corn cobs or a barbecued salmon steak.

And don’t throw out the coriander roots either! Rinse well, then add to curry pastes for added flavour without the hit of green.

Thai sweet basil

For a Thai take on pesto, place sweet Thai basil leaves, cashew nuts, grated parmesan cheese, crushed garlic and dried chilli flakes in a food processor or mortar in pestle. Blitz or pound until combined, then slowly mix in oil until you have a coarse paste. This Thai basil pesto is ideal for marinating seafood skewers or serving with grilled chicken.

basil- 10 Tips that come handy in Kitchen

For a fancy Thai garnish, heat sunflower oil in a wok to 180°C (a cube of bread will turn golden in 30 seconds when the oil is hot enough). Add Thai basil leaves (make sure they are completely dry) and fry for 15-30 seconds until crisp. Scoop out with a metal strainer and drain on paper towel. Serve over soups, curries and salads for a crunchy, colourful garnish.

Kaffir lime

You may only need one or two kaffir lime leaves for your tom yum goong, so what will you do with the remainder? Finely shred kaffir lime leaves into a chiffonade (brush up on your knife skills here), then swirl the shredded leaves, a squeeze of lime juice and a sprinkle of paprika into thick Greek-style yoghurt. Dollop over roast sweet potatoes, carrots and pumpkin wedges.

Kaffir Lime Leaves2

Betel leaves

To make showstopping canapes for your next dinner party, try a contemporary take on mieng kam. Top betel leaves with ocean trout tartare flavoured with finger limes, fresh coconut and chives, garnished with trout roe and fried shallots.

Miang kham

Vietnamese mint

For a refreshing Asian twist on a mojito, switch the regular mint for Vietnamese mint, muddling with white rum, lime wedges and palm sugar, then top with ice and soda water.

Vietnamese Mint

For fresh herbs on tap, read our guide to six easy vegetables and herbs to grow in your own backyard, or check out our seasonal guide to spring produce.

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