CarolCooks2…Friday Food Reviews…Aromatic Leaves…Part 4…

Welcome to Friday Food Reviews, where I will cover a different food or product each week and look at… what they are.  where do they grow, what can we substitute them for in a recipe, and are they safe to eat, store, use, cook, or anything connected to that food? or product..all the why’s and the wherefores…it will, of course, be mainly my own opinion or a known fact…good or bad…there may even be a tried and tested recipe…or three… today I am looking at…Aromatic Leaves…Part 4.

Why am I looking at aromatic leaves?… As you know I am a foodie and I am always looking at recipes…many recipes especially Asian ones make use of aromatic leaves which are different from soft-leafed herbs like coriander and mint etc…

Many leaves that are native to other countries are now finding their way around the world as either dried or frozen I think that is great as we can widen our cooking repertoire and experience other flavours…some of which we may not like and others which may become a staple in our spice collection…

Sassafras…Native to Eastern North America Sassafras roots were traditionally used to flavour root beer, but the leaves are a necessary ingredient in Louisiana gumbo…I’m guessing that some of my US readers will be familiar with this leaf and its culinary uses…

Gumbo is a thickened stew using either Okra, a roux( flour and fat) which is the French influence or the Choctaw spice called “file” which is dried, ground Sassafras leaves. Dried and ground to a powder the earthy, mild green “file” acts as a traditional thickening agent and lends body and substance to soups and stews without additional starch…my version of gumbo…

Hoja Santas Leaves… Hoja Santa (pronounced O-hah SAN-tah) is a herb commonly used in the cuisines of central and southern Mexico to flavour many savoury dishes. Appearing in Mexican dishes such as Oaxacan mole Verde and the soothing hominy soup, pozole, hoja santa is a wide aromatic leaf comparable in flavour to liquorice, sassafras, and tarragon.

The leaves are also used by some to use as wraps for wheels of cheese, like goat’s cheese as it infuses the cheese with a grassy, anise-like flavour.

The herb can be used both fresh and dried, but fresh is preferred and necessary when wrapping food; dried the leaves becomes brittle and lose their flavour…some leaves can grow up to one foot across…Hoja santa has an unusual and quite complex flavour which is stronger in the younger, more tender leaves. This herb contains the same oils as the sassafras tree, which is used to make root beer… in the southern United States, hoja santa is actually known as the root beer plant.

Nasturtium Leaves…This delicate, floppy, vibrant-green leaf (whose colourful flowers are also edible) is delicious and has a peppery bite..and one of the leaves I am familiar with and have used in my kitchen…Add a handful to salads for a refreshing crunch akin to watercress, or use the larger lily pad-like leaves for a quick-cooking variation on dolmas…

But did you know? that in their native environment of the Andes the leaves can grow up to four feet across…they would dwarf most if not all of the nasturtiums that we grow don’t you think? with leaves that big I wonder how big the flowers are…

Shiso Leaves…Native to Japan, Korea, and India, and also cultivated in the United States and Canada… on having a quick google its likely I can obtain the shisho leaf here…this teardrop-shaped leaf is called shiso in Japan, and perilla(Thailand) or deulkkae in Korea.

Smaller and softer, Japanese shiso can occur in green or purple varieties, the latter of which is used for colouring umeboshi (Japanese salt plums)…a type of pickled plum, known for its extremely sour and salty taste. The acidity is so intense that it makes your face pucker and lips crumple…an acquired taste methinks but very popular…

Green shiso is often enjoyed fresh as a herb or garnish. Korean perilla is more substantial, with a spicy flavour similar to cinnamon and anise. When marinated and fermented, deulkkae are called kkaennip jangajji and are a popular Korean banchan (snack served with rice).

Thank you for joining me today I hope you have enjoyed reading about these aromatic leaves some of which you may be familiar with as I am and some I will be keeping my eyes open for as always I look forward to your comments xx

15 thoughts on “CarolCooks2…Friday Food Reviews…Aromatic Leaves…Part 4…

  1. Pingback: CarolCooks2 weekly roundup… 11th -17th September 2022-Monday Musings, Mushroom, Spinach Eggy Crumpets with Feta Cheese and Thyme , Health, Morbid Obesity, Aromatic Leaves…and Saturday Snippets where “Bread” is my one word prompt. | Retired? No one

  2. D. Wallace Peach

    Thanks for sharing, Carol. Sassafras and Nosturium are familiar to me but not the others. I used to make sassafras root tea when camping as a kid, then I started feeling bad about pulling up the saplings. 🙂 I didn’t know that the leaves could also be used! Thanks for the fun post.

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    1. CarolCooks2 Post author

      They are also a very pretty plant and before I knew what I now know I grew them just for their prettiness.. I use bay leaves often but also leaves especially as wraps as they impart a wonderful flavour I’m hard pressed to pick a favourite.. Enjoy your weekend, Marian 😊 x

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    1. CarolCooks2 Post author

      Nasturtium leaves are lovely in a salad…I’m hoping I can get some shisho leaves as for the other two I’m going to try and see if I can…I love having something to search for…x

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