- Coriander Leaves (Cilantro) – Native to Southern Europe and the Middle East
- Shiso – Migrated to Japan in the 8th century from China, and is still widely used there today.
- Chives – Native to the cooler parts of Europe and Asia.
- French Sorrel – Believed to have its origins in the south of France, Switzerland, Italy and Germany.
- Fennel – Native to Italy.
Coriander Leaves (Cilantro)
Cilantro has a fresh, grassy, pervading, insect-like aroma, and lemony, clean, appetizing taste. It is one of the most ancient of herbs, being mentioned in the bible, Coriander seeds found in the tombs of pharaohs, and it was known to be a favorite among the Greeks, Hebrews and Romans of antiquity. It is used mostly in Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern, Peruvian, and Mexican recipes.
The ancient Chinese believed that consuming coriander would confer immortality.
Red Shiso or perilla is an ancient edible and medicinal herb also known as beefsteak or wild basil. The bright red/purple leaves have a pleasant, earthy flavor with clove undertones, reminiscent of basil, and are best eaten when young and tender.
Pepsi released a Limited edition green Shiso flavored soda sold during summer 2009.
The smallest member of the onion family, only the leaves are eaten, as the small, elongated bulb is virtually non-existent. Add chives to dishes that are being cooked for a short time, such as omelets, fish, and white sauces. For other applications, only include in the last 5-10 minutes of cooking as any prolonged heat will destroy much of the flavor. Use fresh, chopped chives as a garnish, or added to salad dressings.
Bunches of chives hung in your home were used to drive away diseases and evil.
The name “sorrel” is derived from an ancient Germanic word for sour, and it is this refreshing, lemon-like sharpness that has made sorrel an appropriate accompaniment to many dishes. Like spinach and rhubarb, sorrel must not be cooked in iron or aluminum pots as it will react with them and cause unpleasant flavors. Always use stainless steel utensils for cutting and cooking sorrel.
During the Medieval period it was often ground fresh with a small amount of vinegar and used as a meat sauce. Greensauce is an old name for Sorrel.
The lacy fronds have a delicate anise flavor and may be used in much the same way as green dill in salads and white sauces, with seafood and to garnish terrines, soups and aspic. Steaming a whole fish on a bed of fresh fennel foliage is a traditional way to impart its aromatic flavor during cooking.
In the 16th century fennel was the symbol of flattery, leading to the colloquial saying dare finocchio, which means “to give fennel.”
Ian Hemphill – Kate Hemphill – The Spice and Herb Bible – R. Rose – 2006