I am a wannabe frugal foodie. It frustrates me when I approach the herb section of the greengrocer to find that bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, sage, basil and parsley are packed in amounts that will never see full use in my kitchen. Fresh bay leaves are often sold in quantities of 20 but a recipe will only specify the use of two or three. I often only use parsley as a garnish for most of my dishes, but it is only sold in bunches. I am fraught with worry as to how I can best utilise these herbs before they deteriorate past being edible.
I have dreamed of having my own potted garden, perhaps a very cute one that hangs outside my kitchen window. It would excite my poor little heart to simply open a window and pick off the necessary leaves. It would not only be a lot cheaper but less wasteful.
It all came to a head when I was making this Indian-style Salmon Curry. The recipe called for 10-15 curry leaves. I have never cooked with curry leaves before and researched for substitutes as my local vegetable grocer only sold them in large bags of approximately 4 handfuls. I decided to use them and not a substitute to maintain the integrity of the recipe. However, after I had picked off the leaves that I needed, the bag still appeared like it had been untouched.
What am I to do? Please help me my dearest reader, do you have any useful herb tips?
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
400g tin chopped tomatoes
10-15 fresh curry leaves
250ml fish stock or chicken stock
1 teaspoon caster sugar
Juice of 1 lime
900g skinless salmon fillet, cut into 3cm cubes
Freshly ground black pepper
1/ Heat the oil in a large heavy-based pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until translucent.
2/ Add the cayenne, tomatoes, curry leaves and salt, then pour in the stock. Cook stirring frequently for 10 minutes.
3/ Add the sugar and lime juice and cook for 1-2 minutes.
4/ Add to the pan and simmer for 2-3 minutes, then remove from the heat. Set aside for 5 minutes with the lid on. This will allow the salmon to finish cooking in the residual heat.
5/ Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Tips from the cookbookmaniac
* I’m not sure what, but this needed an extra-special pinch of something to lift it from being ordinary to extraordinary. Perhaps I needed to fry the curry leaves with the onions instead of adding it with the tomatoes… or maybe it needed more cayenne pepper… or perhaps I should have let the sauce cook down a liitle more before adding the salmon.
* I served this with coconut rice and it made a lovely companion.
Please share this:
Yen@foodforfourMarch 19, 2010 at 9:43 pm
My parents grow asian herbs but for the western herbs I have to buy them and most of it end up dying at the bottom of my fridge. I wonder if you could freeze some of the herbs? I bought some rosemary and thyme today so I think I will freeze some.
How nice would it be to have your own herb garden. I’m determine to grow some herbs this year.
Btw, very delicious looking curry.
AnhMarch 20, 2010 at 1:01 am
Oh, I was looking at this very recipe the other day! it looks fab!
Ju (The Little Teochew)March 21, 2010 at 10:09 pm
OMG, beautiful dish, gorgeous photography! I get your dilemma with those herbs. But thankfully for me, my wet market sells in very small quantities. How about making a curry paste which you can freeze, using those herbs? Just a thought.
bettyMarch 22, 2010 at 10:49 pm
this looks great – curry is very simple to make but i tend to have many left over ingredients…
with the herb dilemma, could i suggest maybe grinding them with some olive oil – and storing in a glass container? as a paste? so you can have it readily available anytime – the oil will keep it for quite a while i’d assume??
pandaMarch 23, 2010 at 10:25 pm
i also have the same dilemna re. herbs. my goal this year is to grow my own so i’ll let you know how i go!
HannahApril 5, 2010 at 3:12 am
Sadly I belong to the “find wilted herbs at the bottom of the fridge and get exasperated” club, but when I remember I cut off and freeze the roots of coriander. They’re a great addition to curry pastes, and the loss of textural integrity from freezing doesn’t matter with such a use.
Growing your own herbs can be fraught with trickiness too, though – at my house, our rosemary keeps trying to take over the world, and our oregano, mint, and parsley all struggle!
TruffleMeApril 5, 2010 at 7:51 am
This curry looks similar to one we make as well, but we use coconut cream rather than stock. I wonder if it would taste just as good with stock instead…
You can freeze a lot of the Asian herbs like curry leaves, chilli, lemon grass, kaffir lime, tumeric and galangal. We used to do this before we had our own herb and veggie patch. Now we grow a lot of our own herbs – except for ginger, galangal and tumeric as they don’t like Melbourne’s cold climate. It’s wonderful to be able to just pick herbs fresh from the garden whenever required.
kadieFebruary 8, 2014 at 1:12 pm
I would try chopping them up and then putting the in a empty plastic bottle with the lid on and freezing the herbs. it works for chives. why not other herbs? you can also make “herb cubes” in ice cube trays chop herb desired herb mixes fill and then add melted better or oil and freeze.