Friday, April 23, 2010

Asian aromatics

Clockwise from top left - kaffir limes and its leaves, galangal, tumeric leave (daun kunyit) and lemon grass

I love the aromatic fragrance of fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme, sage and basil as they give such a wonderful lift to Western dishes but closer to home is the range of Asian herbs.
Geylang market in Singapore is one of the best places to go to for these herbs and I love the vibrancy and pulse of this recently refurbished place. It has herbs that are difficult to find in supermarkets and other wet markets such as tumeric leaves (daun kunyit) which flavour my favourite rendang, a dry curry that is a popular in Singapore. This and other basics that I must have in my fridge are fresh lemon grass, galangal (blue ginger), kaffir lime and its leaves. The "holy trinity" of lemon grass, galangal and kaffir leaves gives a lemony, citrusy aromatic base to many Asian dishes such as tom yum and curries.
There is also the kaffa lime which is distinguished from ordinary limes by its bumpy exterior and slightly elongated neck. Its zest and kaffir leaves are essential to Thai curries, differentiating its taste from the Indian ones. Some of these herbs mentioned such as daun kunyit and kaffir limes leaves can be kept in zip lock bags and placed in the freezer. This way, it lasts a little longer and saves one's time from constant replenshing.

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