This is not a sexy post. At least, not so if you define sexy in fattened goose livers and truffles from Alba. This is as many of our posts, practical. If you want foie gras, Iranian caviar, Alba truffles and more of the same, you may book the Degustation menu in Chef Lij’s restaurant. Otherwise, here, we make simple food easy and tasty for homely everyday cooking.
In fancy fine dining restaurants like the one Chef Lij works in, herbs and micro-greens are ordered and delivered daily. This means there is nary a wilted parsley or micro green in your garnish. He orders through a complex system of purveyors who specially supply restaurants and where necessary, will fly in food cargo to special terminals for express delivery, all the while being stored at optimal temperatures and humidity during transporation. But, again, this is not a fancy restaurant, it is our humble home kitchen and our purveyors are the supermarkets and markets of the Middle East. We do not have access to daily harvested herbs nor the space for a herb garden and if you shop on the wrong day of the week, you will get herbs that look ready for the compost heap instead of your dinner plate.
Since market day is only once per week, fresh herbs have a 7-day cycle. They only get worse as the week wears on. At least, until you start applying the tricks we gleaned from our Dubai-based chef and food stylist friend, Fiona Archibold. Fiona is one of the premier food stylists in the country and has a solid background as a private chef (Ferrari among her former clients). When a real food lover tells us something about extending the life of food, we listen.
Usually, I would put herbs in a ziploc bag in the fridge with a dry paper towel. That was better than leaving it out on the counter but so it leaving them in a bucket of water- but that only lasts a day or so before the stems begin to get water-logged and start to rot. I love fresh herbs so, I end up having a lot of waste as I try to get batches from different sources that look a little better from the last. I would dump batches of parsley, coriander, parsley and dill weekly because they just couldn’t stay fresh and looked pathetic after a few days. Alas, no more!
Here is our confession. The naked truth. The coriander/cilantro pictured is over 2 weeks old. No, we are not joking. Yes, we are telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
The secret is lining an airtight container with a few sheets of damp paper towel, then adding the herbs and spraying with a mist with either a brumisateur or a small spray bottle that sprays a light mist (use spring water). Cover the herbs (you may put several kinds together) and keep refrigerated. Take out what you need and put them back in the fridge. We have been keeping these for an experiment to see how long they will look and taste fresh. So, far, it’s two weeks and counting! If this doesn’t excite you, then you will have to tell us just what will!