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Basic guide to herbs
10 October, 2018

A guide to basic herb tastes and combinations

Just like people, herbs and spices are not meant to be alone. They thrive best in company with other ingredients and complimentary herbs and spices. Knowing which herbs and spices go well together will make it easier and more fun to create authentic, exotic dishes at home without having to resort to premade sauces and marinades from the supermarket.

With this post, we give you an introduction to the most basic herbs, their tastes and which ones fit together like knife and fork.

Basil

Basil has a sweet, warm, peppery taste and is famous for its use in the Italian kitchen. Basil works well with most other herbs:

  • Parsley, lemon balm, oregano, rosemary, chives, dill, mint and coriander.

Coriander

Coriander bears a unique, lemon-like taste and is popularly used in the Asian and Mexican kitchens. The taste is sweet, but pungent, so use it carefully. Combine with herbs like:

  • Lemon balm, parsley, chives, oregano and basil.

Parsley

Bitter and fresh herb with subtle hints of celery. Parsley is incredibly popular in Europe and America, and plays well with herbs like:

  • Basil, oregano, dill, sage and lemon balm.

Oregano

Oregano has a warm, pungent flavour with a lemon-like aroma. It works great with these herbs:

  • Basil, parsley, sage, chives, coriander, mint and thyme.

Chives

Delicate, fresh and onion-like flavour. Very popular in Scandinavia, where it is used with everything from eggs to bread. Combines nicely with herbs like:

  • Basil, coriander, dill, oregano, parsley, tarragon and thyme.

Dill

A refreshing and slightly sweet taste with a hint of cumin. Dill plays well with many of the other herbs popular in Eastern European and Scandinavian food:

  • Basil, chives, oregano, mint, parsley and tarragon.

Mint

Mint has a strong, cool and refreshing mint taste. Perfect for cocktails, desserts or a nice roast lamb. The taste is pungent, so combine it carefully with:

  • Basil, parsley, oregano and tarragon.

Rosemary

Rosemary has a piquant, pine-like taste and aroma that goes well with both meat and bread. Try experimenting with these combinations:

  • Oregano, sage, parsley and thyme.

Thyme

Thyme has a sweet, nutty and lightly spicy flavour, making it great for marinades and most meat dishes. It goes well with these herbs:

  • Basil, chives, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage and tarragon.

Tarragon

A summery, piquant, mild aniseed-flavour. May drown the taste of other herbs, so use it sparsely with:

  • Basil, parsley, dill, mint and thyme.

How to combine the herbs

When using several herbs in your dish, it is recommended to use slightly smaller amounts. If you are in doubt whether you have used enough, you can always taste and adjust before serving. On a general note, try to avoid mixing two strong herbs together. Instead, go for a strong herb and one or more herbs with a milder taste to complement both the strong herb and the dish itself.

If you are cooking a stew, you can also combine small bundles of fresh herbs in a bouquet garni and let it cook with the dish. Read more about bouquet garni here

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