Tiny yet tasty, herbs have been long revered for their wide range of properties. Crave goes into the garden to find out more.
Text by Debbie Soo, captions by Tiffany Tse, photos by Samantha Sin
Special thanks to Cépage, Great, Greenfingers Florist Co., Ltd. and Homeless
With notes of cloves and allspice, bay leaf is a perfect marinade for Greek and Middle Eastern kebabs, masking the meat with pungent, sharp bitter flavours. In Thai or Arab-influenced cuisine, its sweet perfume qualities and spicy attributes are used in massaman curry.
Also known as balm mint, this savoury herb exudes an intense lemon fragrance only when fresh. Easily recognised by its toothed, heart-shaped leaves, it gives summer-inspired dishes a zesty kick. Rich in antioxidants, lemon balm is commonly found in herbal tea, syrups, sauces and infused oils.
Daikon cress is called kaiware in Japan and is grown from a local radish seed. These miniature heart-shaped leaves have a spicy, lingering horseradish aftertaste and make a delightful garnish to fish dishes containing tuna, salmon, mackerel or herring.
Elongated green leaves and multicoloured stems in yellow, pink and crimson distinguish micro chard from other microgreens. Chard leaves are similar to spinach, with a mild but assertive bitter flavour that pairs well with fish and poultry. High in iron and vitamins A, C and K.
This versatile Genovese baby herb has a balmier and more concentrated flavour than full-sized basil. It imbues Thai food and dishes such as corn fritters with a subtle peppery flavour that evolves into a slightly sweet taste. The combination of baby basil, lightly toasted pine nuts and garlic makes delicious pesto sauce.
Prized in French cuisine, this fine herb has a similar flavour to liquorice and parsley when mature. It is easily recognised by its attractive feathery leaves and fern-like attributes. This aromatic plant with hollow stems is a good source of dietary fibre and iron. It pairs well with eggs, fish, light sauces and vinegar.
The different parts of this peppery aquatic plant have paradoxical tastes: the juicy stems have a cooling effect, while the heart-shaped leaves are slightly bitter and buttery with traces of arugula and radish flavour. It pairs well with trout, cheese, potage and seared mackerel. It is high in calcium and vitamin K.
Red Mustard Cress
Imported from the Netherlands, this cress has a mild mustard fragrance with notes of cauliflower. It complements vegetable purées, hearty meat dishes and mustard soup, and is an important source of folic acid and calcium. Its anti-scorbutic and anti-bacterial qualities also help fend off infections.
The mini version of red amaranth, these Burgundy microgreens have beautiful foliage and crimson blooms. It tastes like beetroot and spinach, and is ideal for spicing up fish and scrambled egg dishes. High concentrations of protein and antioxidants make it useful medicinally for reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
The unusual, smooth reddish-purple leaves have a distinctively stronger flavour than common basil. Often found in insalata caprese, purple basil brings a vibrant splash of colour that brightens up any dish. The microgreen contains abundant nutrients, such as vitamins A and C, potassium and iron.
Derived from the Latin salvare, sage means “to heal or to save”. This furred, lance-shaped greyish herb has medicinal properties, aids digestion and is a good source of calcium, iron and potassium. Strongly earthy and woody-flavoured, it is commonly found in pâté, vegetable soup, and pork and poultry dishes.
Not to be confused with anise, these dill-like shoots have a tangy aniseed flavour and are often used in meatballs or Italian sausages. Fennel leaves have pungent seeded caps reminiscent of black liquorice. Best tucked into speciality sandwiches, micro fennel also pairs well with salad, seafood, potatoes and oranges.