7 Uncommonly Used Herbs That May Inspire Your Next Meal

1. Thyme

We don’t talk much about this herb, but it’s about thyme. If you’ve tried the ice cream at Birds of Paradise at either Jewel Changi Airport or Katong, you’ll be familiar with its smell. This herb is not common in Asian cooking but you can find a good number of Western recipes that use thyme with their meats. Thyme has a strong, spicy smell but at the same time, it is pleasant and therapeutic. Outside of cooking, it is also known to help with bronchitis, cough, sore throats and flatulence when ingested.

2. Morels

These guys have expensive caps. Morels are a type of mushroom that look like an ugly mutation, like its cap grew inside out. However, they are coveted by French chefs for their taste and are expensive to obtain. The ridges and craters on the surface of these elongated caps make them very good at sponging up sauces. I’m sure by now you’re getting some ideas!

3. Kombu

You will often see these in Japanese markets – dried up, dark green and long leaves packed individually. Kombu is a type of kelp that is most commonly used to make dashi, a soup stock. It has a mild, briny taste that is not unpleasant, and has texture like thinly sliced mushrooms. No, Kombucha is not tea made with kombu; they’re not related in the slightest.

4. Green Peas

The bane of every child’s existence, second only to brussel sprouts. But green peas are actually more pleasant than most make it out to be. When prepared right, one can bring out its creamy texture and slightly floral flavour, and it can work very well to balance out some strong ocean flavours. Give these little ones another chance, pretty peas?

5. Zucchini

Looking like a more angular variant of the cucumber, the zucchini has been gaining popularity in our meals as European fare makes waves in our foodscape. This squash is tasty and versatile. High in potassium and vitamin C, use zucchini as a vegetable in your sandwich, fry them like chips, or even make pasta out of them!

6. Artichoke

Artichokes like look the larger, fresher and more alive version of a pine-cone. Cooking these seems a daunting task for those who have never tried them before. They taste similar to asparagus and have a texture akin to boiled potatoes. We usually only eat the leaves but not in its entirety, just the inner, fleshy area at the base of the leaf. All in all, the artichoke is a very pleasant vegetable to eat and they look very aesthetic when plated with your main dishes!

7. Urtica (Stinging Nettles)

Stinging nettles grow like weed; they grow pretty much anywhere, making them quite easy to find. And they taste like spinach. The only tricky thing is that, well, they sting, so handle them with gloves! However, the sting is easily deactivated through heat, therefore cooking these greens will tame them completely. Sautée them as a vegetable dish on its own, make a soup, or use its woody aroma as an abstract to flavour your dishes. It’s all in your imagination.