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In season late winter: Rosemary, bok choy, kaffir lime leaves, shallots

Rosemary

This herb is rich in antioxidant flavonoids, although we only get small amounts from the quantities we use.

Use

Culinary rosemary is an evergreen herb that grows as an upright shrub (not to be confused with the prostrate varieties, which don’t contain as much aromatic oil in their leaves and therefore tend to be less successful for cooking).

Rosemary has a distinctive aroma of pine needles, and is a classic herb in Mediterranean cuisine, pairing well with roasted meats and vegetables, garlic, olive oil, and bread and pizza.

Recipe idea

Garlic and rosemary chicken with cheesy polenta

Bok choy

Bok choy is an excellent source of folate. This cruciferous vegetable also contains glucosinolates (although in smaller amounts than its cabbage family cousins), which are thought to fight cancer.

Use

Bok choy, also spelt pak choi, bok choi and pak choy, has been cultivated in China for over 5000 years. It is usually added to stir-fries and soups, but can also be eaten raw in salads or sandwiches.

Bok choy keeps in the fridge for up to six days, but don’t wash it until you’re ready to use it. Break off and rinse each leaf, cutting the thicker, white part of the leaves into smaller pieces and adding earlier to your cooking, as they will take slightly longer to cook than the green.

Recipe ideas

Teriyaki salmon with stir-fried greens and brown rice
Chicken satay skewers with peanut dipping sauce
Char kway teow

Kaffir lime leaves

Adding kaffir lime leaves to a meal gives us tiny amounts of the thousands of different polyphenols, found in the plant foods we eat, that are thought to act together to enhance our health.

Use

The kaffir lime, Citrus hystrix, is a small, frost-tender and extremely thorny citrus tree with a knobbly green fruit, but it is the leaves that are used in cooking. These highly aromatic and resinous leaves give that instantly recognisable Thai flavour to curries, soups and spice mixes.

Plant the tree in a warm frost-free spot, or in a pot, and use the leaves fresh. Otherwise, you can buy them in Asian groceries and freeze them for two to three months in a zip-lock bag.

Recipe idea

Sayur lodeh (Malay vegetable curry)

Shallots

Shallots are part of the allium family, along with onion and garlic, and contain antioxidant sulphur compounds.

Use

These sweet little onions are mild in flavour and ideal for eating raw, finely sliced, in winter salads or dressings, or as a base in cooked dishes. Although they can replace onions in recipes, they have their own unique flavour and are best when not overwhelmed by other, more dominant flavours.

Store

shallots as you would onions — for up to a month in a dark, airy space. You can also keep them in the fridge, but they won’t last as long this way.

Recipe ideas

Sayur lodeh (Malay vegetable curry)
Red curry chicken noodle soup

First published: Aug 2016



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