Herbs 101: How to Chiffonade, Pair Flavors, and More

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Cooking with fresh herbs can really enhance the flavors of any dish. Don't fret though, follow these tips to master prepping, handling, and cooking with all sorts of fresh, delicious, herbs.

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Prepping herbs is an important first step

First things first--wash and dry your herbs before using, just like you would with any produce. But it's important that your herbs are totally dry before you start chopping.

Don't wash them until just before you're ready to use them--any extra moisture can decrease their shelf life.

To wash: be gentle! Run them under a gentle stream of cool water or put them in a large bowl of cool water and swish them around with your hands.

To dry, spin them in a salad spinner or blot them dry (gently!) with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel.

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How to chop your herbs

Different herbs require different treatment for the best outcome. And, as always, a sharp knife (or kitchen scissors) is essential for good outcome.

Parsley, Dill, Cilantro
Chop off the thick bottom of the stems and toss. Chop the remaining stem and leaves. The stems are delicious, so it's not necessary to pick off each individual leaf.

Bay leaves
These should stay whole. Drop them into whatever your cooking as they are and fish out before serving.

Fennel
This one is a bit more complicated to break down. Check out Better Homes and Gardens for a good tutorial.

Mint, Basil, Sage
For these, you want just the leaves, so pluck each from their stems. You can hand-tear the leaves into small pieces. Trying to chop these with a knife will bruise these tender herbs.
You can also chiffonade these herbs (check out the sick gif above for a demonstration). This involves stacking the leaves, rolling your stack into a tight cylinder, and slicing down the cylinder for small little ribbons of delicious herbs.

Thyme, Rosemary, Oregano, Tarragon
These guys are super hardy, so you definitely don't want their woody stalks in your dish. Strip the leaves by holding the sprig from the top end, pinch with your other hand, and slide your fingers down length of the stem. Or, if you prefer kitchen tools to do your work for you, try an herb stripper, like this one.
Once all your leaves are departed from their stems, piled them up and mince to your targeted size.

Chives
Kitchen scissors are the way to go here. Hold the chive at one end and chop chop chop to the desired size.

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Pair your herbs

Fish
- Fennel
- Dill
- Cilantro
- Dill
- Parsley

Shellfish
- Bay leaf

Beef
- Rosemary

Chicken
- Literally anything

Pork
- Rosemary
- Mint

Lamb
- Rosemary
- Mint

Eggs
- Tarragon
- Basil
- Chives
- Oregano
- Rosemary

Peaches/Plums/Apricots
- Basil
- Mint
- Thyme

Melon
- Cilantro
- Mint
- Parsley

Berries
- Mint

Potatoes
- Rosemary
- Bay leaves
- Chives
- Sage
- Thyme

Sausage
- Bay leaf
- Sage

Soups and stews
- Bay leaf
- Chives
- Cilantro
- Parsley
- Thyme

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