Grow Your Own Asian Herb Garden

As the days are getting longer and warmer, many are starting up their gardens for the year. Consider adding a few herbs commonly found in Asian cooking to your garden to try new flavours and ways of cooking. There is nothing better than harvesting your own herbs and enjoying them fresh with your meal.

Cilantro

Garden fresh cilantro

A herb commonly found in many gardens, Cilantro is also known as coriander leaf and Chinese parsley.

Cuisines: Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Mexican, Indian
Can be found in dishes like: Cilantro Pesto Shrimp Tostadas, Cilantro Beef Stew, Cilantro Peanut Soba Noodles

How to grow it:
Cilantro should be grown in the spring or fall when the weather is cool. It requires sun, but not a lot of heat. Cilantro is best grown from seeds as it grows quickly and doesn’t like being transplanted. When it starts to flower, remove the flowers to keep the cilantro thriving.

How to use it:
Cilantro loses its flavor quickly when it is dried or cooked. It is best used fresh and immediately after harvest. Add cilantro to your favorite dishes just before serving. If you want to preserve it, try freezing it in ice cube trays with water.

Lemongrass

Lemongrass stalks | גבעולי למון גראס

These hardy stalks are packed full of flavor. They smell strongly of lemon, but offer a unique flavor of their own when cooked.

Cuisine: Thai, Vietnamese
Can be found in dishes like:Vietnamese Noodle Bowl, Thai Chicken Soup, Lemongrass Pork Meatballs

How to grow it:
Growing lemongrass is very simple. Start off with a stalk of lemongrass from your supermarket. You want one that is green in the center layers – the greener the better. Remove the dry outer layers, and submerge the ends in an inch of water in a jar. Change the water every day for 3 – 4 weeks, and soon you will see the roots have sprouted. When the roots have reached 2 inches, you can move it to a pot with drainage holes. Lemongrass needs lots of sun and water so be sure to keep it in a window and water as necessary to keep to the soil moist, but not wet.

How to use it:
To get to the juicy and flavorful parts of the lemongrass, remove the outer layers. The stalk can be chopped up and added to stir fries and marinades. You can also smash it to release its juices. Lemongrass is great in a marinade and the leaves of lemongrass can be used to steep tea or to make a simple flavored syrup.

Thai Basil

Thai Basil Jul 27, 2013 2-022
Thai Basil is a sweet basil that is native to Southeast Asia. It has a stronger spicier flavor than its well-known cousin, sweet basil. The leaves are flatter and have a slight purple tinge.

Cuisines: Thai, Vietnamese + anywhere you use sweet basil
Can be found in dishes like: Thai Basil Pesto, Thai Chicken Pizza, Thai Eggplant Rounds

How to Grow:
You can grow Thai basil from cuttings of the herb as well as from seeds using similar methods to cilantro and lemongrass above. Thai basil requires a lot of sunlight, and regular watering. Frequent harvesting will prolong the life of the plant.  Flowering can be delayed by pinching or clipping off new flower buds.

How to Use:
Basil is best fresh, but can be preserved by drying or by freezing in water in ice cube trays. To get all the basil flavor and basil oil out, tear it rather than chop with a knife. Try to add your basil just before serving to get its full aroma. Cooking basil tends to make the minty flavor of basil come out.

Garlic (Chinese) chives

Garlic Chives

Garlic chives have a mild garlic flavor. Both the leaves and the stalks of the flowers are used similarly to chives, green onions or garlic. These chives are great if you’re after a garlic flavor, but don’t want it to overpower a dish.

Cuisines: Chinese, Japanese, Korean + anywhere you use regular chives
Can be found in dishes like:Vegetable Pancake, Garlic Chives with Ground Pork, Garlic Chive Chutney

How to Grow:
Garlic chives grow easily from seeds, but if you have some, or can get access to some, they will also grow easily from bulbs. Garlic chives are very forgiving during the growing process so if you forget to water them, they will be okay for a couple of days.

How to Use:
Fresh garlic chives have the strongest flavor, but you can preserve them by chopping them up to dry. To use, trim off the root and the white parts and chop it up like you would with regular chives or scallions.

What kind of herbs are you planning on growing this year?

Photos: 1. Q Family // 2. Dorami Chan // 3. F Delventhal // 4. twistedstringknits

Leave a Reply