One of the nice things about growing your own herbs is that many of them are enthusiastic growers and you will often have more than you can possibly use.
This leads you to do things that you normally wouldn’t do, if you were buying your herb portions in $4 plastic packages at the supermarket.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) is one of those enthusiastic growers.
A cool thing I like to do is build an indirect heat pile in the grill, hack down a bunch of lemon balm stems, rinse them in water, and then put the herb on the grill as an aromatic base. Salmon is particularly tasty this way.
Unfortunately, mother nature has other plans for salmon this year and the lemon balm isn’t quite big enough to hack down.
Another enjoyable pass time of mine is to go to the Alemany Farmers’ Market a bit late. While you sometimes miss high demand items and even whole vendors, you do get the benefit of late market discounts. Folks who’d rather sell their goods than pack it back up.
Last week when I was going past one of the Asian herb growers they were down to only mint and what I thought was shiso, so were selling them 2 bunches for a dollar. And they were big bunches. So I got a bunch of mint and a bunch of the other stuff.
One thing that always amazes me about Farmers’ Market produce is how much longer it usually lasts. If I buy one of those plastic packages of herbs, it seems like the mint doesn’t last much longer than the next day. In this case, I left the mint and other in the fridge for a week without water, and it was still perfect fine.
Anyway, so I had a big bunch of this herb that I got for 50 cents. We picked up a beautiful arctic char fillet, and I thought I would grill it on a bed of it.
Pulled the “shiso” out of the fridge and washed the leaves. Some were as big as my hand and they had a very strong scent. Kind of reminiscent of cumin seed. Flavor was similar with notes of cinnamon and spice. A bit weird, but what else am I going to do with it?
Built my indirect coals, covered the other half of the grill with the herb, and put the fillet on.
Amusingly, as the herb starts to smolder, it smells amazingly like another “herb”. And a pretty good quality of that herb, indeed. Jokes about “weed smoked” char proliferate. There is giggling.
Fortunately, the “weed smoked” Arctic Char turned out to be delicious. Served it with a fennel, orange, and mint “salsa”, Quinoa Pilaf, and Tree Oyster and feta stuffed summer squash. No unusually altered perception was noticed.
Photos courtesy of the lovely Mrs. Underhill.