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Exotic Herbs

Exotic culinary herbs have been grown and cultivated throughout the world, from the Mediterranean to the Tropics, their versatility is unsurpassed. Exotic herbs are not only found in many places, but they have some amazing qualities, with many of them quite adaptable and easily grown indoors without little care. Let's learn a little more about exotic herb plants that you can grow in your garden.

Unusual Culinary Herbs to Try

Perilla, or shiso, is a member of the herb family that is commonly used in Japanese cuisine. The beautiful serrated leaves are available in either green or red and are used in sushi, soups, and tempura and added to rice. Red perilla has a licorice-like flavor while green has more cinnamon notes. Seeds should be sown in the spring for a harvest in about 70 days.

Epazote is a common herb used in Mexican cuisine. The uniquely flavored leaves, both minty and peppery with essence of citrus, can be used in a myriad of ways. The leaves are steeped for a spicy tea, cooked as a leafy green, or added to soups, tamales, egg dishes, chilis, etc.

Persicaria odorata, or Vietnamese coriander, is a tropical perennial with a spicy flavor perfect for stir fries and curries. Grow this frost tender herb in full sun in well-drained containers that can be brought indoors to overwinter.

Lovage (Levisticum officinale) is a perennial herb that is hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8. The plant looks similar to flat leaf parsley, but the flavor is anything like parsley; it actually tastes just like celery and can be used in place of celery in soup recipes that call for it. Lovage is tolerant of sun to partial shade with moist, well-draining soil.

French sorrel didn’t used to be considered an exotic herb plant. At one time it was very popular, but its popularity never really made it over the pond. It is less acidic than common sorrel, with a hint of apple and lemon essence. It can be eaten raw like spinach in salad or on sandwiches, or pureed into soup.

Mexican tarragon has the sweet, anise-like tarragon flavor that accents fish, meat, or egg dishes. It is used in Día de Los Muertos festivities as an offering to the deceased, and it is also made into a popular beverage consumed throughout Latin America.

Lemongrass is another unusual herb to grow at home that is commonly used in Asia and Latin American cuisine. Lemongrass has a bright, citrusy flavor without any bitterness or acidity that pairs well with fish and other dishes.


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Have yourself a wonderful weekend, happy cooking!

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