The flavor of this week and actually many weeks in my life and kitchen is thyme. This herb, is very versatile and something that is indispensable in French cuisine and a lot of what is called Silk Route cooking.
In ancient Greece, Thyme was used as a fragrance in baths and was thought to increase courage and also used in Egypt for courage. The herb dries well, and is used in assorted herb blends, one of which is the Za’taar spice blend, where it is paired with sesame seeds, but the seasoning actually gets its name from the Arabic word for Thyme which is Za’taar.
The haunting flavors of Thyme are very similar to the Indian spice, called ajowain or carom seeds, but of course, I like the fact that most of the year I can snip fresh thyme and use it as I need it. Thyme is almost indispensable when I am cooking fish, as in this weeks recipe, but I shall actually showcase it in a lighter, brighter avatar next week as well to show you how simply we can use it. It is even used with some creativity in sweet dishes and of course works well, for something like a simple dish of well roasted chicken.
Fresh thyme is very aromatic, just a few sprigs are enough to lighten up a dish and if you work with it, it leaves a haunting and lingering fragrance on your hands to remind you of its presence.
Thyme just like oregano last week, is also a great herb for winter and spring or what we still think of as cold weather. It is medically used to treat the cold and even bronchitis and is also used to sooth stomach ailments.
Thyme grows almost all year round, with the trees taking a break when the snow falls and returns back when the weather is warmer without any need for replanting. The plant grows like a bush and rewards us with pretty white flowers in late fall. It is just as hardy once picked and keeps well in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks, if kept well wrapped.
Today’s recipe is a delicate fish stew that should make you happy with its flavors and balanced textures.