Herbs With Seafood Dishes

HERBS FOR SEAFOOD DISHES: This is the second of four articles that cover: Meats, Seafood, Vegetables and Breads as general categories.

WHAT MAKES SEAFOOD DIFFERENT: The basic difference between meats and seafood is one of intensity.  Meat has a robust, bold flavor and hence you can be more forceful with seasonings.  Seafood is inherently more delicate and therefore your seasonings have to be subtler. To put it more simply, there is a much narrower margin of error when using herbs in preparing seafood dishes.

Your kitchen should have at least one fresh dried jar of these specific herbs (list at the bottom of this page).  I have all of these in fresh form that I can cut from my garden.  With seafood I find that the fresh herbs go wonderfully with most of the recipes I have cooked.

FRESH IS ALWAYS BETTER: Because seafood is best consumed when it is fresh, the addition of fresh herbs is a natural fit.  If you are going to use dried herbs use them sparingly.  Fresh herbs are best added to the seafood dishes toward the end of he cooking process or just after removing from the stove or grill. A general rule of thumb is a tablespoon of fresh herbs is comparable to a teaspoon of dried herbs. That is about a three to one ratio in most cases

SEASON WITH A GENTLE HAND: With seafood it is critical not to over season.  You can always add more herbs to intensify the flavor but if you start with too much seasoning it is impossible to remove the flavor from the final dish.

Since seafood has a very delicate composition you can use small amounts of various herbs to enhance the natural flavors.  The preparation of most fresh seafood dishes is fairly simple and you can have a nicely seasoned piece of salmon on the table in very short order.  For this reason, the addition of fresh herbs is essential for great tasting dishes.  Most fresh herbs (with the exception of Rosemary) are not as strong as their dried variety and that is why fresh herbs are ideal in the preparation of seafood dishes.

SEAFOOD COOKING METHODS: When cooking seafood there are several methods to add herbs to impart a delicate flavor into the finished dish. The basic categories of seafood are Scallops, shrimp, crabmeat, lobster and fresh fish.  The cooking methods are broiling, baking, frying, poaching and steaming.  You can add herbs to melted butter for basting, into stuffing for a whole baked fish, into batter for breading if you are going to fry the fish as well as into the water if you are poaching or steaming the fish.  Additionally you can use it in marinades and sauces that are added to the final fish dish.

The list below is of those herbs that have been shown to pair well seafood dishes.  Keep in mind that this list is not an all-inclusive list and just because you don’t see a specific herb on the list it does not mean you can’t add it to a recipe.  Specific herbs might be added depending on the additional ingredients included in recipe to yield a beneficial taste result.

SEAFOOD DISHES: Basil, Bay Leaves, Chives, Dill, Lemon Verbena, Onion, Oregano, Marjoram, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Savory, Tarragon, Thyme
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