The Marvels of Mint
Date: 10-05-2018 published by Nick Baines
Mint is arguably one of the most overlooked herbs in the garden. Maybe it’s because we are so familiar with this refreshing plant that we sometimes forget it’s even there. This mighty plant is about to be bang in season and ready to be utilised in a whole heap of `springtime dishes.
With lamb also beginning to grace the kitchen walk-ins, the obvious first move for mint is in a traditional British mint sauce made with sugar and vinegar. However, yogurt based Indian versions could also be a solid move. With such a strong public focus on healthy eating, looking at ways to avoid sugar in cooking is going to be advantageous. Grilled lamb with a minted yogurt sauce is a classic for this time of year and goes hand in hand with a whole range of Greek-style dishes.
Perhaps more interestingly, London’s Mother Clucker, a fried chicken outfit, brines it’s chicken in tea ahead of the dredge and is delivering some incredibly popular results – just take a look at the long lines they enjoy. Mint teas can also offer interesting brine, or soaking options for chicken too, bringing a gentle, but refreshing warmth.
Pestos are another innovative way mint is being used, and instead of using basil, parmesan and pine nuts with olive oil, creative cooks are dabbling with handfuls of mint, soft goats cheese and a splash of rapeseed oil.
Naturally mint plays an integral role in a good tabbouleh, and finds it’s way into various couscous dishes, as well as providing the finishing touch to tagines and other Moroccan plates.
Mint is used frequently in Vietnamese cookery and features in a variety of regional dishes from Hanoi’s bun cha, to a plethora of nem spring rolls and light, delicate pho broths. In fact Vietnamese food often carries bright fragrance and
lends itself well to hotter weather and celebrates some of south east Asia’s best loved ingredients.
Of course mint is the star ingredient of a minted pea soup, but also lays claim to some of the summer’s most popular cocktails, including the highly lauded Mojito and dessert sections are taking note creating cocktail based sorbets. More recently, we’ve seen chefs playing with the components of a Pimms cup to create sorbets, fools and jellies that incorporate fresh mint, strawberries, cucumber and the famous summer-time spirit.
In the US, mint is often chopped and scattered over sliced watermelon to great effect and in many smoothie bowl and juice bars in Hawaii, the pairing of mint with pineapple delivers some pretty outstanding results.
By looking globally, and embracing the trends in far-flung locations, mint can be a game changer for spring and summer menus, and a conduit to explore exciting new cuisines.
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