Chervil has a light flavor that most people claim is similar to licorice or anise. Others describe chervil’s flavor as mild or minty. It is one of the herbs-alongside tarragon, parsley, and chives-used in French cooking to make fine herbes, a traditional culinary blend in France. The flavor is very delicate and usually gets lost when heavily cooked, so it is normally added to dishes towards the end of cooking. The herb is also used in egg dishes and French recipes for béarnaise sauce.
Fresh chervil is not easy to find in the produce section of grocery stores because it’s a seasonal herb and is usually in plenty during spring. To make it even more complicated, it does not store well in the refrigerator. The longest you can keep chervil fresh is a week by wrapping it in a damp paper towel and storing in the fridge. Alternatively, you can keep it longer by freezing it.
However, not all is doom and gloom as you can easily get dried chervil in the spice section of most supermarkets and grocery stores. The only downside is that dried chervil does not have the distinctive and delicate flavor of the fresh herb.
One of the reasons why chervil is such an important herb in the culinary world is that you can eat its roots, leaves, stem, and flowers. This means that no part of this herb goes to waste. Below is a chervil recipe to try out.
Chervil, salmon, and omelet
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2 thinly sliced spring onions
2 tablespoon chervil, chopped
8 large eggs
2 tablespoon chives
20g or ¾ oz butter
Freshly ground black pepper
4 thin slices of smoked salmon cut into thin strips
100g or 3 ½oz lettuce leaves
Process: mix the beaten eggs, chervil, and spring onions in a large bowl and season with black pepper.
Heat a medium-sized pan over an average flame and melt in a ¼ of the butter until it starts to foam.
Pour in a ¼ of the egg mixture and swirl to cover the base of the pan.
Stir gently until the mixture is almost set. Add a ¼ of the salmon and cook until it sets.
Fold over and slide onto a serving plate.
Repeat the process to make several omelets and serve each omelet with lettuce leaves and a dip of your choice.
Chervil’s delicate flavors have been spicing and garnishing dishes since time immemorial. Once you try it in your soups, salads, and pasta, you will get to appreciate why the French have held this herb in high esteem as an integral part of their cuisine.