The Lost Roman Herb

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Secret Alias
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The Lost Roman Herb

Post by Secret Alias » Thu Sep 07, 2017 1:08 pm

“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: The Lost Roman Herb

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Sep 07, 2017 7:42 pm

From the article:

The dried sap was sold on the streets by unscrupulous “laser dealers” for sky-high prices. They’d say pretty much anything to get you to buy their product, including pawning customers off with the notoriously stinky asafoetida. The spice is popular in India and Central Asia today, where it lends its garlicky notes to dahls, meatballs and roasted vegetables. But now, as in classical times, it is known primarily for its powerful sulphurous smell, like a mixture of dung and overcooked cabbage. Its Latin name means “fetid gum”.

Asafoetida is one of my favorite spices to cook with. I do not do it very often, but I always enjoy the results. I use a powdered form. When still raw, it smells to me like a combination of dirty gym socks and some kind of sulfuric chemical spill. As soon as the powder hits hot oil or butter, however, the odor vanishes. What remains is a garlicky, leeky, oniony smell and flavor, but one which permeates the food and fills the mouth more than garlic does, much like a seasoning with a strong umami element does. It is great with brussels sprouts and various kinds of curries.

Also, it is excellent on beef steak. I have been known to sprinkle the powder on a ribeye before grilling it quickly over hot coals. Then I season the steak with sea salt and grains of paradise (instead of black pepper); for some reason the grains of paradise go really well with asafoetida.
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Secret Alias
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Re: The Lost Roman Herb

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Sep 08, 2017 8:54 am

I will have to try this. Nothing better than learning something new about food. Thanks for sharing that.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

austendw
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Re: The Lost Roman Herb

Post by austendw » Sun Sep 10, 2017 9:26 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Thu Sep 07, 2017 7:42 pm
Asafoetida is one of my favorite spices to cook with.
I had a small tub of asaphœtida once-upon-a-time, but since the herb/spice appeared in Indian recipes in amongst many spices, it never seemed essential, and I never used it. Interesting that it can be used entirely on its own. I hadn't considered that as I had no idea what it would taste like on its own.

The article also mentions lovage. I have this growing in the garden, and use it quite a bit. It has a spicy celery-like taste and is good with robust dishes, meat and game. It can be used in any dish where you might think of using celery or parsley and I'm told that in Denmark it's traditionally chopped & sprinkled on boiled potatoes.

I wonder what lovage and asaphœtida taste like together...
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Ben C. Smith
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Re: The Lost Roman Herb

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sun Sep 10, 2017 11:01 am

austendw wrote:
Sun Sep 10, 2017 9:26 am
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Thu Sep 07, 2017 7:42 pm
Asafoetida is one of my favorite spices to cook with.
I had a small tub of asaphœtida once-upon-a-time, but since the herb/spice appeared in Indian recipes in amongst many spices, it never seemed essential, and I never used it. Interesting that it can be used entirely on its own. I hadn't considered that as I had no idea what it would taste like on its own.
The idea to use it by itself actually came from a book from 1836. It was in an article by Jonathan Pereira that I found while I was researching the spice. He wrote on page 686 of volume 19 of the London Medical Gazette ("Materia Medica, or Pharmacology, and General Therapeutics"):

I am assured by an experienced gastronome, that the finest relish which a beef steak can possess, may be communicated by rubbing the gridiron on which the steak is to be cooked, with asafoetida.

After I tried it on ribeye, I just knew it would taste great on strong vegetables like cabbage and brussels sprouts.
I wonder what lovage and asaphœtida taste like together....
I have no idea, but it would be interesting to try.
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austendw
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Re: The Lost Roman Herb

Post by austendw » Tue Sep 19, 2017 10:27 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Sun Sep 10, 2017 11:01 am
an article by Jonathan Pereira
Teufelsdreck!! How could one resist?
Call me Ishmael...

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