Savory character

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 October, 2011, 12:00am


If you're used to British English, 'savory' will look like it's spelled wrong. But it's not 'savoury' without a 'u', it's a herb.

Savory isn't the easiest herb to find in Hong Kong, especially fresh. I've occasionally seen it in the more upscale supermarkets, but it is not as common as herbs such as basil, parsley, bay and oregano. In its dried form, it can sometimes be found in the herb and spice sections of outlets such as Great and City'super.

There are two basic types of savory: summer and winter. I've only tasted the former, which has a pleasant, peppery flavour. Winter savory is said to be stronger and coarser tasting. Unlike long, leafy herbs such as basil, tarragon and mint, savory's smaller leaves dry well, maintaining their flavour. The herb is said to soothe digestive problems.

As its name suggests, savory is good in savoury dishes. It's sometimes included in 'fines herbes' mixtures, along with tarragon, chervil, parsley and chives. Savory- dried or fresh- goes well with hearty meats, but the fresh leaves are delicate enough to be used in salads and other vegetable dishes, especially with fresh and dried beans, and legumes.

For a quick and delicious vegetable side dish, trim the ends from some haricots verts then blanch briefly in salted boiling water. Drain then stir-fry the beans with a halved garlic clove and a little salt. Stir in some fresh minced savory just before removing the beans from the heat.