Don't freak out if you have run out of tarragon in your kitchen. As far as I know, there are a lot of alternatives that can recreate its flavor.
For those who are new to this ingredient, tarragon is a type of herb that grows like rosemary and thyme. It is usually present in Russian and French cuisines, although you can see it in other regional delicacies.
Unfortunately, tarragon cannot be easily accessed. Therefore, if you are planning to make a recipe that involves this herb, you should know about its alternatives. Here are some of the ingredients that can perfectly serve as tarragon replacements.
Before we start, I have written a special lesson about the different types of herbs, spices, and condiments. If you want to learn about these ingredients, then just check out this article!
Dill or no dill? Sorry for the pun, I cannot help it. Anyway, dill is one of the best substitutes that you can you get for tarragon. Specifically, this herb is classified under the celery family. That's the reason why it has a long limb and comes with a multitude of thin leaves.
I cannot say that dill has the same amount of flavor as tarragon. I recommend that you use it moderately to ensure that it doen't overwhelm your food. For example, you can use a quarter of a tablespoon of dill if the recipe requires that you to use a tablespoon of tarragon. But you should not overdo it. Otherwise, the bitter taste of dill can ruin the flavor of your cuisine.
But in small amounts, dill is a great partner for fish and meat dishes as it can really bring out the true flavor of these ingredients. As a matter of fact, a plethora of fish processing companies use dill as a rub for their products. Luckily, you can do this magic on your own premises, but add dill minimally to ensure that you won't be eating a bitter dinner.
If you are going to use tarragon as a salad dressing, then why not try marjoram instead? You should know by now that marjoram is a great substitute for dried tarragon because of both its sweetness and hints of spiciness. You can also use it in low carb chicken salads and other salad recipes that come to mind.
It is worth noting that marjoram is very reactive to cold temperatures. Therefore, it is quite difficult to find this ingredient being grown and cultivated in cold regions, and do not be surprised if you can't find this herb during the winter. But marjoram is pretty ubiquitous in the sunny seasons.
The sweet taste that marjoram can provide is necessary for sauces, soups, and stews, and in this way it has a similar versatility to tarragon.
Another tarragon substitute that you should consider is fennel seed. Specifically, the fennel plant is categorized under the carrot family. The base or stalk grows under the soil while its leaves sprout freely above the surface.
It is quite amusing to know that fennel is a primary ingredient of absinthe. It also has other purposes, such as in the field of medicine. When it comes to taste, fennel resembles aniseed. Their flavors are almost the same, but I find there is a slight difference that is hard to describe.
Since tarragon is commonly used as a garnish for salads and sauces, you can safely assume that fennel seeds can do the same trick. In fact, I would say that the sweetness of fennel is much better than tarragon. Many high-end restaurants apply fennel seed on their desserts, like ice cream. Soups and puddings can also benefit from its naturally sweet taste.
I know that most of you know about basil already. It is easy to get and cultiate. In fact, some of us have been growing this herb in our backyards and gardens, as planting basil on your own is not a big ordeal.
Despite all of this, let me tell you that basil comes in different varieties. You can see lemon basil, holy basil, and even sweet basil. The list goes on. But most basil plants generally have similar characteristics. They all exhibit a compelling smell and flavor, regardless of whether they are fresh or dry.
For those of you who like making sauces, like pesto, basil is a great ingredient. Usually, tarragon is the primary choice for these condiments, but the naturally sweet flavor and aroma of basil can supersede the conventional tarragon. Many American and Italian dishes use basil, especially with chicken and cheese-based recipes.
It is undeniable that thyme is the most versatile substitute for various Mediterranean herbs. It can easily substitute tarragon in a heartbeat because of its natural minty aroma and flavor. After all, it is notable that thyme is a derivative of both the mint and oregano plants. Therefore, its scent and texture are very refreshing and intoxicating. You can substitute thyme for oregano while making cobia fish.
Technically speaking, thyme and tarragon are not really the same. But thyme brings life into the flavor of the food in a very similar way to tarragon. For example, you can substitute thyme for tarragon whenever you are planning to make cornbread.
Moreover, vegetable and meat recipes can benefit from thyme. It induces a luscious flavor and texture to the food, and can be used in any cooking method. You can even barbecue this herb!
It is quite difficult to describe the taste of aniseed. But for me, aniseed is a combination of fennel and tarragon. Many regions around the world use aniseed as a form of flavoring in their drinks and beverages. In addition, some herbal medicines, candles, and other antiseptics use it as their main ingredient.
When it comes to food, I can testify that this herb is fantastic. Its distinctive sweet flavor means that aniseed can be included in making desserts and pastries. Many bread parlors tend to use this ingredient whenever tarragon is not at their disposal.
You can still use aniseed in meat and vegetable recipes. If you wish to enliven a dull cuisine, you can always add this herb to the mix. However, I have a caveat for you. Too much aniseed can actually make a dish bitter. So always add the ingredient gradually and in moderation if you want to control the sweetness and spiciness of the food.
Now that you have discovered all the possible tarragon substitutes, it is time for you to apply them to your cooking. There is a good chance that you can stumble on new flavors by experimenting with these alternatives. Since tarragon is not always available in the market, having these herbs can give us confidence and peace of mind. With them around in your kitchen, you can cook your desired cuisines whenever you want.
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