Fines herbes, along with bouquet garni, is one of the classic French combinations of herbs that has stood the test of time and become commonplace in modern kitchens. The two part company, however, when it comes to flavour. Bouquet garni (literally meaning "a bunch of herbs") is a forthright blend of bay, thyme, pepper and parsley that provides depth to stocks, soups and sauces. Fines herbes on the other hand is all about subtlety, as the name suggests.
It is simply a mixture of four (sometimes more) green herbs that lend their unique gentle tastes and unmistakable lift to simple dishes such as grilled fish, chicken, omelettes and quiche. The chives provide a tantalizing onion flavour, the tarragon and chervil, a beguiling anise flavour and the parsley rounds out the entourage with a slightly more forceful herby flavour. All that is left to do is scatter the mixture over a simple dish of grilled fish or scrambled eggs and let the herbs weave their magic.
When you make fines herbes, remember not to mince the hell out of the herbs. One of the charms of this delightful mixture is the treat of finding a delicate chervil frond here, a snip of chive there.
A delicious sauce to dress seafood can be made by mixing fines herbs with home made mayonnaise, a squeeze of lemon and a dash of cream.
Some recipes include lovage and dill, but I prefer to go with the classic four.
- 2 Tbs Parsley leaves, torn into small pieces
- 2 Tbs Chervil leaves
- 2 Tbs Tarragon leaves, torn if large
- 2 Tbs Chives, snipped into tiny pieces
Mix all the herbs together and use as soon as possible on delicately flavoured dishes. Do not bother storing overnight as the delicate flavours will have fled out of the fridge and into the night.