***image1***Hi there, it’s Naz here again. Having had a food filled Xmas and New Year, I expect most of you are thinking about losing some excess weight gained during the holiday season and are trying to eat more healthy foods. I think more food is consumed over the Xmas holiday period, than any other time in the year. It’s traditional for turkey to be consumed at this time, but what about other forms of protein, like chicken and fish? Turkey might be traditional, but in some cultures, fish is also a big item on the menu at Xmas. I have therefore, decided to talk about a great accompaniment to fish this month; the herb, dill.
’D’ is for Dill
***image2***The word dill comes from the Saxon word ‘dilla’ or ‘dillan’, the translation being ‘to lull’. This name could refer to the properties that dill possesses in terms of being able to pacify babies with colic or those that suffer from flatulence. Amongst its other properties, Dill is known for aiding digestion, acting as an antibacterial and antispasmodic agent and as a diuretic. In ancient Egypt it was also used as a main ingredient in a pain killing mixture. However, it’s main purpose is for calming the digestive system. The essential oil found in Dill assists in relieving intestinal spasms and griping so it can be found in many gripe water mixtures and for those suffering from colds and other such related ailments, dill is often added to cold and flu remedies.
In terms of cultivation, dill is best planted in cool weather, although it can be planted just as successfully in warm winters, provided no hard frost is in existence. In areas where it is slightly cooler, the herb should be planted a week or so before the last hard frost is experienced. Dill can grow up to 3 feet in height and takes about a week or so to germinate. It should not however, be planted near caraway, fennel or angelica and has a habit of being attractive to caterpillars!!
Dill grows in the Mediterranean region and Southern Russia. It can also be found growing wild amongst the corn in Spain and Portugal and around the coast of Italy, and rarely grows in parts of Northern Europe.
***image3***From a personal perspective, I only use dill as a herb. It can however, be used as a seed. If dill is not constantly trimmed or cut for use, it will go to seed. To prevent seed production, it is recommended that the herb be cut and if necessary preserved. Preservation can easily be undertaken by drying the herb in the microwave on kitchen paper towel and zapping it for a couple of minutes. This provides a much tastier and fresher variety of dried dill than using the shop bought ones!!
***image4***Dill leaves are feathery and thread like in appearance and have yellow flowers. In terms of taste, they are very similar to that of caraway, but have a tangy, grassy flavour to them along with a hint of lemon, pine and fennel. They are used to add flavour to soups, salads and fish dishes as well as in herb butter. The seed however, is very strong in its aroma and extremely pungent. Many people grind the seed to use as a salt substitute or for pickling. They are also used to enhance the flavour of roasts. Dill is often used to add a certain zing to potatoes. The seeds can be added to the simmering water of boiled new potatoes or tossed into summer salads. The leaves can also be added into cottage cheese to add a something special. They can also be added to bean soups to add to the taste and prevent flatulence.
Dill leaves can also be used to generate oil which is pale yellow in colour, but darkens in time. The fruit of the dill leaf can generate about 3.5% oil and is a mixture of a paraffin hydrocarbon and d-carvone with limonene. Caraway and Dill oils are almost identical in composition other than the fact that dill oil contains less carvone than caraway oil.
Like the dill seeds and leaves, the oil possesses similar properties and has considerable medicinal uses. Most common is its use in the preparation of dill water, used for treating children suffering from flatulence and other children’s medicines. It is also used for perfuming soap.
Japan and India also export dill oil. However, it is different from the European dill oil as it contains less carvone. Strangely enough, African dill oil is produced from plants grown from seeds imported from England. They tend to produce more oil than the European counterparts.
Given dill’s aromatic properties, I tend to use it for very simple dishes where there is absolutely no requirement for other herbs or spices to be used. I hope you enjoy making the fish recipe that I have listed below.
Recipe of the Month:
***image5***Grilled Salmon with Dill
This is a nice and simple recipe that requires very little time and is high in protein and low in fat. It is best served as soon as it has been prepared.
1 Salmon Fillet
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped fresh dill
Olive oil/spray lite
1. Spray a little oil oil/spray lite onto the grill pan.
2. Squeeze lemon juice on the fillet and sprinkle chopped dill on it.
3. Place fish on the grill pan and then turn grill temperature setting to high.
4. Grill on high for 5 minutes and then reduce temperature setting to low.
5. Once the fillet changes colour and becomes light pink, test that it is cooked by using a knife. If it is cooked, turn over and repeat steps 3 and 4.
6. Remove from grill pan and serve with fresh steamed vegetables.
7. Add salt and pepper to taste
For those of you who prefer to bake fish rather than grill, the steps are the same although a little bit more time consuming.
Back next month with more from Naz ! If you have any suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org . Feedback is always encouraged.
Bye for now.