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Friday, January 16, 2015

Aneth – Dill. The spice with a very light aniseed flavor and a favorite in the French kitchen.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman

The dill plant flowering.
Photograph courtesy of ekenitr.
The taste of dill.
I am not a great fan of strong aniseed tastes; however, dill is not aniseed.  Dill is mild, and in marinades, soups and sauces it adds a light aniseed accent that I do like. The French will use the feathery dill leaves to marinate salmon and to flavor other fish dishes.  

Dill seeds.
Photograph courtesy of John and Anni.
Fresh dill leaves, surprisingly, have a lighter taste than the same leaves in their dried form.  Dill leaves and their seeds, which are their fruits, are available fresh or dried.  Dill leaves are milder than the seeds and so more likely to be used on their own in herbal butters, herbal vinegar or to flavor salads. Dill seeds are used as a salt substitute, for pickling, and to flavor pastries.
Dill on French menus:
Carpaccio de Bœuf Mariné Citronné et à l’Aneth – Beef Carpaccio marinated with lemon and dill.

Barbecuing tiger prawns flavored with dill.
Photograph courtesy of avlxyz.
Escalope de Veau Panée, Sauce Crémeuse à l’Aneth et  Citron –  A breaded veal scallop/escalope  served with a cream sauce flavored with dill and lemon.
Feuilleté aux Moules et à l’Aneth – A puff pastry casing filled with mussels flavored with dill.
Petites Tartelettes au Thon, Chèvre Frais et Aneth – Small tuna fish tarts, made with fresh goat’s cheese flavored with dill.
Salade de Carpe Fumée Maison, Crème Citronnée à l’Aneth et Œufs de Lumps  - A salad of home-made smoked carp; served with a lemon flavored cream sauce with added dill and lumpfish eggs.  N.B.: Lumpfish eggs are called lumpfish caviar outside of France. In France the only fish eggs that may be called caviar are those that come from the sturgeon.

Dill marinated salmon.
Photograph courtesy of krakatoa.
Saumon Mariné à l'Aneth Salmon marinated in dill. When this dish is well-made  and thinly sliced then it is the only dish I know that can compete with the best smoked salmon for flavor and texture.
Dill and Fennel.
Dill’s green stalks, leaves and seeds look like a smaller version of fennel. That is not too surprising as they are both members of the same family.   However, dill is the spice of choice for recipes when a light aniseed touch is needed.   Fresh dill keeps well in a refrigerator, but when fresh dill is not available, unlike many other spices which lose their flavor, dried dill is an acceptable alternative.
Dill’s origins.
The origin of dill is disputed. Some herb and spice experts will tell you that dill originated in Europe and others in Central Asia.  In Europe the Ancient Romans and Greeks used dill  in many recipes.  From those two countries, you may see how the taste for dill progressed with recipes including dill spreading throughout the Mediterranean.  In Asia, India has its own variety of dill called Sowa.
Wherever dill originated it was certainly one of the Old World exports to the New World.  In North America dill leaves are marketed as dill weeds; however, dill weeds are dried dill leaves, and they certainly are not weeds. 
The origin of dill’s English name.
The English name dill comes from the Scandinavia where the words, dill, dild, dila, are all words that indicate calm.  French and other homeopathic doctors prescribe dill to calm an upset stomach and other disorders.

Cucumber salad with onions and fresh dill.
Photograph courtesy of abbyladybug
Dill and aniseed.
Dill’s two other French names, Faux Anis and Fenouil Bâtard will not be seen on menus.  For those seeking real aniseed in France it is  called Anis and Anis Vert.  Star Anise, the star shaped fruit of the Chinese Aniseed flavored spice is called  Anis Étoile and Badiane. Star anis is the spice used for aniseed flavor in Chinese and other Asian cuisines.

Not from France.
One of America's favorite pickles, the kosher dill.
Photograph courtesy of magpiebride.
Dill in the languages of France’s neighbours:  (Catalan – anet), (German - dill, gurkenkraut),  (Italian – aneto),  (Spanish - hinojo hediondo, abesón, aneldo, eneldo).
Dill in other languages:
(Chinese (Mandarin) -歐洲蒔蘿  ōu zhōu shì luó, 蒔蘿 shì luó), (Dutch – dille), (Greek – Άνηθος, anithos)m (Hebrew- shevet rehanee, shamir, שבת ריחני, שמיר ), (Japanese -ディル, イノンド, siru, inondo), (Korean -, 이논드, tir, inondu), (Malay - adas china, adas pudus, ender), (Norwegian – dill),  (Polish - koper ogrodowy), (Portugues – endro, aneto),(Rumanian  - mărar), (Russian – Укроп, ukrop), (Ukranian - kріп, kріп запашний, yкріп, kопер, krip, krip zapashnyj, ukrip, koper). With thanks to Gernot Katzer and his spice pages for the many translations and other assistance.  See Gernot  Katzer's website at:
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Other herbs and spices from behind the French Menu:


Bryan G. Newman
Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2015.
For information on the book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman

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