In addition to spices, herbs are true gifts from nature that can give your dishes a deep flavor and distinct aroma. Tarragon is one of these herbs. It’s used to create the best version of several dishes, and sometimes it can stand and shine on its own.
Many cooks ask me: “What does tarragon taste like?”. If you’re one of them, I’m over here to help you find the most satisfying answer to this question, as well as common types, best dishes and how to use this herb in the right way.
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What Is Tarragon?
Tarragon (also called estragon) is a perennial herb that belongs to the sunflower family. It’s grown in France, Russia, North America and in some parts of Asia. It’s generally about 30-60 inches in height with slender branched stems and skinny, glossy green leaves.
In terms of cooking, tarragon has a distinct licorice flavor that can be added to a variety of dishes, including sauce, stew, soup, poultry, etc. In addition, it can be used as a natural medicine because it contains plenty of phytonutrients and antioxidants that help to prevent diseases and improve health.
How Many Types of Tarragon?
Tarragon is divided into three main varieties: French, Russian, and Mexican tarragon. Taste is the main difference between them, which we’ll discuss later. First, let’s find out the differences in their appearance:
It has leaves that are greener than other varieties. However, it can only grow to 2.5 feet in height.
It’s the most vigorous variety which can grow up to 5 feet. But its leaves are a bit narrower and spikier than the French one.
It’s also known as Mexican marigold mint which can grow to 3 feet. It’s the only variety that has pretty yellow flowers which are edible as the leaves.
What Does Tarragon Taste Like?
Tarragon taste is the combination of bitterness and sweetness. In other words, it’s a hint of licorice and vanilla that concurrently gives both warm and cool feeling on the palate. Some people also say that tarragon tastes like mint with a bit of hay.
However, not all types of tarragon have the same taste. In particular, the French variety has a subtly sweet flavor, while the Russian one is slightly bitter. The Mexican tarragon is something in between, which is not as sweet or bitter as other varieties.
In terms of aroma, tarragon is quite similar to anise or licorice. Particularly, the Mexican variety has the strongest anise scent. The Russian one is less aromatic than others in spite of being the strongest in the flavor. Also, it tends to easily lose the scent as maturing or being dried.
Amongst all the varieties of tarragon, the French one is preferred most. In fact, many French dishes heavily rely on tarragon because it gives a superior flavor over its herbal counterpart and creates a wonderful scent. Russian tarragon, however, is the least preferable choice.
How to Get the Best Taste of Tarragon?
Whichever the variety, tarragon has a strong flavor and aroma that can dominate the taste of other ingredients. Therefore, it’s important to use this herb correctly and sparingly. This is the reason why tarragon is not versatile in cooking, and many cooks even hate it. Here are some notes when using tarragon in cooking.
- Excess use of tarragon can create an overpowering taste that can ruin your dish. If you don’t have much experience in cooking tarragon, use it in small amounts and then gradually develop the flavor. This way, you always remain on the safe side.
- You should use tarragon leaves as they’re fresh because the aroma of dried tarragon is typically very weak. So, you have to double the amount of dried tarragon if the recipe requires fresh tarragon.
- You should not use tarragon together with strong-tasting herbs, spices and savory because it can dominate their scent.
- Overcooking dishes that have tarragon as an ingredient causes the loss of tarragon’s sweetness and leaves behind only the bitter taste.
Best Dishes to Add Tarragon
Tarragon is incorporated into various foods, including vinegar, sauces, salmons, chickens and vegetables. When used in an appropriate amount, it adds a special taste as well as naturally keeps the food fresh and sweet. Here are some common dishes, in which tarragon acts as a flavor-boosting ingredient.
- Tarragon Vinegar: Wine vinegar flavored with tarragon sprigs creates a strong taste of anise when combined with mustard. It’s great to add to meats, eggs, fishes and salads.
- Béarnaise Sauce: This is one of the most well-known sauces in the French cuisine, in which tarragon vinegar is used as a staple. The sauce is commonly served with steak.
- Salmon & Chicken: Tarragon elevates and creates a delicate taste to salmon and chicken. That’s why tarragon butter or sauce is often added to grilled salmon or roasted chicken to make the dish greater.
- Vegetables: Mix tarragon vinegar with salads and you will have the best salad dish ever. Other vegetables that blend well with tarragon vinegar are asparagus and artichokes.
Tarragon is a great herb with a bittersweet taste and anise aroma. If they do love it but never had the chance to try it, let’s add it to your family’s dishes, or you can try great dishes that we suggested above. You might need to do some trials and make few errors first, but mistakes just make our cooking funnier and more memorable.
I hope that you’ve got some good insights and ideas for your future recipes. If you have any question or contribution, leave it in the box below. We’ll answer all! Don’t forget to share our post with your friends on social networks so that more people will have the sprinkle of tarragon!
Thank for you reading! Bye!!!