If You're Seasoning Fresh Fish With Dried Herbs, You're Doing It Wrong

salmon filet and seasonings
salmon filet and seasonings - Fcafotodigital/Getty Images

Dried herbs are, without a doubt, a godsend for the home cook. They're easily available in any supermarket regardless of the season. Being low maintenance, they can stay for months in your pantry cabinet before starting to lose their potency. There's no prep work involved when seasoning with dried herbs: just open a jar or a sachet, and they're ready to take your food to the next level. Whether you're making pecan-crusted chicken breasts or roasted pork tenderloin, a sprinkle of these dried spices can add great depths to your dish.

And yet, when it comes to seasoning fresh fish, we don't usually see dried herbs as the go-to choice. Other than perhaps dried cayenne, paprika, or chili pepper, most fresh fish recipes call for fresh herbs. This honey citrus salmon recipe, for example, requires minced garlic, chopped parsley, and chopped chives — all fresh. Similarly, this trout meunière calls for chopped fresh parsley instead of dried. Have you ever wondered why that is the case? Turns out, fresh herbs have unique properties that allow them to interact more harmoniously with fresh fish compared to their dried counterparts.

Read more: 15 Different Ways To Cook Fish

Fresh Is Best When It Comes To Seasoning Fish

fresh fish and herbs in tray
fresh fish and herbs in tray - Mironov Vladimir/Shutterstock

While dried herbs are undeniably more convenient, they're compromised in aroma. They lose most of the volatile oils that give them their pungent scents during the drying process, and this loss continues during storage. As a result, the herbs lack the bright, fresh notes that we need to complement, or sometimes soften, the briny and earthy scent of fresh fish. Not only that, the lack of moisture in the herbs means it's more difficult to infuse their flavors and aromas into the fish flesh. It also leaves them with a tough, chewy texture. While this texture may create an interesting mouthfeel on fried chicken, it is a textual mismatch with the flaky and tender consistency of cooked fish.

Fresh herbs, with their pungent aromas and delicate textures, get along so much better with fresh fish. Plus, their vibrant colors also give any fish dish a more refreshing appearance: Your simple fish dish looks a lot more lively with only a sprinkle of bright green parsley or fragrant basil leaves.

Of course, it's not a crime to use dried herbs with your fresh fish. They can be useful when you're looking for a specific flavor profile or simply don't have the necessary fresh herbs on hand. But whenever you have the choice, opt for those fresh stalks of parsley or sprigs of dill and see what a world of difference they will make to your fish dish.

Read the original article on Tasting Table