What Is Epazote and How Do I Use It?
December 6, 2016 2 Comments
Epazote is a herb commonly found in Mexican cuisine (pronounced eh-puh-ZOE-tay). It is also known as hedge mustard, Jerusalem parsley, Mexican tea, pazote, pigweed, West Indian goosefoot, and wormseed. Typically you will find this ingredient for sale with other dried herbs in Mexican tiendas, Latin grocery stores, supermarkets that cater to an Hispanic clientele, and online, although occasionally you may find it fresh at a farmer’s market in a bunch, similar to how items like cilantro are sold.
It has a distinctive flavor and odor which is sometimes compared to perfume or gasoline , particularly if you use older leaves. Younger leaves are better since they have a mild, richer flavor and blend better in different dishes. The bags of dried epazote you find in stores should be fine to use. Mexican kitchens have utilized this herb for centuries, going back all the way to the Aztecs, who used it for medicinal purposes. Which brings us to our reason for using this herb in our cooking.
We primarily use epazote when we cook beans, lentils, or other legumes. What do these things have in common? That’s right, they all cause abdominal discomfort, otherwise known as gas. Yep, slip a teaspoon of dried epazote into a pot of beans and it is works better than Beano at getting rid of the vapors. (Just be sure to use the dried leaves and pick out any stalks or stems, which can be hard and prickly.)
A note of caution, however: in large quantities, epazote can be poisonous. Also, if you are thinking about replacing it with a different herb, you’re out of luck. There’s simply no good replacement for it in your cooking, as the flavor is very distinctive. If you don’t have it on hand, it is best to just forego this ingredient in your recipe.
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