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Jun 23, 2010 08:41 PM

Rue (The Herb)

Anyone have any idea how to use rue? Any ideas for dishes that use it? I was inspired to buy a plant after seeing a recipe with it in the French Laundry cookbook, but I'm having difficulties making the flavor noticeable.

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  1. Here's a link with botanical infomation. Rue is quite bitter to the taste; I'm surprised you're having trouble getting a noticable flavor, especially if you're using fresh. Scroll down the page for interesting social commentary on it's culinary use:

    Aside from growing Rue as an herb with attractive foliage, I have never cooked with it. It was used as an antidote to poison, among many other medicinal applications during Roman and Greek history and the Middle Ages. It is used as a companion plant in gardening, capable of repelling a number of pesky garden insects, which are offended by it's strong aroma.

    What is the recipe the French Laundry uses it in?

    Here are some culinary use suggestions from a Chow ingredients page:

    "Serving Suggestions: Add a small branch of rue to simmering spicy Italian tomato sauces; remove before serving. Because rue’s natural bitterness is diminished by acids, it works well in pickled vegetables, herbal vinegars, or salads. Make a British-style sauce from damson plums cooked with red wine and rue to serve with meat.

    Food Affinities: Bread, capers, cheese, chicken, cream cheese, eggs, grappa, grating cheese, olive oil, pickles, plum, salads, tomato sauce, vinegar."

    And the whole story:

    "Here did she fall a tear, here in this place
    I'll set a bank of rue, sour herb of grace."
    Richard II, Act 3

    1. I was intrigued by your question, as I know rue as a foul-smelling herb that I thought couldn't possibly have culinary applications. Where I live it is popular as an ornamental plant.

      I checked my sources, and wasn't surprised to see that the dried leaf is a powerful insecticide. It is also popular as a flavoring for grappa (that's where the bitter taste comes from).

      Culinary applications seem few. Patience Gray has this to say about it:

      "Rue grows wild in Apulia; in gardens it has an overpowering smell. Strangely enough, it belongs to the same plant family as the orange and other citrus fruits. A sprig of rue put in a bottle of grappa improves the taste and reduces the alcohol's effect on the heart."

      1. Hi Andrew,
        I cooked with rue by mistake, was looking for tarragon in the market here in Brazil and grabbed rue ("arruda" in Portuguese) instead. I was making shrimp with champagne beurre blanc and threw in some fresh rue at the end. I found it similar to tarragon but stronger, much more concentrated, sotr of piney. A little goes a long way.

        1 Reply
        1. re: sarahhornsby

          hello i am in chef school doing a report on an herb or spice and i dont know why but i choose to do this one. now i found alot of good stuff on this plant but i need to prepare a dish using this herb but can not find any recipe on it. i need to do a simple sweet or savory dish in class so if you can help i would love that. thank you Damond

        2. The chinese use this in a dessert of green bean 'porridge'. The green beans are simmered with a bit of rue (chinese name is 'stinky grass') till broken up in water (thickness of the resulting 'porridge' based on personal preference) and sugar is added in.
          *the green beans used are the dried ones, not the legume vegetable.

          1 Reply
          1. re: cyloh

            thank you so much. i went looking for more recipes but couldn't find any so thank you for that on and if you know of any more or have some your self can you send them to houseofroses1@yahoo,com thank you again.
            chef damond