Ina Garten Swears By Roasting Fish With Sprigs Of Fresh Thyme

Ina Garten
Ina Garten - Noam Galai/Getty Images

The only thing better than fresh herbs is fresh fish -- and celebrity chef Ina Garten takes full advantage of both. In her recipe for herb-roasted fish, the Barefoot Contessa maximizes flavor, wrapping both her fish and its accompanying ingredients in parchment paper. Among those fish additions, thyme stands out in importance. This is because it flavors the fish well, says Garten. She shared the fish recipe -- and her advice for using thyme -- on Food Network's "Barefoot Contessa." Among her most helpful tips? Use a lot of fresh thyme.

Case in point: For every fillet of white fish, Garten opts for about two sprigs of fresh thyme. She likes to use a large quantity because it pronounces flavor. As an aromatic herb, thyme is especially distinctive in taste. It comes with notes of both citrus and spice and, consequently, works well alongside a neutral white fish. Given these flavors, thyme also complements the other ingredients in Garten's recipe, like lemon and black pepper.

Yet while using thyme should be a no-brainer, picking it out may take some time. When it comes to the herb, there are a few rules of thumb certain to improve your fish all the more.

Read more: 15 Different Ways To Cook Fish

Always Opt For Fresh Thyme For Maximum Flavor

Roasted fish with thyme
Roasted fish with thyme - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

Garten's recipe for herb-roasted fish allows for plenty of variation, inviting home cooks to choose between different types of white fish. As such, you can roast everything from snapper to cod -- though if you choose the latter, make sure to use a Garten-recommended center-cut filet.

With thyme, however, Garten doesn't offer as many options. Instead, she suggests sticking exclusively with the fresh stuff, as it offers way more flavor. So, while you may be tempted to use whatever thyme you keep in your pantry, it's best to steer clear of anything dried for Garten's recipe. Granted, if all you have is the jarred version, dried thyme certainly can't hurt.

Once you decide on fresh thyme, you'll want to ensure its maximum freshness. In general, you should keep your eye out for vibrant green sprigs and full leaves. There are also quite a few varieties to choose from that can alter the flavor of your dish. Depending on your chosen fish -- and your preferred flavors -- you can use everything from lemon thyme to caraway thyme. In Garten's recipe, however, simpler may be better, as she already calls for other, Italian flavors in the form of olives and fresh lemon juice. Common thyme ultimately lets the recipe do its job -- and promises to taste everything but common once roasted.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.