Fish In a “Fur Coat” (LOVAGE)

There are certain plants in the garden that are harbingers of spring. Peas, asparagus, violets and what we would call pot herbs. These are leafy greens such dandelions, nettles, chicory, and chickweed that we typically would use as “medicine”. But they can be also be used as food when first appearing in early spring. A very important option when stored root vegetables, dried fruit, and canned goods have been exhausted over the winter. Fresh greens can be eaten in a salad or in potage soup to replenish vitamins, minerals, and clear “stagnation” from the liver, spleen, or lungs. Lovage is one of these herbs. It is a wonderful addition to stews, casseroles, seafood, cheese and egg dishes. Because it is in the same botanical family as celery or parsley it can be substituted for those ingredients. But has its own unique sweet, delicate and aromatic taste to contribute. Spring shoot or leaves are best if you want to avoid a bitter taste. The dried seeds harvested and dried in fall can be added to pastries, soup, bread, rice, and potatoes. It is best to use this seasoning sparingly.

If you have visited Russia or a country that was once a part of the USSR you might have come across Fish In a Fur Coat. It reminds me of a nicoise salad with a lot of mayonnaise. This is a more elegant and flavorful take on the traditional recipe as is uses freshly cooked white fish and roasted vegetables. This dish brings back a lot of memories from my travels. It is the perfect brunch offering for a spring holiday such as Easter, Passover or Nauryz. It is very colorful and attractive. It is something unusual to impress guests that is packed with flavor, protein and lots of vegetables.

Fish In A Fur Coat

This dish is assembled in layers in a springform pan. Between each layer is 3-4 TBSP of mayonnaise spread in a thin layer. You may need as much as 1.5 cups. I used a pan , you can increase the proportions to feed a larger group if of people. Use a large wooden spoon to firmly spread and press down each layer. It is a put together in the following order.

1)Butter the bottom and sides of your springform pan

2) Boil to 2 medium/large potatoes until they are just soft when poked with a fork. Remove, cool, peel and grate. Add them to the base along with a little salt, pepper, paprika, and dill weed) cooled and grated

3) After your mayonnaise ad 1/4 cup finely diced white or yellow onion. Then 1/4 cup of young (spring) lovage shoots/leaves finely chopped.

4) Bake several fillets of white fish (tilapia) about 1.5 cups once it is cooled and finely flaked with a fork. liquid smoke, pepper, salt, olive oil- 1.5 cups cooled, finely flaked and mixed with fork

5) Roast 2 medium carrots and 2 medium beets. Then cool and grate them.

6) Steam and chop 3/4 cup green beans, asparagus or peas.

7)Lastly top with 2 hard boiled eggs that are finely chopped.

8) Garish with finely diced lovage leaves

9) Let sit in a refrigerator for one hour. Keep cold until you serve.

9) Place your pan on a decorative plate and release the springform rim.

Latin Name: Ligusticum levisticum/officinale

Botanical Family: Apiaceae/Umbelliferae (parsley)

Parts Used: seed, root, leaves

Energetics: pungent, sweet, bitter, aromatic, warm, dry

Spiritual Emotional Uses: For when we feel stuck , unable to move forward, struggle to make a decision or create. Supports the ability to make plans or formulate a structure that fosters growth and positive change. Useful when there are patterns of procrastination, fear of risk, frustration, lethargy, judgement, self criticism, isolation, and withdrawal. Fosters connection, feeling certain, confidence, and experiencing excitement when it comes to life and new projects. Try it when you desire to turn thoughts into action.

Contraindications; pregnancy and kidney disease. If you see it possibly growing in the wild or in an urban wasteland, it would be best not to touch or harvest it. People have confused it with hemlock or hogweed which are both very toxic. Pay attention to stalk color, smell, and root shape when identifying.

Lovage is a tall perennial that can grow 3-6 feet high. It is strongly aromatic like celery. Its foliage is a darker green compared to other plants in the “parsley” family. It has small yellow flowers on compound umbels. The short thick rootstock produces 1-4 large, round, hollow, stems with several branches at the top. Upper leaves are simple and sessile. Lower leaves are larger, have long petioles, opposite and are decompound/pinnate. Their leaflets are ovate and incised . Seeds take the form of a dried, brown ovary that splits into single seeded carpels.

Historically lovage is known as a digestive tonic for its warming and stimulating qualities. It helps with many stomach issues such as bloating, indigestion, colic, appetite loss, nausea, diarrhea, and gas. It has been used for fever, as a diuretic or to support the body to sweat. This plant is thought to loosen and remove mucous/damp from the lungs and other organs. The Chinese use it for painful and scanty menstruation, retained placenta, uterine insufficiency in labor, edema, arthritis, deposits ( urinary stones, liver sclerosis, arteriosclerosis, urinary tract infections, acne, eczema, psoriasis, mouth sores, growths/tumors, yeast infections, viruses, and coughs/congestion.

It is rare to find lovage growing in the wild. It has a lot in common with Osha, but it is unclear if you can substitute it for that rarer plant. Osha often goes by the name of Porter’s or wild lovage. Lovage is cultivated and grown in gardens. This herb is more common in Europe. Many of my herbals do not include it. You may not find it used much in the USA.

Published by blackbirdsbackyard

My backyard botanical pharmacy is located in Boulder Colorado. I began studying herbal medicinewhen I was 12 years old. In college I studied subjects like anthropology, microbiology, anatomy and physiology, After graduation I decided to go to midwifery school. I attended births and had a small practice until I retired early in order to be a mother full time. I have always had an herb garden, gathered plants and made my own healing formulas with plants. Over the last 30 years there have been many teachers and I have attended dozens of workshops. I am one of those people who is always reading, studying and learning. In 2019 I was called to practice as an herbalist professionally, using "plant spirit medicine" and bio-energetic ( 5 element)healing techniques. I feel that there is a big need in the community for my skills and talents. I hope to inspire others to start their own backyard pharmacies as a solution to species extinction and the healthcare crisis in America. Healing has also become a spiritual practice and way for me to feel balanced and connected with nature. I consult with clients in person, teach classes (adults and kids), give tours of my garden and offer apprenticeships. Health, joy, meaning, and support are everyone's birthright.

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