Also known as: fresh coriander, Chinese parsley

Once considered exotic, cilantro has finally earned a permanent position in the American produce aisle. Its bright, fresh perfume is sometimes described as soapy-smelling. Cilantro provides a lively foil to the spicy dishes of Latin American and Asian cuisine, brightening dishes that might otherwise seem overbearing.

Chopped cilantro can quickly perk up second-rate salsa. It’s refreshing tossed into salads or sprinkled atop Mexican or Thai dishes as you would parsley. Try tossing chopped cilantro with chopped onion, pineapple, and a tiny bit of minced serrano pepper for a crisp, spicy-sweet alternative to traditional pico de gallo.

Cilantro looks similar to Italian parsley, although it’s more tender and has a very distinctive aroma. Because it’s rather delicate, you should take care to pull out any brown or yellowed leaves or stems, which encourage the bunch to go south before its time. Cilantro will keep in the fridge up to a week (if you’re lucky). Store in a plastic bag, or bouquet-style in a glass of water. Cover the leaves with a plastic bag or plastic wrap to prevent wilting.

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