Almost worldwide, except for the United States, the leaves and seeds from the coriander plant are called coriander. In the States, however, the Spanish word, cilantro, is used for coriander’s leaves. Part of the carrot family, cilantro is used fresh in salsas, salads, burritos, pickles, curries and the meat dishes of many cuisines. It is sometimes called Mexican Parsley or Chinese Parsley and lends a citrus-like flavor. Dried coriander is used in bakery goods, and a flavoring for liqueurs.
There are, however, many people who can’t or won’t tolerate cilantro. Their dislike is so widespread, scientists have explained cilantro’s aroma contains aldehydes, the same type found in certain soaps, lotions and offensive insects, three items not at all associated with food. Thus, the “cilantro turn-off.” Yet, in spite of this, cilantro is happily consumed by many millions of people around the world, particularly in Asia, Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean, Scandinavia and Latin America.
Look for cilantro near other types of parsley in your produce section. To be sure you are choosing cilantro, check the tag or taste a leaf. It closely resembles flat-leaf or Italian parsley. Next, check for leaves that have a fresh, bright green color with no yellow leaves. The stems are also edible. It doesn’t have a long storage life, maximum one week. Store in a plastic bag in your crisper drawer. Cilantro leaves do not preserve well dried or frozen.
SUGGESTED USES FOR CILANTRO LEAVES:
As heat diminishes their flavor, cilantro leaves are usually used raw or added to a heated dish immediately before serving. Here are some opportunities to use cilantro:
- All meats
- Sauces, chutneys, salsas, catchups, dressings, relishes, marinades,
- Crushed and added to rubs
- Beans, chillis