Cilantro is an incredibly versatile herb that’s used in a variety of cuisines all over the world. It’s best used when it’s fresh and known to have a unique flavor. It’s often used a garnish for many Indian dishes, mixed into popular salsa recipes, and also added in Moroccan chermoula.
In this blog post, you’ll learn about cilantro, some ways you can cook it, and how to pick out the freshest cilantro from the grocery store.
What Is Cilantro?
Cilantro is basically an herb that comes from the fresh leaves of the coriander plant. It’s a member of the parsley family which is why it’s also called Mexican parsley and Chinese parsley.
The leaves of the plant look similar to the flat leaves of parsley and grow on long stems. The seeds of this plant are used to prepare coriander spice which is known to have a strikingly different taste from cilantro. The roots are also edible and can be used in a variety of dishes.
Cilantro vs. Coriander
Most people are often confused between cilantro and coriander. Even though they’re both taken from the same plant, they have different flavors and uses. Cilantro comprises of the leaves and stems of the coriander plant, whereas the coriander seeds are the seeds that are developed after the plant flowers and begins to fade. It’s also interesting to note that the Spanish word for coriander is cilantro, which is probably why it’s easier to mistake the two for each other.
What Does It Taste Like?
The taste of fresh cilantro is described to be pungent, lemon, and slightly peppery. There are a few people who dislike the flavor of cilantro and describe it as ‘soapy’. Once the leaves are cooked, the flavor is somewhat diminished and it’s more palatable. Dried cilantro only has a hint of flavor as compared to fresh cilantro.
How to Use Cilantro in Cooking
Cilantro is known to be a great pairing for a number of foods. You can mix into soups or sauces, add it into your sandwiches and casseroles, or use them in a marinade. For the freshest cilantro, it’s advisable to grow your own at home.
Here’s what you need to do before adding cilantro in any recipe:
- Separate the amount of cilantro you’ll be using in your recipe.
- Take a bowl, fill it with cold water, add the leaves inside, and swirl them around to get rid of all the dirt or bugs that may be hiding inside the leaves.
- After removing the leaves from the water, shake them gently to get rid of excess water.
- Carefully place the cilantro on paper towels and use another paper towel to pat the tops of the leaves dry.
- Get rid of any leaves that are wilted or yellow. Gently remove the leaves that you’d want to use in your recipe with your hands and set them aside.
- Use kitchen shears or a knife to cut them into smaller pieces so they’re easier to consume, before stirring them into your dish.
Watch this video to learn about fresh cilantro uses.
Picking out Cilantro
When you’re buying cilantro from the grocery store, you need to look for leaves that are bright green and aromatic. If your cilantro doesn’t have a smell, it’ll most likely have no flavor either. Avoid picking out cilantro with wilted stems and leaves that are yellowing. For the best flavor, consume it right away.
Can You Use the Cilantro Stem?
You may not know this, but cilantro stems are also quite flavorful and can be used in a variety of dishes. They have a more intense flavor than the leaves and have a crunchy texture that makes them a great addition for recipes that could do with a little bit of crunch.
If fresh cilantro is properly stored in the refrigerator, it can last for about 7 to 10 days. Here’s what you need to do maximize their shelf life in the fridge.
- Use kitchen shears to trim the ends of the cilantro and add them in a glass filled with about an inch of water.
- Cover the glass with a loose plastic bag and store it inside your refrigerator.
- Change the water when it gets cloudy.
Cilantro is the perfect herb that you can mix into your recipes or sprinkle on top as a garnish. You need to make sure you’re picking out the freshest cilantro for the best flavor and storing it properly in the refrigerator.
One way to tell if your cilantro has spoiled is if it has become unnaturally soft and looks discolored. Avoid using cilantro that has a strange smell or appearance.
We hope you found this blog post useful and learned a great deal about cilantro!