Cilantro is a herb used worldwide. While often referred to as Chinese parsley in Asian cookbooks (Mexican parsley is another common nickname), cilantro has a stronger, more distinct flavor than parsley.
Cilantro features prominently in Chinese cooking. Cilantro leaves and stems are frequently used to garnish Chinese salads, or chopped up and mixed in dressings and sauces. Cilantro is used in other South-east Asian cuisines as well. For example, cilantro roots make a pungent addition to Thai curries.
Although cilantro comes from the coriander plant, the spice doesn't play a large role in Chinese cuisine. In Chinese cookbooks you may find coriander described as a plant somewhat similar to parsley, with no mention made of the spice at all. And it is common to find recipes calling for fresh coriander, meaning cilantro leaves. While it would be inaccurate to say Chinese cooks never use coriander, it plays a greater role in Indian and Indonesian cuisines. In addition, coriander seeds impart a lemony flavor to many Thai dishes.
When purchasing cilantro (also called Chinese parsley), check for leaves that have a bright green color with no yellow spots, and no evidence of wilting. Fresh cilantro doesn't last long, and you'll need to store it in the refrigerator. One method is to put the cilantro in an air-filled, securely closed plastic bag in the vegetable crisper section of your refrigerator. However, I prefer another recommended method; placing the cilantro in a cup of water (stems down like you would with flowers), covering the cup with a plastic bag, and returning it to the refrigerator. If you change the water every two days the cilantro should last up to two weeks. Be sure to wash it thoroughly before using.
If you are using coriander seeds, check to see if they need to be washed before storage. The seeds can be dried in the sun or in the oven on a low temperature. Another tip is to dry roast the seeds before grinding them, as this helps bring out their unique fragrance.
Gardening buffs might want to consider growing their own coriander plants. A hardy annual that thrives in loamy soil in direct sunlight, coriander should be planted at the same time that you would plant parsley in your particular area.
Coriander and Cilantro Recipes (if a recipe calls for fresh coriander, that is cilantro)
Bow Thai Pasta with Shrimp
Chinese Peanut Sauce with Cilantro and Mint leaves
Cilantro Chicken Wings
Jook With Turkey
Mapo Dofu (can use ground coriander instead of Szechuan peppercorn if desired)
Mint-Coriander Chutney - a classic Indian chutney
Orange-Cilantro Marinade for Fish or Chicken - a Mexican recipe
Peruvian Cilantro Chicken
Pho Bo - Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup
Pork Stuffed Fuzzy Melon (Mo Qua)
Potstickers and Dipping Sauce
Potstickers With Prawn and Cilantro
Pumpkin Soup With Cilantro Pesto
Quick and Easy Pineapple Fried Rice
Spanish Cilantro Green Sauce
Stir-fried Chicken with Mango
Vegetarian Restaurant Style Salad Rolls
Vegetarian Thai Green Curry - uses fresh coriander and coriander seeds
Xinjiang Lamb and Chile Grill
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