April 8, 2005

Cilantro and/or Coriander

Cilantro and/or coriander (scientific name: Coriandum Sativum): might be categorized as both a spice and an herb. Cilantro refers to the leaves of the plant (an herb) while coriander is produced from the seeds (a spice), each of which has a quite distinct taste.

A member of the parsley family and featured largely in Middle-Eastern, Indian, Chinese, and Latin cuisines. Generally thought to have originated in the mediterranean or south-western areas of Europe. References to coriander can be found in Sanskrit writings and the Old Testament. Seeds have been discovered in Egyptian tombs. The Greeks believed coriander to have aphrodisiac properties; while Chinese folklore says the same of cilantro. The book The Arabian Nights tells a tale of a merchant who had been childless for 40 years but was cured by a concoction that included coriander.

Finding fresh, non-wilted cilantro can be a challenge. Look for bunches with bright green leaves and a fragrant aroma. Store in a plastic bag or place the roots in a container of water. It may last up to 5 days, but the flavor fades fast. Coriander seeds can be found in any spice aisle of a large grocery store. (I order mine from Penzey's.) As with most spices, it's best to buy them whole and grind them as needed. Keep in a cool, dark place.

Posted by Jennifer at April 8, 2005 4:06 PM

We love cilantro; here's my hubby's birthday meal request (we call it Cilantro Lime Shrimp):

Cut down on the red pepper flakes if you're not accustomed to hot foods. I use the marinade as part of the rice liquids as a side dish.

He was very happy to hear about cilantro possibly helping to remove heavy metals (mercury, aluminum and lead) from the body, since he has the 'mercury fillings':

Cilantro the natural chelator:

Posted by: Sherri at April 10, 2005 12:17 PM

Thanks for the links - especially the recipe. I'm hoping to do a fair number of cilantro and/or coriander recipes during the rest of this month and I'm particularly looking for ones that feature it as an ingredient. They're harder to find than I expected.

Posted by: Jennifer at April 10, 2005 2:45 PM

We do cook quite a bit with cilantro, but not nearly as much with coriander. I guess we're usually a bit daunted about messing around with the seeds! Saying that the flavor in unwilted cilantro lasts for 5 days may be a generous estimate. Perhaps we've had poor selection of fresh herb, but it seems like the flavor takes a serious turn downward after about three days. Our favorite Mexican restaurant in town makes their fajitas bathed in cilantro, and it's so good that we could eat those at nearly every meal.

Posted by: Joe at May 23, 2005 6:09 PM
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