Cilantro is also called coriander, Chinese parsley, and cuzbara.
This is a spice I really like. It has a sharp, crispy smell and a distinctive taste. Technically, cilantro comes from the green leaves and stems of the coriander plant.
I still have trouble telling the difference between parsley and cilantro upon first glance. With close scrutiny, the leaves are smaller and more ragged, and the aroma is a lively pungent fragrance not found in parsley. Even if you make a mistake, it will give you some interesting variations.
Cilantro is used in Asian and Latin American cooking, as well as Middle Eastern cooking. It can be found year round. In Israel it is best purchased in the bug-free variety because it is difficult to check for bugs.
It has a very different flavor fresh and dry although I use them interchangeably, depending on what I have available.
Coriander seeds are a real delight. I use them crushed with sauteed fish. I use fresh chopped cilantro in many of my regular preparations just to “spice” things up like fried eggs, tuna salad, macaroni salad and salad dressings.
Here are some other K.I.S.S. [Keep It Simple Sweetheart] recipes made with cilantro. I hope you enjoy them.
SWEET AND SOUR CHICKEN WITH PINEAPPLE
1 can of pineapple chunks
sweet and sour sauce (directions follow)
3 tbsps. soy oil
1 3/4 pounds chicken breasts, skinned, boned, and cut in half by 2-inch strips
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1 medium-size onion, thinly sliced
1 medium-size green pepper, seeded and cut in thin strips
About 4 cups hot, cooked rice
Fresh coriander sprigs (cilantro or Chinese parsley)
Just before cooking, drain the can of pineapple chunks; reserve juice for other use.
Prepare sweet and sour sauce and set aside.
Place wok over high heat. When wok is hot, add 2 tablespoons of the oil. When oil is hot, add chicken and garlic; stir-fry until chicken is opaque (about 4 minutes); remove from wok and set aside.
Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to wok. When oil is hot, add onion and green pepper. Stir-fry for about 1 minute, or until tender-crisp. Return chicken to wok. Add sweet and sour souce and pineapple. Stir until liquid boils and thickens (about 1 minute).
Spoon equal portions of chicken mixture into a serving dish; mound the mixture at one end and spook in equal portions of rice alongside. Garnish with sprigs of coriander, if desired.
Makes 4 servings.
Sweet and Sour Sauce:
Stir together 4 teaspoons cornstarch, 1/4 cup each sugar and wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons minced fresh coriander (cilantro) or 1 1/2 tsps. dry cilantro leaves, 2 tbsps. catsup, 1 tablespoon each soy sauce and dry sherry, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon each salt and crushed red pepper, and 1/4 cup regular-strength chicken broth.
CILANTRO CARROTS WITH CUMIN
2 lbs. carrots, each cut into 2-inch-long pieces, then quartered lengthwise
6 tbsps. water
3 tbsps. fresh lemon juice
3 tbsps. olive oil
2 tbsps. ground cumin
2 garlic cloves, pressed
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
Combine carrots and 6 tbsps. water in a large saucepan. Season with salt. Cover and boil until carrots are crisp-tender, about 7 minutes. Drain off any excess water. Transfer carrots to a large shallow bowl. Mix in lemon juice,oil, cumin and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cool. Add cilantro. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at cool room temperature.)
Makes 8 servings.
2 large dried chili peppers
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes
2 green onions, finely chopped
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 large garlic clove, minced
3/4 tsps. sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
Place chilies in bowl. Cover with hot water. Soak until soft, about 20 minutes. Drain. Cut open; scrape out seeds. Cut off stems and coarsely chop chilies.
Blanch tomatoes in boiling water for about 20 seconds. Drain and peel. Cut in half. Chop tomatoes.
Combine chilies and 3/4 cup tomatoes in processor; puree until smooth. Transfer to bowl. Mix in remaining tomatoes, green onions, cilantro, garlic, sugar and cumin. Season with salt. Cover; chill up to 1 day.
SPICY CHICKEN WINGS
1/2 cup any type wine
2 tbsps. vinegar
2 tbsps. lemon juice
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsps. minced garlic
2 tsps. salt
2 tbsps. ground cumin
2 tsps. cayenne pepper
2 tbsps. chopped cilantro for marinade
24 chicken wings
2 tbsps. chopped cilantro for garnish
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Marinate chicken wings from 15 minutes until overnight – the longer the better – but 15 minutes is sufficient.
Preheat oven 375°F. Cook up covered 45 minutes. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Baste chicken wings for extra crispiness. Personally, I cook my wings hotter. I love them on the well-done side.