Cooking with Fresh Herbs: Cilantro

BlogHer Original Post

I've been wildly enthusiastic about cooking with fresh herbs for so long that I can't really remember back to when I wasn't using them. Yet as much as I consider fresh herbs to be a kitchen necessity, I know plenty of people don't have much experience cooking with them. I thought it might be helpful to do a series of posts on BlogHer about cooking with fresh herbs, featuring a different herb every few weeks. I'm starting with cilantro, without a doubt the most controversial herb of them all.

Cilantro is actually the leaf of the plant that produces coriander seed, and it's called coriander leaf in many places. Other names for the plant are dhania and Chinese Parsley. It's an herb that's widely used in cuisines all over the world, including Mexico, Asia, India, and the Middle East. I've found cilantro to be rather difficult to grow in the garden, but in the United States it's fairly inexpensive to buy year-round at the grocery store.

Before I talk about how much I love cilantro, let me assure you that I realize that some people really do hate cilantro. So my first tip about cooking with cilantro is to be sure that none of the people you're cooking for are cilantro-adverse, which may be a genetic trait, according to Wikipedia. Don't think for a minute you'll be able to sneak in a little cilantro, since it's well documented that it has a somewhat soapy taste for people who have the anti-cilantro gene. I have a hard time understanding it, since cilantro is many people's favorite herb, but I've learned to ask if people like it before I plan it for a dinner party.

Helen from Beyond Salmon makes an interesting distinction between Soft Herbs and Hard Herbs which is worth a read if you're just venturing into cooking with fresh herbs. Helen puts cilantro into the category of soft herbs which should be added right at the end of cooking a dish, when it's being taken off the heat. I personally would go even farther and say cilantro is really at its best when it's chopped up and eaten raw.

Here are few recipes using cilantro that I think sounded interesting.

Cilantro in Sauce, Chutney, Pesto, or Dips
Dhania Chutney from 365 Days of Pure Vegetarian
Zhoug, Spicy Yemeni Sauce from Morsels and Musings
Cilantro Pesto from Talk of Tomatoes
Low-Fat Lime Cilantro Hummus from Urban Drivel
Onion, Cilantro, and Lime Juice Relish from For the Love of Cooking
Cucumber and Cilantro Dip from Fun and Food
Cilantro Aoioli from Laylita's Recipes
Pineapple Cilantro Salsa from 28 Cooks

Cilantro in Salads
Napa Cabbage Picnic Salad from Simply Recipes
Cilantro-Lime Broccoli Slaw from Gluten-Free Bay
Spicy Coleslaw with Lime and Cilantro from Homesick Texan
South of the Border Cous Cous from Albion Cooks
Thai Beef Tacos with Lime Cilantro Slaw from The Recipe Girl
Corn and Black Bean Salad with Lime Cilantro Vinaigrette from Good Things Catered

Cilantro with Chicken
Cilantro Chicken from Tasting Spoons
Broiled Butterflied Chicken with Cilantro Marinade from Kits Chow
Thai Grilled Chicken with Cilantro Dipping Sauce from Andrea's Recipes
Cilantro Chicken with Fresh Water Chestnuts and Baby Bok Choy from Tigers and Strawberries
Cilantro Citrus Chicken from Cafe Johnsonia

What's your take on Cilantro?
If you're a cilantro lover, you can find more cilantro recipes using Food Blog Search. If you're a cilantro hater, let me know what type of fresh herb you'd like to read about next.

(Edit - You can use the tag Cooking with Fresh Herbs to find all the herb posts in this series.)

BlogHer Food Editor Kalyn Denny also blogs at Kalyn's Kitchen where she can never get too much cilantro. If you're a cilantro lover, Kalyn recommends Cilantro Salsa Dip, Spicy Mexican Slaw with Lime and Cilantro, and Roasted Tilapia with Black Bean, Mango, Lime and Cilantro Salsa.


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