Cilantro's taste is a fragrant mix of citrus and parsley. A member of the carrot family it is also called Chinese Parsley and Coriander leaves. Cilantro comes from Coriander plant and this is the only plant that produces two spices. Cilantro is the leaves while Coriander is most often referred to as the seeds of the plant. Cilantro has a very pungent odor and is frequently found in Mexican, Caribbean and Asian cooking.
Discerning cooks prefer to use fresh cilantro but often your recipe only calls for just a little bit and of course the grocery stores won’t sell you “just a pinch”. Keeping some dried cilantro on hand for emergencies (or when your store bought cilantro goes bad way too fast) is not a bad idea.
Like Parsley, Cilantro is often sprinkled on the top of cooked dishes, curries, sauces, soups and stews. We like cilantro best in Mexican dishes – add it to bean dips, salsas or mix it in with low fat sour cream and use it as a topping for burritos, chili, enchiladas or tacos. In Asian dishes we like to use it in stir fries.
The Coriander plant grows wild in SE Europe and is also harvested in China, Egypt and India. Mentions of it are found in the Sanskrit text as well as the Bible. It was introduced into Mexico and Peru by the Spanish conquistadors where it now commonly partnered with the various chiles found in the local cuisine. Cilantro has also become a fixture in the Western and the Southwestern regions of the US.
Often we hear from customers asking "How much dried cilantro to use in place of fresh?".If you do need to use dried cilantro in place of fresh a good general rule of thumb is 2 Tablespoons of dried cilantro for every 1/4 cup fresh cilantro.
Cilantro works well in combination with avocado, chicken, chile peppers, fish, ice cream (yes ice cream), lamb, mayo, pork, rice, salads, salsas, shellfish, sour cream, tomatoes and yogurt.
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