The siblings of seasoning, otherwise known as Coriander and Cilantro, provide a nice contrast of taste sensations. Coming from the same plant, this spice and herb has a rich history dating as far back as 5,000 BC. I can’t even wrap my mind around how old that is.
Basically, coriander is the seed (used as a spice) for the plant (or herb) known as cilantro, also known as “chinese parsley”. I wonder if chinese parsley is more of an old-school name – because I pretty much always see and use the name cilantro when referring to this delicious herb.
But let’s start with Coriander, shall we? This spice is sold whole or ground – I’ve only ever used the ground version myself. It has predominantly always been used in Asian, and especially Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking. Coriander has also been found in ancient Egyptian tombs and is even given a shout-out in the Old Testament.
Historically, Coriander was used to flavor breads and help preserve meats. Today it can be found in a wide variety of cuisines – most notably (as already mentioned) in Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines, as well as Indian and Mediterranean. Coriander also has a reputation for being one of the more healthier spices – research has confirmed different positive effects on the body, such as lowering/controlling blood sugar, cholesterol and for its anti-inflammatory properties as well.
Personally, I love the stuff. I use the ground up version and I basically use it whenever I use cumin – I think it has an almost flowery odor, which I think complements the more earthy flavor of cumin. It adds an extra depth of flavor that I find very nice and delicious. Yum!
Now, let’s think of cilantro as coriander’s sassy sister. She’s a sharp herb – with a definite, unmistakable flavor that people either love or hate. Personally – she’s one of my favorite herbs – EVER. There’s certain things like salsa, tom kha gai, et al – that just aren’t the same without cilantro. And I say the more the better! Cilantro is always cheap enough in the grocery store, that I always try to have some on hand at home. If it ever goes bad, I don’t worry about throwing it out as I know I’ll get some more. And at $1-$2 a bunch – I pretty much always have it and am always using it. But it’s best stored in a plastic bag and it’ll keep for about a week. I’ve also found if the leaves lose their scent, then it pretty much won’t have any flavor.
I’ve had cilantro a lot in both Asian and Mexican cooking. I first discovered it living in Texas, in a lot of tex mex restaurants and cooking. Chop it up and throw it on pretty much any Mexican food and I’m all over it. Not a fan of cilantro? I have no earthly idea why you would not just love it to death, but perhaps you might be interested in this site. I guess there are as many people passionate about their dislike of cilantro (weirdos), as there are people in love with this this lovely plant.
Cilantro and Coriander. 2 (very) different flavors. One spice. One herb. One plant. Enjoy!