Have You Ever Heard of Cilantro Berries?

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I’ve often heard that people either love cilantro or loathe it. Those in the latter camp often describe its flavour as soapy, while those who love it rhapsodize about its floral, delicate citrus tones and bright aroma. I am definitely in the former category, an unabashed cilantro lover, and every summer my yard is decorated with this lovely annual herb reaching and stretching out of pots, most in varying degrees of maturity.

 

Also known as Chinese parsley, it is the bright green leaves and stems of cilantro that are most sought after; the feathery leaves are ubiquitous in much of Asian and South Asian cuisine and in Mexican cooking as well, and I cannot imagine a Mulligatawny soup without a few cilantro leaves floating on top, or a lively Mexican salsa without a generous amount of fresh chopped cilantro mixed in.

 

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Cilantro, as an herb grown specifically for its leaves does have a short growing season, a few weeks at best before the plant stars to bolt. Alas, those irresistible leaves change in shape and size and flavour; the leaves reduce in size and the plant’s energy all goes toward making its lovely little white flowers, and then the seeds that come thereafter. And of course it is the seeds of the cilantro plant that we (some of us, anyway) know and love as coriander. But fret not! Once the cilantro plant has gone to seed and produced coriander, a whole new vista of culinary delights awaits. Most of us are familiar with the little hard, dried coriander and use it in stews and pickling. Ground, it is an essential ingredient in garam masala and a must have ingredient for curries. To get the most bang out of dried coriander seeds, gently toast them for a few minutes until they become warm and fragrant and slightly nutty.

looks sad, yields magic

looks sad, yields magic

 

But here is the best part about this awesome herb: harvesting and eating the newly formed cilantro/coriander. Baby coriander? Fresh Coriander? The flavour profile is more intensified and robust, notes of nuts and redolent of perfumed and exotic shores, there are crunches and bursts of excitement and the duality of maturation, the green days of youth growing gold. Delicious!

Try a few little green berries on your next taco. Really amazing.

 

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