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Culantro


liuzhou
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Culantro, Eryngium foetidum, recao, Mexican coriander, long coriander, sawtooth coriander and more names and whatever you call it in English.

 

I had eaten this many times in Vietnam where it is ngò gai, but have recently started to find it here in China where it has more names again. And I have become enamoured!

Most references call it a herb which it is, botanically. However it isn't always used that way. I tend to use it more often as another great green vegetable. I'm wondering if anyone else does. Or how you use it generally.

 

 

culantrosawtooth2.thumb.jpg.4f41244bc4ee39145b26e58e6ec27a38.jpg

 

It is also a bit of a linguistic adventure. Often confused with cilantro or people think someone has mispelled cilantro. Of course, British English seldom, if ever uses 'cilantro', instead calling both the seeds and the leaves 'coriander'*. The thing that interests me is that 'cilantro', adopted from the Spanish was originally, in the 13th century ''culantro' only changing to 'cilantro' in the late 16th century.

('Coriander' is from the French, coriandre.)

 

Also, how do you pronounce 'culantro'? Wikipedia suggests it is pronounced with a hard 'c', ie 'k', yet I seldom hear that.

 

Quote

(/kuːˈlɑːntroʊ/ or /kuːˈlæntroʊ/)

Wikipedia

 

Finally, it is also commonly claimed that it is similar in taste to cilantro / coriander leaf. I don't see that and I know others agree with me.

 

*Is there any other herb or plant where the seeds and the plants have different names?

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

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Here in Costa Rica it is called cilantro as is the small leaf variety. But it is distinguished from that by calling it cilantro coyote because it grows wild here like a weed. I'm delighted when I'm find one that has popped up in my yard. I use it just as a seasoning and I much prefer it to the other variety. I've never thought of using it as vegetable. How do you use it, in stir fries?

As an interesting aside, culantro is not a word that you want to use in Mexico. It is slang for a part of the body of a woman and not used in a complimentary way.

 

Edited by Tropicalsenior (log)
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I love culantro - but I commonly refer to it as they do in Thailand and other parts of SE Asia - Sawtooth herb.  From what I am to understand (and could be completely wrong), culantro is the name for it in Mexico.  I gather is is pronounced with a hard c - like koo-LAN-tro which would be how you would pronounce it in Spanish.

 

I agree with you - I personally don't see that much connection to cilantro - although if I really stretch, I guess you could think it was a much more intense version of cilantro.

 

I used to grow it as it's not easy to come by in the stores near me.  I can get it in Chinatown or in Mexican markets.  Unfortunately, I'm not nearly as lucky as you and can't get the crown/roots - here they usually snip the stems at the crown so the plant continues to grow and put out more.  If I could, I'd get a few crowns and plant them.  I've tried growing from seed, but it's notoriously difficult with a ridiculously long germination period.  Once growing, it doesn't like a lot of light, similar to cilantro, but it is more heat tolerant before it bolts.  What is interesting is that the texture of the leaves varies with light proportion.  With the proper amount of light, the leaves and teeth (for lack of a better word) are nice and soft, but with too much light, the leaves can be much more tough and the teeth are REALLY sharp!!!  Don't ask me how I know... hehe.  One day soon I'm going to order a few plant starts (I just hate to pay all that cost for shipping) for some sawtooth and some other herbs that either only propagate via cuttings/division or are difficult to germinate.

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1 minute ago, Tropicalsenior said:

Most definitely wrong. In fact, don't even think about it.

I don't understand what I don't understand.  Is it not called culantro in Mexico?  Why do all the Mexican markets near me call it that?  Or do you mean that it's not only called culantro in Mexico but other parts of latin america as well?

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I buy it from ethic markets here in the NJ area. I use it the same as cilantro and put some on my pizza yesterday night. 

 

I think it's pretty expensive - like 3x the price of cilantro and parsley. I have not had it stir fried. I think it would cost like $20 a pound so a stir fry might cost over $20 or so (more than prime rib eye steak). 

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11 minutes ago, eugenep said:

I buy it from ethic markets here in the NJ area. I use it the same as cilantro and put some on my pizza yesterday night. 

 

I think it's pretty expensive - like 3x the price of cilantro and parsley. I have not had it stir fried. I think it would cost like $20 a pound so a stir fry might cost over $20 or so (more than prime rib eye steak). 

Yes, here in the NY/NJ area it's quite expensive - but like just about every other herb or vegetable, in SE Asia, it's ridiculously cheap so it can definitely be used as a vegetable... Or like in southern Vietnam, part of a giant bush of multiple herbs that comes with so many different things.

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4 minutes ago, KennethT said:

Yes, here in the NY/NJ area it's quite expensive - but like just about every other herb or vegetable, in SE Asia, it's ridiculously cheap so it can definitely be used as a vegetable... Or like in southern Vietnam, part of a giant bush of multiple herbs that comes with so many different things.

same here. Plus instead of selling loose bunches they pack it on styrofoam trays and plastic wrap the poor herb. I rarely see it on the greenery platter in Vietnamese restos here - probably also because of cost.

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19 minutes ago, KennethT said:

Is it not called culantro in Mexico

In Mexico it is called cilantro. Culantro is slang for c**t. Don't ask me why, I don't understand Mexican slang. This is one thing that did stick in my mind because I learned it in a very embarrassing way when we were there.

I don't remember seeing the Sawtooth variety when we were in Mexico but I'm sure that they must have it because it grows like a weed in all the other Central American countries that I've been in.

Although it grows wild here, it is extremely hard to cultivate and grow when you want it to. It is almost impossible to germinate from seeds and the plants do not transplant well. Every once in awhile one will pop up in my yard and I will have it for a while. But I usually don't worry about it because it is so cheap here and all the supermarkets carry it. About 25 cents a bunch.

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Do you eat the roots like with cilantro/coriander?

 

I was curious about their taxonomy and their relation.  According to wikipedia:

Culantro: Eryngium foetidum

Cilantro: Coriandrum sativum

 

Looks like they are both in the same family, Apiaceae, which also includes carrots, celery, and parsley :)

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3 minutes ago, jedovaty said:

Do you eat the roots like with cilantro/coriander?

 

I was curious about their taxonomy and their relation.  According to wikipedia:

Culantro: Eryngium foetidum

Cilantro: Coriandrum sativum

 

Looks like they are both in the same family, Apiaceae, which also includes carrots, celery, and parsley :)

 

They are in the same botanical family, but very different it terms of genus. Nothing like carrots, for example.

 

The roots are not normally eaten by humans!

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

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25 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

 

They are in the same botanical family, but very different it terms of genus. Nothing like carrots, for example.

 

Cool!  I'm going to try finding some here, shouldn't be too tough in so cal.

FWIW, I like to mix up carrot greens with cilantro and parsley when doing various herb things like falafel, rice, pesto, chimichurri, etc.  I know the practice is not authentic and probably odd to some, but those leaves are all similar and I like what they do with each other.  I'm really curious now to try culantro and see if it would continue the flavor path or clash.

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18 minutes ago, heidih said:

Yes she is in Ontario, Canada - that tropical clime  ;) Worth keeping an eye out. 

Ha! Seriously, literally every store I've seen it in in the NYC area has it without the crowns.  There have been times that I bought some with the express intent of planting.  No matter what anyone online tells you, no matter how much rooting hormone you use, culantro ribs (without the crown) won't root.

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6 hours ago, Tropicalsenior said:

Here in Costa Rica it is called cilantro as is the small leaf variety. But it is distinguished from that by calling it cilantro coyote because it grows wild here like a weed. I'm delighted when I'm find one that has popped up in my yard. I use it just as a seasoning and I much prefer it to the other variety. I've never thought of using it as vegetable. How do you use it, in stir fries?

As an interesting aside, culantro is not a word that you want to use in Mexico. It is slang for a part of the body of a woman and not used in a complimentary way.

 

 

Is the slang word in Mexico pronounced with a hard C? If not it seems like an easy mistake to make. I wonder what the herb is called there.

It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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