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Cilantro


Sweet Willie
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There is a popular Cantonese quick soup where lots of cilantro, thousand years egg, and a bit of pork is simmered for 10-20min. I make it all the time when there is no time for soup but I still need to put soup on the table. My family also add some chopped up cilantro into sticky rice.

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Cilantro as a garnish does a hell of a lot more than just give a nice look to a dish. Unless you make a big effort not to eat it, of course, and it's hard to avoid in some dishes. Cilantro has a distinctive aromatic flavor which in my experience so far, people usually either really like (me) or really dislike.

My experience definitely bears out Ben's remarks about cilantro's relative prevalence in Northern Chinese cuisine. Whenever we got pickles in Beijing, fresh cilantro was included (much to our chagrin, as we were afraid of contagion from fresh raw vegetables). I also agree with Jason on its use in Shanghainese and Sichuan style, such as in cold dishes. As far as I can remember, most any time I've had Beef Tendon in Hot Oil and similar dishes, cilantro has been included.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I remember a treat from my youth in HK. These were 8-10" paper thin egg disks with pieces of cilantro baked into them. I think it's more for garnish than flavour. These disks were so delicate that once I was caught by a gust of wind and my disk fell apart and flew away! :sad:

Huh?... Egg disks?

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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I agree with all said that cilantro is more used as a garnish.

My late father had a signature dish using cilantro: Fish filet and cilantro soup. It is pretty simple, but will taste best if you have really fresh fresh-water fish.

Take a fish, skin and filet it. Each slice is about 1/4 inch thick. You can use the bones and simmer them for about 30 - 45 minutes to extract the flavor. Discard the bones. Marinate the fish filet with white pepper, sesame oil, salt. After discarding the bones, turn the heat up to bring the soup to a boil. Add a bundle of cilantro, then the fish filet. The fish meat cooks very quickly. Boil no more than 3 minutes. That's it. Very tasty and simple.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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I remember a treat from my youth in HK. These were 8-10" paper thin egg disks with pieces of cilantro baked into them. I think it's more for garnish than flavour. These disks were so delicate that once I was caught by a gust of wind and my disk fell apart and flew away! :sad:

Huh?... Egg disks?

I had a hard time trying to describe this treat. It's a very thin, disk-like cookie? Imagine one of those egg roll cookies you buy in tins, rolled out and flattened some more.

Hzrt: You'll probably have a name for them!

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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Rhoda Yee uses cilantro in her recipe for Pot Stickers and several other Dim Sum dishes.

And Deh-Ta Hsiung has a couple of recpes: Fish Slices and Cilantro Soup, and Stir-Fried Chicken with Cilantro. The last he got from the late Kenneth Lo. DTH doesn't know the origin but "suspects that it must have come from Ken's home province of Fujian in Southeast China."who home province was Fujian.

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I love cilantro. I can eat it like a salad green. It's one those things that fall into like or dislike, or more strongly stated love or hate. What strikes me the most about this herb as I'm typing is how much it's used in dfferent cuisines throughout the world. I wonder if it's the most universal herb? It's found south of the border (I'm in LA), in Asia and in North Africa. My husband who has a more love/hate relationship recalls his Algerian maman adding it an array of tajines.

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As has been said, it is commonly found in northern dishes, often paired with lamb or especially in soups. Even in northern hotpot, cilantro will typically be found in the pot, in the dipping sauce, or both. It definitely plays a much greater role than just being a garnish.

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I was at Spicy & Tasty -- a Sichuan-style restaurant -- again for dinner tonight, and I noticed that some customers were ordering a whole fish (braised, I think), that had a large quantity of chopped cilantro (including stems) all over the top of it. I'd call that more than a garnish, too.

touaregsand, there's no way cilantro is a universal herb. In Northern Europe, dill is favored. Think of borsht with cilantro. That would strike people as really weird.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I love cilantro. I can eat it like a salad green. It's one those things that fall into like or dislike, or more strongly stated love or hate. What strikes me the most about this herb as I'm typing is how much it's used in dfferent cuisines throughout the world. I wonder if it's the most universal herb? It's found south of the border (I'm in LA), in Asia and in North Africa. My husband who has a more love/hate relationship recalls his Algerian maman adding it an array of tajines.

Anthropologist Margaret Visser (Much Depends on Dinner and several other books on the anthropology of food) divides cultures into "Parsley Cultures" and "Cilantro Cultures." Very few use both. (I fall into the cilantro-lovers camp.)

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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I was at Spicy & Tasty -- a Sichuan-style restaurant -- again for dinner tonight, and I noticed that some customers were ordering a whole fish (braised, I think), that had a large quantity of chopped cilantro (including stems) all over the top of it. I'd call that more than a garnish, too.

touaregsand, there's no way cilantro is a universal herb. In Northern Europe, dill is favored. Think of borsht with cilantro. That would strike people as really weird.

Who are you calling weird? :unsure::laugh::laugh:

Actually I want both dill and cilantro in my borsht. :wink:

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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I love cilantro. I can eat it like a salad green. It's one those things that fall into like or dislike, or more strongly stated love or hate. What strikes me the most about this herb as I'm typing is how much it's used in dfferent cuisines throughout the world. I wonder if it's the most universal herb? It's found south of the border (I'm in LA), in Asia and in North Africa. My husband who has a more love/hate relationship recalls his Algerian maman adding it an array of tajines.

Anthropologist Margaret Visser (Much Depends on Dinner and several other books on the anthropology of food) divides cultures into "Parsley Cultures" and "Cilantro Cultures." Very few use both. (I fall into the cilantro-lovers camp.)

North Africans use both. But I think that's the only example I can think of.

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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I've seen it in a clear soup with strips of tofu, bamboo shoots and shredded pork. My in laws call it 'do woo gan', which translates to tofu stew. I'm told it's pretty common to Shanghai.

Be polite with dragons, for thou art crunchy and goeth down well with ketchup....

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Cilantro was never one of my fav flavors, but I had a shock one time that convinced me of it's place.

DH and I were in the Yucatan fishing and there was a Mayan chef at the little place we stayed. He made the most memorable Tortilla soup I ever had. WHAT A BROTH! I was able to wheedle the recipe from him and when I got home I make it. It called for cilantro, which turned me off, so I added only a very small amount. The broth was just so-so. I thought I just didn't have the touch for Tortilla Soup that a professional had.

The following year, we had the same soup and sure enough, when I drank the broth, I analyzed it and the cilantro WAS there and made the difference. Altho the cilantro flavor in the chefs soup wasn't outstanding, it was enough to give a fantastic depth of flavor.

My respect for cilantro changed!

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touaregsand, there's no way cilantro is a universal herb. In Northern Europe, dill is favored. Think of borsht with cilantro. That would strike people as really weird.

Who are you calling weird? :unsure::laugh::laugh:

Actually I want both dill and cilantro in my borsht. :wink:

Sue-On, that might well be tasty, but I think you get my point about the expectations of Northern Europeans. I think the main reason my parents tend to dislike cilantro is that they grew up with dill as the aromatic fresh green herb in their food (plus parsley, but that's not so aromatic). Chicken soup with dill, matzo ball soup with dill, flanken soup with dill, borsht with dill, etc. My father even said something to that effect to me.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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In the UK we call it coriander and it's widespread in British supermarkets and restaurants, probably due to the massive popularity of South Asian cuisine. I love it - I throw it in soups and pasta and it goes really well with cheese (try making an omelette filled with coriander, melted cheese, fresh chillies, shredded ginger and spring onion :rolleyes:, or sprinkled over cheese on toast with black pepper or a little chilli oil - it's the nuts!)

Chinese? I've had steamed whole fish dressed with soy sauce and peanut oil and served on a bed of whole coriander sprigs, but I'm not sure we were meant to eat them - although I did :laugh:, but that's pretty much it.

However, in Ken Hom's The Taste of China (great book) there's a recipe from Kunming (Yunnan) for Stir-fried Goat with Coriander. It's delicious! Use lamb, if you can't get goat. According to Hom coriander is a standard in southern China, but I wouldn't know. If anyone knows any Yunnan or other southern eateries in London or Hong Kong, tell me!

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touaregsand, there's no way cilantro is a universal herb. In Northern Europe, dill is favored. Think of borsht with cilantro. That would strike people as really weird.

Who are you calling weird? :unsure::laugh::laugh:

Actually I want both dill and cilantro in my borsht. :wink:

Sue-On, that might well be tasty, but I think you get my point about the expectations of Northern Europeans.

[/quote

I understand what you're saying, Pan. :smile:

I love dill almost as much as cilantro, but I wouldn't want it in my congee. :wink:

Piers, Do you call fresh cilantro "coriander"? I thought coriander was actually the seeds from which cilantro grows. :unsure:

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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Dejah

touaregsand, there's no way cilantro is a universal herb. In Northern Europe, dill is favored. Think of borsht with cilantro. That would strike people as really weird.

Poor choice of words on my part. What I meant was is cilantro found in cusines around the world more than any other? I can't think of one that is more common.

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Dejah
touaregsand, there's no way cilantro is a universal herb. In Northern Europe, dill is favored. Think of borsht with cilantro. That would strike people as really weird.

Poor choice of words on my part. What I meant was is cilantro found in cusines around the world more than any other? I can't think of one that is more common.

That's Pan's borsht :wink:

Mine has cilantro. :laugh::laugh:

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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  • 2 weeks later...

I saw it used alot on Beijing noodle soups: la mein tang. hated it then. Like it now. I think my tastebuds are growing dimmer.

I'm a canning clean freak because there's no sorry large enough to cover the, "Oops! I gave you botulism" regrets.

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  • 1 year later...
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