Drink Magazine

Ingredient Spotlight: Cilantro

By Lucasryden @saborkitchen

Despite their delicate qualities, fresh herbs and spices are the backbone of every great cuisine.  Most people don’t realize that.  When they think of Italian or Chinese food, rice and pasta comes to mind.  Not basil and ginger.   They think they know what they’re eating, but in reality they have absolutely no idea what’s going on behind the scenes.  I like to think of a great dish as a movie production: you have your main actors (starch, protein, vegetable) that get most of the credit.  Yet behind their Oscar-winning performance is a hardworking team of herbs, spices, and other seasonings that direct and edit the final cut.

ingredient spotlight: cilantro

Enter cilantro: the leafy green director of Mexican cuisine.  Cilantro is actually the Spanish word for coriander, which is a popular spice in many cuisines around the world.  It has its roots (pun intended) throughout Western Asia and the Mediterranean, where it was prized by the ancient Egyptians for its medicinal and healing properties.  The British introduced it to North America in the late 17th century, where it gained significant popularity in Mexico and Latin America.  I think it’s safe to say this was one of the only crowning achievements the British Crown ever had on global gastronomy.  Sorry Heston, but your country’s food still sucks.  Maybe try using more coriander.

Many dishes in the Mexican repertoire incorporate cilantro in both its fresh and dry forms.  Cooks swoon over its unique, flowery aroma and its ability to complement a host of other flavors. When combined with spicy ingredients like jalapeño or serrano chilies, it has a curious, somewhat cooling effect on the palate.  This would explain its leading role in almost every salsa you’ve ever tasted.   Ohh, so that’s what those little green specks are.

Cilantro has spread itself all over SABOR, like a freshman cheerleader on her first date with the varsity quarterback.  You’d be hard-pressed to find a recipe that doesn’t include any.   But maybe that’s a good thing.  Backbones are rather important, after all.

Related recipes:

so.cal ceviche
tequila glazed chicken
black bean tostadas
cilantro oil
mango avocado salsa

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