Tuesday, May 17, 2011

May's Featured Ingredient: Cilantro

Cilantro is an herb that closely resembles parsley.  A relative of the carrot family, it is extremely fragrant and flavorful.  Natural compliments to this refreshing herb includes garlic, citrus, tomatoes and onions.  It also helps to add a savory component to sweet tropical fruits such as pineapple, mango, and papaya.

Cilantro is best known for its pungent flavor in Mexican inspired cuisine, such as in pico de gallo (fresh salsa).  However, its use is not limited to Central American cooking.  In fact, cilantro has been cultivated in other international regions for thousands of years prior to its use in Mexican foods.  Cilantro can be found being grown and harvested in South East Europe, Egypt, India and parts of China.

The term cilantro is believed to have originated from the Greek word "koris", literally meaning "bedbug".  Cilantro is said to have a similar aroma that of bedbugs; this may be a disgusting fact, however, true!  Cilantro was used in ancient potions said to give women fertility and the immortalization of human life.  Cilantro is said to be an appetite stimulant.

Alternative names for cilantro include Chinese parsley, and koriandron.  Though some refer to cilantro as "coriander", the term coriander typically refers to the seed of cilantro rather than the leaves of the plant.  Coriander (cilantro seed) is referred to as a spice, while cilantro (grown coriander) is classified as an herb.

When selecting cilantro, leaves should be rich green in color; never yellow or brown.  Leaves should be securely fastened to the stem of the plant.  Before storing, rinse leaves gently in running cool water to wash off any excess dirt that can cause cilantro to prematurely rot.  Cilantro should be moist when storing, but not excessively wet.
~ Smacznego! ~

1 comment:

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