You say “cilantro.” I say “culantro.” I discovered this interesting herb on a recent trip to my local farmer’s market. Native to Mexico and South America, culantro belongs in a league of its own. A cousin to cilantro, yet the two look nothing alike. Culantro has dark green glossy serrated leaves with harmless spiny thorns. Like lavender and rosemary, brushing up against culantro gives off its strong scent, similar to cilantro but with a hint of citrus.
So how do we use this easy to grow herb in meals and recipes? Fairly new to the United States, chefs are using culantro leaves as garnishes and shredding it into soups. Because of its pungent flavor, you won’t need a lot to flavor any dish. Popular in Latin and Indian recipes, it’s used primarily in meat dishes and stews. Vietnamese Pho Soup wouldn’t be Pho Soup without culantro.
Boasting high contents of nutrients like iron, calcium and beta-carotene, culantro leaves can be boiled and made into a tea to stave off flu and pneumonia. It also stimulates the appetite and helps aid digestion.
Growing culantro on your own is as easy as growing any other herb. It’s likely your local nursery won’t carry the plant, but seed catalogs make it an easy find.
Ask us where you can get it in Rochester and San Diego, we have an insider tip ;).