The Central New Yorker's Favorite Herb 

Cilantro (Coriander) Leaves

Cilantro and coriander are the same plant. You don’t have to be from Latin America or the Southwest to enjoy growing and using it. You can do it right here in Central New York. Related to parsley and native to Europe and southwestern Asia, coriander (KOR-ee-an-der) or cilantro (sih-LAHN-troh). is cultivated primarily for its leaves and seeds. When the primary use of it is the seeds it is commonly called coriander. The primary use in Latin American cooking, on the other hand, is the leaves. The leaves are commonly called cilantro. They serve as a basic ingredient for used in Latin American, all of Asia, the Mediterranean basin, the Southwest of the United States and Asian cooking. Oil used in the production of liqueurs can be extracted from the seeds.

Coriander usually refers to the dried seeds of common cilantro and has a flavor more often associated with curries than with salsa. The confusion in the name probably stems from where it is grown and how it is used. When it comes from Asia or the middle east in the ground dried form it was referred to as a spice called coriander. However, the leaves are extensively used in Latin America and the Southwest and it is called cilantro.

Coriander or Cilantro is an biennial herb of the family that includes parsley, dill celery, fennel, parsnip, caraway and carrot. All these herbs use the seeds, stalks, leaves and flower in some form. E.g. dill seed and dill weed, celery and celery seed and so on. The lower cilantro leaves are divided into fine, threadlike partitions; the white and pink flowers grow in small, loose clusters. Coriander is native to Europe and Asia Minor, but has become naturalized in the United States. It is cultivated for its fruit, dried seeds and ground seeds. Although the actual plant name is either coriander or cilantro the ground seeds are called coriander. It is used as a spice in a wide variety of foods. The pungent leaves are called cilantro a basic ingredient in Latin American and Asian cooking. The range of flavors created by coriander is the whole dried seeds are nutty and warm, the powder intense, the leaf vibrant. Freshly cut cilantro has a wonderfully pungent fragrant and makes your cooking a joy. Oil that is extracted from the seed is used in the preparation of liqueurs and is a medicine for abdominal discomfort.

Cooking

Like parsley, the leaves are best used fresh.

The leaves of this herb are referred to as cilantro, used in salsa, meat dishes, vinegars, soups, chili and other spicy cuisine. The flavor of cilantro is difficult to describe. Seeds from this herb are usually referred to as coriander, and used in curries.

Here are some really simple ideas for cooking delicious fish with the fresh cilantro leaves:

  1. Sautéed Haddock Filets

Cover top of filet with thin layer of hot salsa.
Sprinkle with generous amount of chopped fresh cilantro leaves.
Place filet in a frying pan with a little canola or olive oil skin side down.
Cover and sautéed until fish is done.

  1. Broiled Salmon Filets

Place fish in baking dish skin side down (also can be done on grill).
Spread the top with Dijon mustard and generously sprinkle with chopped fresh cilantro leaves.
Broil on lower rack until fish is done.

Do not over cook the fish.

Growing

Buy the seeds or you can also buy the plant.

Plant in herb garden close to your door or keep in pots for year round accessibility.
T
he first year the plant does not flower and yield seeds.
The second year the plant will flower, then yield seeds.
Let the seeds dry on the plant so the will seed themselves.
When the snow melted during the year the plants still had leaves and we were able to use them for cooking.