Get to know: Coriander
What is Coriander?
Coriander is a herb that is produced from a round, tan-coloured seed of Coriandrum sativum plant, which is a member of the parsley family. The word coriander is commonly used to describe the whole plant such as the leaves, stem and seeds.
What does it taste like?
The coriander seeds have a floral aroma with a pleasant lemony flavour. The seeds go hand in hand with cumin seeds as they both compliment one another flavours. The leaves taste completely different from its seeds and therefore can not substitute each other.
Fresh coriander leaves are pungent and for those who enjoy eating this herb would describe its flavours as refreshing and lime-like and for those who dislike the flavour has described it as soapy. I personally love the taste!
The uses in Thai Cuisine
Coriander as a plant has been used for many centuries in Thailand and a large part of this appeal is its roots. You can find this ingredient in the fresh section of most Asian-specialist supermarkets, coriander root (also confusingly referred to as Chinese parsley) is the unsung hero of this herb.
While the taste sensations provided by the leaves and stems are well celebrated, there is so much to love about the root. Just a word of advice – Chinese parsley does not impart the same depth of flavour as true coriander, and usually, only the leaves and stems of this plant are utilised.
Coriander root is arguably the most aromatic element of a Thai dish. The scent and taste are considerably stronger than the leaves, which makes the root a perfect spice to be pounded into pastes.
You could include the herb in a soup or broth for a distinctive flavour, It’s this versatility that helps coriander root stand apart – there are not really any alternatives to replicate the experience. Turmeric will provide a vaguely similar spicy aroma, but it’s still a recognizably different ingredient.
The leaves are often used as a garnish with many Thai Dishes such a Tom Yum soup and curries. The seeds are also well utilised in Thai cuisine and are often dried, roasted and then pounded to a powder for seasoning.
This herb can do so much more than its amazing uses in the kitchen, it is also a natural antioxidant and preventing inflammation within the human body, coriander will also keep other foods fresher for longer. Perfect for prolonging the life of any leftovers in your refrigerator!
The root itself can also last for up to two months if stored appropriately, so there is no reason to avoid adding this herb to your pantry. Even better, coriander roots can be frozen for storage, so no need to worry if you do not use the whole bunch in one go.
Coriander is strongly favoured in Thai natural medicine for its health-giving properties. Whilst not ‘scientifically proven’, it is believed to be a valuable asset in the following:
Balancing cholesterol levels Easing digestive problems Regulating blood pressure Assisting in clearing up infections
Try using this versatile herb and spice in your cooking, or make your own homemade curry pastes!
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