Cilantro is one of the most medically beneficial herbs in the culinary universe. It adds sensational flavor to soups, salads, curries, sauces, stews, and other dishes. It also contains properties that help with anticancer, skin health, antifungal properties, and painful inflammation, and much more.
Fresh Cilantro also contains sativim seed oil, recommended as a highly effective natural food preservative. It also contains vitamin C, potassium folate, and manganese which are important nutrients in the body.
Not only that, there is the fresh flavor and texture maintenance it adds to your dishes too. Its tender and delicate leaves ensure sweet flavor when added to dishes or beverages. Its versatility gives it an edge over other herbs, making it a delicious addition to any recipe.
However, Cilantro is grown commercially, mostly in California. As that isn’t enough for the whole population, America imports it and other herbs in large quantities. This means there is a risk of contamination. Also, many people don’t like its savory flavor, and some have described it as having a soapy taste. For this reason, finding a substitute becomes important.
What is Fresh Cilantro?
Fresh Cilantro is a round, flat green culinary herb, and it is a variety of the parsley family, predominant in Asian and Caribbean cuisines. It is a very controversial herb, with different people having a different view on the cool-weather herb.
Cilantro naturally contains a sweet-smelling compound called aldehyde; this compound is often added to soaps for fragrance; perhaps that’s why many compare it to soap. Nonetheless, it can’t be denied that it adds a sweet, strong flavor to various dishes, despite the divisiveness.
It is also used as a garnish by chopping it, spreading it over your food, and considering its delicate structure. It is also preferred raw. Also, it is vital to note that fresh Cilantro doesn’t last for too long before it wilts and changes color. Therefore, it is advised not to wash them before storing them but right before use, of course.
Fresh Cilantro Uses in Recipes
If you fancy its sweet, strong, and intense flavor and your olfactory receptors do not interpret it as ‘soapy,’ there are endless options of dishes and cuisines you can enjoy it with. Spicy dishes, garnishment, condiments, raw, and lots more; there is no limit to how you can use it.
It goes so well with salad, olive, avocado, or sprinkling on sardines as garnishment. Below are some recipes to incorporate fresh Cilantro into your daily diet, and you’re going to enjoy the strong flavor and pleasant taste.
- Bacon fried rice
- Classic Guacamole
- Coconut Chutney
- Green chill grits
- Bread and Garlic soup
- Sprouted Chickpeas
- Steamed Banana wrapped Fish
- Yogurt Chutney
- Grape Salsa
- Moroccan Charmoula
- Grapefruit juice
- Spinach and Walnut Salad
- Avocado Mashed Potatoes
- Grilled lobster
- Watermelon Salad
- Lemongrass Salad
Fresh Cilantro Substitute
As good and healthy as a herb as Cilantro is, many people do not like the taste and the flavor – individual differences in genetic olfactory receptors and all that. If you fall in this category, do not fret. There are other healthy culinary herbs with similar properties and health benefits.
Suppose you also fear the risk of contamination in imported goods, or perhaps you have allergies or sensitivity to Cilantro. In that case, you can also check out some of these substitutes that would garnish your dishes with the sweet-smelling favor and add a great taste to your meal.
Parsley is a bright green culinary herb that happens to be in the same family as Cilantro, which makes it a good substitute. Not only that, they are similar in appearance and texture, although parsley is slightly bitter than fresh Cilantro. The flavor notes it brings to your dishes and salad dressings are not too dissimilar, and most importantly, you’d be avoiding the ‘soapy’ taste that makes Cilantro divisive and controversial.
You should note that the citrus taste in Cilantro is absent in parsley, so if you like the taste and can’t do without it, you should consider adding a bit of lemon juice to the parsley to upgrade, tone, and elevate the taste of your dishes to what you desire.
If you’ve used basil before in your dishes, you would well know that it has a different flavor to Cilantro, so in some dishes, the use of basil in place of Cilantro will change the flavor. However, basil has varieties, and the best form to be substituted for Cilantro is Thai basil.
Thai basil has a distinctive taste, spicy and licorice-flavored. It works well as a replacement in certain dishes like curries, chutneys, mashed potatoes, etc. Also, just like Cilantro, basil can be used as a garnish as well in the same way – chopping it and sprinkling it on your dish. This would preserve the bright look and sweet flavor.
This can be experimental but doesn’t make it less effective, especially if you’re looking to replace the exact flavor of Cilantro. The mixture of several other culinary herbs such as parsley, tarragon, dill, parsley, thyme, etc., can be a perfect substitute. They complement each other so well and have nutritional benefits as well.
Also, note that you should be careful of the quantity when using this. For example, the herbs have their flavors, and you don’t want them to come out too strong and intense in your dish. However, a very small amount of herbs will give you a perfect outcome.
The possibilities of copying and recreating the taste of Cilantro are endless, and topping that list would be the dried version of the herb. The flavor is milder than the fresh form, so you’d best use half the amount you’d use if it were fresh. It is also an excellent replacement for the complainants of the soapy taste in fresh Cilantro. In its dried form, it is milder, and you feel it less.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I use mint instead of Cilantro?
Fresh mint leaves are also a good replacement for Cilantro. However, you would have to use half the amount. Also, not forgetting the chilly flavor of mint leaves, you might have to add a small amount of vinegar to curb that.
Is Cilantro the same as coriander?
No. Although they both come from the same plant, they have different tastes and uses. Cilantro is the leaves and stems of the coriander plant.
What else can I use if I don’t have Cilantro?
Fresh Cilantro goes well with so many dishes and has a lot of health benefits. Still, due to variation in the genetics of olfactory receptors, different people report different tase of the same herb. If, for that reason, you don’t like Cilantro, or you’re simply out of it. The replacement list is endless, and you can choose anyone you have or feel comfortable with as substitutes.