Cilantro is also known by many names like culantro, coriander and even Chinese parsley. Although it didn’t originate in Mexico, it has grown such strong roots in its cuisine, to the point that its hard to think about Mexican cooking without it.
It has delicate, paper thin leaves and tender stems. Its deep green color tends to be shinny too.
It is used for countless foods including being a key ingredients of many salsas, guacamoles and pico de gallo. It is used to flavor beans, rice, salads, stews amongst some dishes. It is even placed frequently on the table in a bowl, just as an optional garnish for tacos, antojos and soups. In the last couple decades it has even become quite popular for smoothies and juices.
Cilantro has a distinct, strong and pungent flavor. Most people tend to like it. However, the few that don’t, tend to feel so strongly about it: they can’t stand it. Those I have asked about their dislike, usually say that it was since they can remember. A couple have referred to a detergent taste (see I was listening to you Ceci…). But most people that like cilantro, don’t recognize those flavors… So it just might be in the genes…
I am part of the group that really likes it. But I try to use it judiciously. A couple sprigs are usually all it takes to add what cilantro can bring.