Frankly, President Donald Trump has nothing on the world’s most polarizing food: cilantro. The small, leafy herb, also known as coriander, is most commonly served in either plant or dried seed form in various Asian and Mexican cuisines. But why do some welcome parsley’s cousin with open arms while others loathe its “soapy” taste? The answer, like with most things in life, can be attributed to basic science.
What is cilantro?
An herb whose leaves, stems, and seeds are all edible. They can’t be used interchangeably, though. Leaves and stems hold the most bitterness, while its dried seeds are typically more subtle and earthy in flavor.
Where is cilantro grown?
It’s quite easy to grow cilantro in most environments (something to think about if you’re expanding your potted plant collection), but it is native to southern Europe, northern Africa, and southwest Asia.
What type of cuisine is cilantro featured in?
Mexican salsas and guacamoles, but also quite heavily in Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese meals as either a garnish or part of a salad, chutney, or noodle dish.
Why do some of us hate cilantro?
“How cilantro tastes to you has a lot to do with your genes,” says YouTube SciShow’s Hank Green in an informative video. Studies have shown that up to 14 percent of our population carries olfactory-receptor genes that sense the smell of aldehyde chemicals. These chemicals, found in cilantro, also happen to be in that Dove bar of soap sitting in your shower. Because most of your taste is actually derived from smell, the association between the two can be extremely off-putting. You can thank your ancestors for this picky palate.
Whether you love it or hate it (and can’t help it either way), here are seven recipes that highlight cilantro:
1. Salmon Chowder with Cilantro Pesto
The boldness of cilantro makes an excellent counterpart to mild and delicate fish like salmon and halibut. Cilantro in pesto form also celebrates the herb’s depth of flavor with the simple additions of lemon juice, salt, and olive oil. Get our Salmon Chowder with Cilantro Pesto recipe.
2. Chile-Cilantro Hash Browns
If you’re looking for another breakfast zinger to join your morning coffee routine, look no further than these spicy cilantro hash browns. Your scrambled eggs will thank you. Get our Chile-Cilantro Hash Browns recipe.
3. Jalapeño-Cilantro Yogurt Spread
Life’s all about balance and nothing tones down the spiciness and bitterness of jalapeño and cilantro better than plain Greek yogurt. We consulted Apollo and he agreed. Get our Jalapeño-Cilantro Yogurt Spread recipe.
4. Romaine and Watercress Salad with Cilantro
It’s greens on greens on greens with this refreshing salad recipe that highlights the absolute best of Mother Nature. At the very least, you’ll make your co-workers jealous during lunchtime. Get our Romaine and Watercress Salad with Cilantro recipe.
5. Asian Beef Burgers with Ginger and Cilantro
Beef burgers aren’t necessarily “Asian,” but the ingredients in this dish show how well cilantro pairs with traditional Asian flavors. And you don’t have to master chopsticks to enjoy it. Get our Asian Beef Burgers with Ginger and Cilantro recipe.
6. Easy Shrimp Pho
Those in Vietnam don’t pho around when it comes to their pho. It is traditionally topped with a mound of cilantro, which is exactly what you should do after cooking this surprisingly easy noodle entree. Get our Easy Shrimp Pho recipe.
7. Easy Guacamole
You’ve had it before and you know it’s delicious. Make it now. And never share. Get our Easy Guacamole recipe.