It does have a similar flavor and scent.
Close your nose, though, and from its appearance, you would never confuse the two plants.
In the same family as cilantro, Apiacaea, culantro looks a lot more like its cousin, parsley, but with a distinct difference–culantro has thistle-like spikes which appear on the terminal flower shoots once it bolts. Ouch.
It’s worth dealing with the spikes, though, if you’re a cilantro lover like me.
Stronger than cilantro, it only takes a pinch to get that oddly addictive aroma/flavor into a dish of salsa or beans or huevos rancheros. And, unlike cilantro, culantro retains more of it’s oomph when dried.
Medicinally, culantro leaves and roots are used for fever and intestinal complaints, as well as as an anticonvulsant.
Years ago, I tried growing culantro from seeds, with no success. It was probably user error. This time, I saw Burpee had plants for sale through their catalog, and I snatched up a trio. I’m hoping they will self-seed for next year, but just in case I’ll save some seeds, as I don’t expect the tender perennial plants to live through the frosts and freezes without protection. In the meantime, I’ve been enjoying it in my kitchen.
I put some in this salsa the other day, just a pinch, and it was delicious.
It’s also a common ingredient in sofrito, a spicy seasoning paste common in Caribbean/Puerto Rican cuisine, also known as recaito (recipe).
You may know culantro by another name, as it seems to be common in many cultures. Have you ever heard of it? What do you call it and how do you use it in your neck of the woods? I’d love to know.
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