Cilantro is one of the most widely-eaten herbs in the world. In some parts of the world, it is referred to as the Chinese parsley. Cilantro are the leaves from the coriander plant, they have a unique flavor and taste that is not so easy to duplicate.
Cilantro is very versatile and can be used in a lot of ways. But, in this article, our focus would be on fresh cilantro, not the dried variant or any other thing you have out there.
What does fresh cilantro taste like? The taste of cilantro is very unique and is somewhat related to genetics. To some, the taste and flavor of cilantro are bright and lemony. To others, it is negative and tastes like soap.
Why is there a wide gap between the difference in taste? The answer is in genetics. There is a specific gene in our olfactory lobes that some people have, it makes them sensitive to aldehydes, the organic compounds that give cilantro its well-known odor. If it doesn’t taste like soap to you, cilantro will have a mildly spicy but citrusy flavor. Something similar to parsley.
Many people with these genes that make them sensitive to the odor of cilantro might not like it at all. But over time, their perception can change.
Nutritional Benefits of Fresh Cilantro
Cilantro has a lot of nutritional value to offer the body. It has a good store of vitamins and micronutrients. Fresh cilantro contains antioxidants like quercetin, tocopherols, and terpinene. These antioxidants have been known to reduce inflammation in the body and have immune-boosting properties. They can also help prevent the formation of certain kinds of cancer cells in the body and they do what all antioxidants do; relieve oxidative stress and protect cells in the body from free radical damage.
Fresh cilantro might help lower blood sugar levels. It can help keep high blood sugar levels in check especially in type-2 diabetes patients. Fresh cilantro does this by promoting the enzyme activity that helps remove sugar from the blood. It is so powerful that people with low blood sugar should probably steer clear of it.
Cilantro can also be responsible for reducing LDL (bad cholesterol levels) in the body and promoting heart health. It can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases by keeping the arteries clear and free of fat that can clog them up. It can also help to keep blood pressure low and at the normal level.
Fresh cilantro possesses anti-microbial properties, meaning that it can help fight infection caused by bacteria and take care of some foodborne illnesses. Cilantro can also be responsible for keeping the skin healthy and protect it from the aging effects of the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
Culinary Uses of Fresh Cilantro
Fresh Cilantro can be used in several forms and manners, the first thing that will pop up in your mind is to probably use it as a garnish. But, it goes beyond all of that, you can use it raw or cooked. The heat diminishes the flavor of fresh cilantro. So, if you are going to add it to a cooked dish, you should add it when you are almost done with the cooking.
Fresh Cilantro can be used in pestos or pureed and incorporated into dips and sauces. It can also add flavor to salads, salsa, chutney, and dressings.
Cilantro pairs well with a lot of dishes and food items. You can pair it with chicken, fish, lamb, avocado, peppers, rice, pork, mayonnaise, tomatoes, yogurt, beans, cheese, lentils, eggs, and even seafood like shellfish. Fresh cilantro can be used in all of these foods regardless of the wide flavor spectrum that you have there.
Fresh cilantro can be used in American, Mexican, and Indian cuisines. It is very much sought after in Thai curries and Chinese dishes as well.
Where is Fresh Cilantro Grown? How to Procure It?
Fresh cilantro is regarded as the leaves of the coriander plant. Records of it being used can be traced as far back as 5000 BCE, the Romans used it to flavor bread. Back then, it was also used as an aromatic and as a carminative.
In recent times, the modern use of cilantro in medication is to use it to mask the unpleasant taste and odor of drugs.
Fresh cilantro is mostly used in Chinese, Latin American, and Indian cuisines. It is native to the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions but is cultivated in many parts of the world for its culinary use.
It can be procured from farmers’ markets, or in the wild if you know where to get it from. The dried form is what many grocery stores have in stock because it is easier to store. But you just might find some frozen fresh cilantro in some stores.
What Percentage of The Population Thinks Fresh Cilantro Tastes Like Soap?
That number is about 4 to 14 percent of the population. Many people hate cilantro because to them it smells like soap. It even has a soap aftertaste. The reason for this is genetic and has been explained when we talked about what cilantro tastes like. How cilantro tastes or smells to you has a lot to do with your genes.
Fact You Don’t Know About Fresh Cilantro
- If you want to get rid of that soapy aftertaste that you get from fresh cilantro, you can crush, mince, or pulverise the leaves first. This makes the aldehydes present breakdown, giving them less potency, therefore, reducing that soapy feeling that you detest.