Coriander Magic

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This week WHB returns home to Kalyn´s Kitchen. Kalyn is passionate about coriander (cilantro) so today I am going to seduce her with coriander, from the roots to the leaves. 😉 Coriander is such a popular herb that you can find its presence in various cuisines from Southeast Asia, Central Asia to South America etc. It can be used fresh to garnish, adding flavours to stock, curry paste etc. Furthermore, coriander fruits, known as coriander seeds, are also used extensively. With their versatile usage, last year, bloggers have chosen coriander as their most favourite herb. However, recently I have discovered a funny movement calling coriander to be banned. That is a real puzzle for me since coriander is not at all a hard-to-eat herb. Well, I guess people do have different taste in food!

For this week WHB, I will use coriander as the main theme. The dish I cooked up presents very well the use of coriander in Southeast Asia. Here fresh coriander, including the root, is used to make spice paste. A lot of Asian dishes also require coriander roots to flavour stock/broth. That´s why coriander is normally sold without the root. In the Asian fresh market that I visit frequently, you have to pay extra to buy a bundle with the long root intact (pic). Now, who can say the root is worthless?

The paste presented, Pepper, Garlic & Coriander Paste, is simple yet very aromatic. The recipe is from Charmaine Solomon, a food writer who is well-known for her knowledge about Asian cuisine. The quantity given here yields about 1 cup, which can be kept in the fridge for about 3 months. I normally have one jar ready which I can use to marinade meat, toss through salad or steamed vegetable. One point though, you do need to roast and pound your own black pepper. Do not use the ground product, which has lost most of the strong fiery taste. I have used this paste to marinade and grill some chicken, which is very aromatic and flavoursome. Highly recommended if you love the herby and refreshing flavour of Thai food.

For those who may wonder about the plant I used to present the chicken in the photo. It is a lovely Vietnamese herb used commonly in southern cooking. I will feature this herb soon when I can get some other ingredients. But for this week WHB, the glory belongs to coriander!

Pepper, Garlic & Coriander Paste

Ingredients (for 1 cup)

200g fresh coriander with leaves, stems and roots (about two bunches)

1 tablespoon garlic, chopped

2 tsp sea salt

1-2 tbsp whole black peppercorns

2 tbsp lime/lemon juice


Wash the coriander carefully, especially the root. Chop coarsely

Crush garlic with salt to a smooth paste.

Roast the peppercorns in a frying pan until fragrant. Crush coarsely. Add coriander and pound or process in a food processor until become a paste. Mix in garlic & lemon/lime juice.

Store in clean jar in the fridge for three months.


Grilled Chicken with Pepper, Garlic & Coriander

Marinade the chicken pieces with the paste above. For 6 thigh or breast fillets or 1.5 kg whole chicken, use about 3 tablespoons of paste and some oil (I also added a little bit of fish sauce to enhance the flavour). If using whole chicken, make swallow slits in breast and thigh. Marinade for 1 hour or overnight.

You can barbeque or grill the chicken. Serve with salad, rice, noodle or even slices of bread.


12 Responses to Coriander Magic

  1. Lydia says:

    I am one of those people who can’t take the taste of cilantro, though I do use ground coriander quite a bit in cooking. This coriander and pepper paste does sound like it would be a delicious marinade, though.

  2. Kalyn says:

    This sounds just wonderful to me. I have heard that the roots were used a lot in Asian cooking, but I didn’t know that it might be more expensive to get a plant with the roots attached. Very interesting. This is a recipe I must keep, it’s going to my cookbook right now.

  3. Asha says:

    You know how passionately Indians are in love with cilantro!!;D

  4. Gattina says:

    I love coriander (but my sisters hate it though), I really want to plant it in my yard, however, had failed a few times… Anh, I will definitely make your coriander paste!

  5. joey says:

    I love cilantro! I have friends who can’t take its smell, much less its taste, but I totally love this herb! :) That paste sounds delicious and versitile…can it be frozen?

  6. Melting Wok says:

    I haven’t seen any with the roots here in So Cal :( Can’t go wrong with cilantros in anything..oo, magic it is :)

  7. Anh says:

    Lydia, my sister never takes coriander so I understand. But the strong taste of “raw” coriander did go away in the grilled chicken though. :)

  8. Helene says:

    Never came across coriander with its roots. Think I have to plant them in my garden. Thanks for making me a bit wiser. :)

  9. Precious Moments says:

    yum yum, i love coriander and guess what Gattina, I am experimenting whether I can plant this in my garden. Wish me luck.

  10. Susan says:

    Anh, you really have a gift for food styling. These pictures are gorgeous! And I love the title “Coriander Magic,” as its taste is so vibrant. Delicious!

  11. sher says:

    I too adore coriander in any form–whether fresh or in seeds. Your photos are gorgeous, loved seeing the cilantro with the roots attached. I keep meaning to grow my own.

  12. kitchen hand says:

    The worst thing about coriander is that it is harder to grow than other herbs. Otherwise I would grow and eat it all year round. I always keep the roots when I buy a bunch. I use every speck of it. That anti-cilantro thing looks like a spoof. Surely they can’t be serious.

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