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Cilantro roots have a pure white central tap root that is covered in small hair-like rootlets which are typically are darker shade of tan. They have an aromatic, somewhat bitter flavor that is far less subtle than the more commonly used leaves. They possess a deep, earthy flavor with hints of lemon and spice. Their woody texture and sharp flavor softens with cooking and even develops a mild sweetness.
Cilantro roots are available year-round.
Cilantro, commonly called Coriander or Chinese parsley, is botanically known as Coriandrum sativum. It is an herbaceous annual in the family Apiaceae. While the leaves, seeds and flowers are often seen in cuisines around the world, the roots are rarely used outside of Thailand. There, they are used to give a rich cilantro-like flavor to broths and sauces. Cilantro’s unique flavor is adored by some yet despised by others. Aldehydes within the plant are similar to those found in some lotions and soaps, giving credit to the claims of the herb’s “soapy” character.
Cilantro root is has natural antibiotic qualities.
Cilantro root is usually cooked and rarely eaten raw because of its coarse and chewy texture. It is best in applications involving a long gradual cooking process, such as the broths and stocks used in Thai cooking. It can stand up to long simmering times and high temperatures in ways that the delicate leaves cannot. The root's strong taste is tempered when slowly rendered with garlic, salt and Thai peppercorns. Cilantro roots pair well with ingredients such as carrots, onion, tomato paste, coconut milk, citrus, ginger, lemongrass, chile peppers, chicken, lamb and goat.
The leaves of Cilantro are widely used throughout Asia, India, North Africa and in Latin America where it is an integral ingredient in fresh salsas and sauces. Cilantro root is used mainly in Asia where it is one of the four main components of Thai seasoning pastes, along with garlic, salt and Thai peppercorns. It is essential to making an authentic Thai curry.
Cilantro is native to Southwest Asia and North Africa. Today it is cultivated in herb gardens around the world, but prefers climates with cool dry summers. It thrives in well drained soils with full sun to partial afternoon shade. It is a quick growing herb that is prone to bolting, and it quickly develops substantial root structures for a year-round harvest.