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Saturday, June 2, 2018

Coriandre - Coriander, the Herb. Coriander and Cilantro are Different Names for the Same Herb.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan Newman
Coriander, Cilantro.
Coriander or Cilantro is the lemon-lime scented, light-green herb whose leaves have a close resemblance to flat parsley and chervil.
Coriander originated in the Mediterranean region and was on Egyptian, Greek, and Roman menus long before it was first seen in French cuisine. In France coriander is mostly seen with fish and shellfish dishes where the leaves are used sparingly. Coriander’s leaves have a taste that is refreshing and fresh coriander is available all-year round,  Coriander seeds with their sweet musky and lemon scent can be overwhelming and too intense for most French palates.  Nevertheless, coriander including the seeds will be flavoring curries in France's French-Créole Antillaise and Reunionese Cuisine.
Coriander and cilantro

While traveling, I have seen the words coriander and cilantro on different menus and I quickly learned that usage depends on where you are. The word cilantro is the Spanish name for coriander. Some countries used one name for the leaves, and another for the seeds and in others confusion reigns. The French name Persil Arab, Arabian parsley, is also used for coriander, but the name Persil Chinois, Chinese parsley, sometimes seen in French markets is a close family member mostly used in Asian cuisine.

Dried coriander seeds.

Coriander on French Menus:

Brochette d'Agneau Haché aux Oignons, Poivrons Verts, Coriandre et Épices - Skewers of minced lamb grilled or fried with onions, green peppers, and spices.  A brochette may be a grilled or fried skewer of meat or fish and is not to be confused with a brochet which is a pike, the freshwater fish.
Calmars Frits au Parmesan et Panko Sauce Tomate, Mayonnaise Lime et CoriandreCalamari, squid, fried with a Parmesan cheese and panko breadcrumb tomato sauce accented with lime mayonnaise and coriander.

Caviar d'Aubergines et Sardines de La Turballe et Coriandre Fraîche – Eggplant, aubergine, caviar served with fresh sardines from the Atlantic fishing port of La Turballe flavored with fresh coriander. Eggplant caviar is a part of many French dishes; one of the most popular being Papeton d'Aubergine.

French culinary tradition includes the terroir of the sea where one particular part of the ocean is thought to provide particularly tasty fish.  La Turballe is in the region of the Pays de Loire and its sandy beaches are just one hour's drive from the City of Nantes.

Strawberry gazpacho flavored with coriander.

Cuisses de Grenouilles Frits Ail, Citron, Coriandre Frog’s legs fried with garlic, lemon and coriander.

Tartare de Dorade au Gingembre et Coriandre Fraîche - A tartar of gilthead seabream, (one of a number of fish with dorade as part of their French name), accented with ginger and fresh coriander.  Caveat emptor - Check with the server which dorade is on the menu.  The possibilities include Dorade Rose - Red BreamDorade or Dorade Royal - Gilthead or Gilthead Sea Bream; Daurade Rose - Bluespotted Seabream or the Dorade Coryphène – the Pompano Dolphin Fish.  (The dolphin fish is a real fish and in no way related to real dolphins which are mammals),

Thon Cru, Mariné à l'Huile d'Olive et au Citron Vert, Petits Oignons et Coriandre – Fresh tuna marinated in olive oil and lime along with small onions and coriander.


The active ingredients in Coriander’s leaves and seeds are different, and that explains their different tastes. Some Asian cuisines roast the seeds before grinding them and adding flavor to curries.Coriander roots may also be flavoring Asian dishes.

Coriander roots used in Asian cuisine.

In France, coriander may be offered as a tisane, a herbal tea, accredited with pain-relieving properties and used for headaches, muscle pain, stiffness, and arthritis.

Coriander, cilantro, in the languages of France's neighbors:

(Catalan  - celiàndria, coriandre ), (Dutch -  ketoembar, koriander ), (German – coriander), (Italian – coriandolo), (Spanish – cilantro),.  (Latin - coriandrum sativum).

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Bryan G. Newman

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