Cilantro: Cheap Chic
What is that piercing, metallic taste that seems to be in everything these days? The answer, in case you’ve fallen behind on current cooking trends, is cilantro--an herb that used to show up only in Chinese chicken salad and fresh Mexican salsa but now adds bite to everything from cold pasta to nouvelle sauces for fish.
Cilantro, which is also called coriander, is one of those tastes that people either love or hate. And, if you hate it, too bad, because you’re going to have a hard time avoiding it. “We’ve been using a lot more of it,” says Lorraine Gish, general manager of the French cafe La Frite in Sherman Oaks. “In fact, we just got four bunches in this morning.”
Enough Valley residents like cilantro, though, to have made it the second-best-selling herb at Gelson’s Market in Encino. (No. 1 is basil, but pesto has been popular a long time.) “People are more aware of it,” says produce manager Shig Otani. “They seem to be asking for it, and they know how they want to use it.”
Generally priced at less than 60 cents a bunch, cilantro is one of the cheapest fresh herbs you can buy. Only parsley costs less. But growing your own cilantro is easy, and the frilly-leafed herb makes a pretty annual plant. Don’t forget that, in the cutthroat world of trendy cuisine, the herb picked fresh from the garden always gets extra points.