Culantro - Sawtooth Herb
[Long Coriander; Ngo Gai (Viet); Phak Chi Farang (Thai); Ji Ana (Khmer); Cilantro Mexicano, Cilantro Habanero (Mexico); Alcapata (Guatemala, El Salvador); Amazonian Chicory, Coentro-bravo, Coentro-largo (Brazil); Recao (Puerto Rico); Bhandhanya (Hindi); Eryngium foetidum]
This herb is native to Mexico, Central and South America, but is now grown worldwide. As a culinary herb it is most important in Southeast Asia, the far northeast of India, and the Caribbean. It is sometimes described as tasting like Cilantro, but stronger. I find the resemblance detectable, but not close. Unlike Cilantro, it takes well to drying, holding both color and flavor.
The photo specimens are up to 9-1/4 inches long and 1-1/2 inches wide, but it can get up to at least 14 inches long and 2 inches wide.
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In Vietnam this is a favorite herb for tearing up and adding to Pho Beef Noodle Soup.
Buying & Storing: This herb can be found fresh in markets serving Southeast Asian communities, so is quite common here in Los Angeles. It is also found in markets serving Caribbean communities. The photo specimens were purchased from a large Asian market in Los Angeles (San Gabriel) for $5.99 / pound, put up in foam trays holding about 5 ounces. It is quite perishable and should be used within a few days.
Subst: Cilantro is the usual substitute, but it must be used fresh, never dried, and it is not as strong.