(Eryngium foetidum) – Biennial
Culantro is a flavorful herb used in caribbean cooking. Puerto Rico uses it extensively in all kinds of stews, soups, beans, asopao, etc. It is a more flavorful substitute for Cilantro for all your culinary creations. Another name for this herb in Puerto Rico is RECAO. In Asia it is also known as Long Coriander. Culantro is also known as: ngo-gai, spirit weed, long coriander, false coriander, black benny, recao de monte, Mexican coriander, and well over 65 more names in different parts of the world.
Culantro (recao) is an important ingredient in Puerto Rican cooking. The leaves are chopped and added as a spice to most stews and soups. Many people in Puerto Rico have some culantro plants in their homes, potted or planted on the ground. If you plant the seeds on the ground or a wide container, the plants will continue to reproduce for an almost endless supply.
Culantro is also utilized throughout the Caribbean as a folk remedy for several ailments. The plant is used in traditional medicines for fevers and chills, vomiting, diarrhea and in Jamaica for colds and convulsions in children. The leaves and roots are boiled and the water drunk for pneumonia, flu, diabetes, constipation, and malaria fever. The root can be eaten raw for scorpion stings and in India the root is reportedly used to alleviate stomach pains. The leaves themselves can be eaten in the form of chutney as an appetite stimulant.
This tough, hot weather plant is used when hot steamy weather makes growing the other cilantro difficult. Long spiny leaves should be sliced and chopped. Mix leaves with cream cheese or sour cream, a little chopped onion, season to taste for a great veggie dip. Garnish black bean soup with chopped leaves, top tacos with chopped leaves; add to your favorite stir fry recipe. Create your own marinade with olive oil, lime juice, a chopped chili, salt, chopped culantro leaves, and minced garlic or onion. Use for chicken or beef kabobs or baste over fish. These hardy leaves dry and freeze well. They retain their flavor even after extended cooking.