Secret Cooking Tip1: Coriander Roots

Secret Cooking Tip1: Coriander roots bring your braising, stew, soup, even pickles to the next level!

Coriander is very widely used in Asian cuisine, especially in Thai and Chinese dish for its refreshing citrusy aroma. (Although there are another group of people find its flavor very unpleasant or taste soapy due to genetic variation in their olfactory receptors.) The whole plant is edible and packed with antioxidants, vitamin C, Provitamin A and K, important minerals including potassium (regulates fluid balance in your body, also helps to process sodium out of your body to lower blood pressure) . It is very good for detoxing and cleansing your body as well. But do you know that coriander roots are actually even better for seasoning food that requires longer cooking process or to be cooked with high temperature? Unlike delicate leaves that wilt quickly and flavor diminishes under heat, the roots will not be cooked down but release a very distinct citrusy, peppery, and slightly earthy flavor, making it an exquisite seasoning substance for Chinese braising, stewing or making soups. If you love Thai food, you probably have noticed coriander roots are an important ingredient to many Thai dish including making curry paste, braised meat, sauce for roasting poultry, or stir-frys.

I added 3 coriander roots into my lu liquid when braising immature soybeans (aka Edmame, its Japanese name), and the result is scrumptious! The roots have been braised for 30 minutes, not yet disintegrated.
How to Use:
  • If you live in Asia, fresh coriander is easy to get either in supermarkets or farmer’s market. If you live in the US or Europe, you can find whole coriander plants in Asian stores or sometimes in farmer’s market as well. Occasionally you can even find packs of frozen coriander roots for sell in Asian supermarkets. Rinse the whole plant thoroughly if the leaves is to be consumed raw. When you chop off leaves for cooking, don’t throw away the roots. Remove small lateral roots from main roots, collect and freeze the roots in deep freezer. So whenever you need, you can take some out from fridge and toss them straight into your braising liquid or soup without unfreezing. Throw some fine sliced (or minced) coriander roots into your stir-fry dish enriches your food with layered flavors. It goes well with meat such as lamb, pork, beef, and seafood, too.
  • You can also eat fresh coriander roots raw if the plant is still young. Clean well, remove lateral roots, pickle main roots for two days in refrigerator with any other pickled vegetable you might have (perfectly with pickled radish or carrots), then it’s ready to serve. The flavor of coriander roots intermingles with other pickled vegetables, instantly upgrading the taste of the whole jar. Young fresh roots can also be sliced and blend into salads such as my Wood Ear Salad with Sichuan dressing. The deep, pungent, aromatic roots match perfectly well with Sichuan style dressing made with red chili oil. Give it a try, you will be totally amazed!

Traveling around the world, I’ve seen how those Chinese take out mislead people’s perception about Chinese food. Wok fried, heavy seasoned with soy sauce and MSG, cornstarch thickened at all time is not authentic Chinese cooking. Real Chinese cuisine is mastering selections of fresh ingredients, seasonings, various cooking methods to deliver genuine taste of food that wow your taste buds. I’m no Michelin chef but someone who knows how authentic Chinese cuisine should taste like. Welcome to my dinning table and enjoy the real Chinese food. Bon appétit!