Undoubtedly one of the most tedious parts of cooking is the preparation stage. With some ingredients, the preparation isn’t too bad, but with others it can be incredibly frustrating. Especially if you haven’t encountered one of the ingredients before. Even with ingredients that are used regularly, it can be difficult to recall exactly how to prepare it for cooking.
Today, we’re taking a look at how to chop cilantro. Cilantro is a herb that is commonly used in lots of different cuisines because it gives food an extra dimension. But, despite the fact that it is used in a lot of different dishes, many people still do not know how to prepare cilantro ready for cooking.
In this guide, we’re taking a look at how you clean, prepare, and, most importantly, chop cilantro ready to use it in a recipe. So, if you want to find out how, then keep on reading.
What is Cilantro?
Before we go any further, let’s quickly establish what cilantro is. This is very important as cilantro is one of the few vegetables/herbs that is actually known by multiple different names. So, if you encounter coriander, Chinese parsley, or Pak Chee, it is important that you know that these are all the same as cilantro. So, they will all be prepared in the exact same way.
In terms of appearance, cilantro looks a little like parsley (hence why it is often known as Chinese parsley), but this doesn’t mean that it is prepared in the same way. Cilantro is its own herb, and so it must be prepared in its own unique way. So, let’s take a look at how you do this.
How to Clean Cilantro
As you probably already know, one of the most important parts of preparing any fruit, vegetable, or herb, is cleaning it. These plants grow outdoors, so they are exposed to lots of different insects and dirt. This is why it is very important to wash the cilantro before you use it in a meal.
To wash your cilantro, you should begin by filling a medium-sized bowl with cold water. You should then take your fresh cilantro and submerge it in the bowl.
Using your fingers, you should twirl the cilantro around in the water to ensure that every section of the plant is covered in water. You should then leave the cilantro to soak for 10 minutes, as this will loosen any dirt and ensure it comes away from the leaves of the herb.
You should then transfer the cilantro into a colander, and give it another rinse with some fresh, cold water. This will rinse away any of the dirt particles that were loosened in the last step, and ensure that your cilantro is fresh and clean.
Finally, you should shake the colander to remove as much water as possible from the cilantro, before patting it dry with paper towels. Ready for the next step.
How to Prepare Cilantro
Once you have dried your cilantro, it is then time to prepare it ready for chopping. Even though cilantro is bought fresh, this plant has a very short shelf life. So, within days of buying it, you will likely find that the leaves of your cilantro have begun to welt and shrivel up. So, before you chop your cilantro, you need to ensure that there are no dead leaves on the plant.
You should do this by taking a long, hard look at the cilantro. Decomposing leaves will be easy to notice as they will be discolored and wilted – in short, they will not look healthy. If you do find any of these leaves, you should pluck them from the bundle of cilantro and discard them in your usual way.
Once you are sure that you only have green, healthy leaves left, then you can move on to the stems. You will likely not use all the cilantro stems in your recipe, and depending on the taste and texture that you desire, you might deliberately exclude some stems.
So, decide the amount of stems that you want to use in your recipe, and chop off the amount that you do not want to use. Again, discard them in your usual way. Once that is done, you can then move on to chopping your cilantro.
How to Chop Cilantro
Finally, once you have done all the cleaning and preparation, you are ready to chop your cilantro. You should begin doing this by chopping the bundle of fresh cilantro in half. This is because most of the leaves are located in the center of the plant, so splitting in half ensures that you can use some cilantro now, and the rest in the future.
Set the cilantro that you don’t want to use aside, and place it in a zip lock bag. You can then put it in the refrigerator, and it should be okay to use within the next 3 days. Once this is done, you can then focus your attention on the cilantro that is left on your chopping board.
Before you start chopping, you will need to decide how thick you want to chop your cilantro. Of all the herbs, cilantro is one of the most tender, so you don’t really need to chop it up that small.
However, the thickness that you should chop it to will depend on when it is being added to the recipe. If you are adding it early on, then a thick cut is fine, but if you are adding it later on, you should chop it finer.
After you have decided on your thickness, simply fold the bunch of cilantro leaves in half, and then begin chopping. It is best to do this by holding the bunch in your hand, and using a rocking motion with the knife. Repeat until the cilantro is at your desired thickness, then set it aside until you need to use it in your recipe.
In short, this has been a complete guide to how to chop cilantro, including how to clean and prepare it. So, if you need to prepare cilantro for a recipe, but don’t know how to, then you are in the right place.