Thursday, September 17, 2009

Coriander, Cilantro, Yuen sai

My Coriander patch

One plant I can't live without is Coriander. There is no comparison between the store bought kind and the home grown variety. Home grown Coriander has large shiny leaves and a stronger taste. However it is really at its best during the cool months. As soon as the weather warms up it bolts to seed. Usually I leave the plants to dry up and then scatter the brown seed around so that it grows back by its own accord. I have grown the 'slow to bolt' variety but this still behaves in the same way and starts to flower in a matter of weeks during summer.The solution in summer is to grow Saw Tooth Coriander, Eryngium foetidum, so called Thai coriander which has the same taste and withstands cooking without any loss of flavour. This plant is native to Central and South America but has become naturalised in parts of Asia . In Thailand it is known as phak chee farang and in Vietnam as ngo gai. Leaves are often sold in bundles in Asian grocery stores. Like other members of the genus Eryngium this species produces lots of very prickly flower heads which are best kept cut off to encourage more leaf production. I sow seed during late autumn and young plants are usually ready for planting out now . It is interesting that the name coriander is derived from the Greek word koris which means bug, alluding to the stink bug smell of the crushed leaves.

Eryngium foetidum, Saw Tooth Coriander

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