Now is about that time of year when cilantro, coriander or wansoy starts to disappear from markets. In an infuriatingly seasonal vanishing act, the heavy rains and temperatures seem to wipe out locally grown cilantro like a plague. God forbid you should have a Vietnamese, Thai, Cambodian, North African or Mexican restaurant, and you need the distinctive taste of this extremely popular herb that is truly global in reach. This pungent green is an essential flavoring for so many dishes on so many different continents. Of course, I have frequently wondered out loud why folks don’t grow cilantro in greenhouses during the rainy season and reap the benefits of 3-4x its regular pricing…but I am not a farmer. So enter sawtooth coriander or otherwise known as culantro or pak chii farang — here’s an old post from 2008 if you are curious.
Gejo of Malipayon farms still has it on his line up of available herbs today. And this very healthy looking plant that I bought roughly a year ago has miraculously remained alive in our small backyard herb patch, and it has sent off many new shoots/plants. You can substitute this herb for cilantro in most dishes, but it is particularly nice in spicy and herbaceous Asian soups like a tom yum or similar type of dish.