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Feb 4, 2011 10:31 AM

substitute for cilantro

DH hates cilantro, says it tastes like soap. I've read that you can substitute Italian flat leaf parsley for cilantro but I'm seeing more and more recipes that call for cilantro where the cilantro seems to be the main flavoring ingredient/herb. Any suggestions for a substitute that gives the dishes more character than just plain parsley?

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  1. I think it depends on what the dish is. I love cilantro but I see how people think it is soapy. If it is an Asian dish, maybe sub mint. Also, sometimes people who don't like cilantro don't mind it in combo--I make a pesto with cilantro/mint/basil and everyone loves it--even people who don't like it by itself.

    1. I don't think there's any real substitute. Culantro is a little harder to find, but you may try that-- see if DH can deal with it.

      Otherwise I'd probably say basil. Or maybe fresh mint. But they're definitely not the same as fresh cilantro.

      1. What kind of character do you want?

        Parsley is widely used in Spanish cooking, but using it will give your dish a Spanish character, not a Mexican one. Similarly using basil in a tomato 'salsa' might give it an Italian character, more like a crostini topping than a chip dip.

        1. For Asian, depending on the dish, I would use a combo of mint and basil. For Mexican, there really isn't a substitute. Parsley would work for color, but not flavor. I would be more likely to omit it. Maybe substitute finely chopped poblano for a different flavor profile, or minced green onion. again it depends on the dish.

          2 Replies
          1. re: cocktailhour

            Completely agree--basil or mint if it's Asian, and the dish will still be very tasty, but there's no subsitute for cilantro in Mexican food. Parsley is a terrible idea--I bet whoever thought of that didn't think beyond the appearance.

            1. re: cocktailhour

              +1 for mint & basil. Not a substitute, exactly, but the flavor will be in the geographic ballpark. I would use Thai basil.

            2. Rau Ram and Culantro AKA Thorny Coriander, , Saw-leaf Herb or Saw-tooth Herb are probable the closest in flavor to Cilantro.