How to use coriander roots

It’s Saturday night. It’s the first ‘come-over-and-I-will-cook-you-dinner’ date with that guy you are ‘kinda’ seeing. So you are whipping out the big guns. Shit is getting real. You are trying out that Thai dish you’ve had saved from a Donna Hay mag 3 years back. It’s a spesh occasion. I get it.  But what I don’t get is why many of us when we get all adventurous and cook Thai, Vietnamese or Indian (pretty much 3 of the most amazing cuisine’s) we get all lost and confused with CORRIANDER!! Or cilantro, but I am Aussie!!
By lost and confused, I mean we get stuck not knowing how to wash it, prepare it and store it correctly. But the mammoth question is.......


“Doesn’t everyone just use the precious tangly little leaves??” You ask.  Ermmm, no. That’s the kinda question that makes someone that is hyper passionate about Thai cooking like Derek from Make Bistro all cringy.

Derek is basically ‘the’ dude when it comes to Thai food. He cooks and he teaches how to cook Thai food…..exactly how it is. Like replicates it to the minute detail!  He holds intimate pop up dinners in Brooklyn New York where (those who are lucky enough to get a spot) can eat and discuss Thai food in an open and casual atmosphere. His food is served meticulously and recreated identically as if you were having the best meal of your life down some lane way in the back streets of Chang Mai.

Derek says “Cilantro root is very important to Thai cooking and me. Often grocery stores cut the root off before you even have a chance to savor it! There are so many uses and gives a good balance to garlic with a great herbaceous fragrance. If you have garlic, cilantro root, and white pepper, you are well on your way to creating true Thai flavor. This combination pounded up into a paste is the base for so many dishes.”

How should I best wash coriander and store it?

Chop off the roots first and set aside. Hold the stems of your bunch of coriander and dunk gently a few times into a bowl of cold water. Let sit for a few minutes to let any dirt settle. Repeat with clean water.  Remove and pat COMPLETELY dry with paper towel.  To store, wrap in fresh paper towel and keep in a plastic container if using within the week. Or the best way to keep it fresh is to place upright in a jar of water (with root and stems attached) and cover with a loose plastic bag.

What can I do with the roots??

According to Derek, it is the same process.  But just before patting the roots dry, he scrapes the roots gently but just enough to remove the excess stubborn dirt from the base of the root.  He also suggested to me that I can freeze the roots for later use in Thai sates, marinades and sauces. You can store it for up to 6 months!!

Here are a couple of links to recipes for you that use coriander/cilantro root. 

 Red Lentil Dal           

Peppercorn Cilantro root flavour paste