A reader is looking for Long Coriander (Eryngium foetidum), an herb she grew up with in Puerto Rico and needs in order to make that island's indigenous dishes.
Long Coriander, a member of the parsley family, is native to the Caribbean islands and is known by many names. Compare Food Store (818 East Arrowood Road, 704-716-1170) sells this fresh herb by both its Puerto Rican name recao and Mexican name culantro.
In English, this herb is known by many names, including Puerto Rican Coriander, Mexican Coriander, Spirit Weed and Saw Leaf. (In English, we use the term Cilantro for the leaves of another herb plant and Coriander for the seeds of that plant.) Long Coriander has five to seven inch narrow (about an inch) serrated leaves with a pronounced spine, and a more pungent aroma than cilantro. In Puerto Rico, this herb is essential for sofrito, which in turn is a base ingredient for many Puerto Rican dishes such as chicken with rice. Sofrito is a blend of onion, bell pepper, aji dulce, garlic, cilantro, and recao. Long Coriander is also used throughout the Caribbean in salsas and ceviche.
Long Coriander is used in Thai, Vietnamese and other Southeast Asian cuisines and can be found under the name ngo gai in Vietnamese grocery stores when in season. The leaves are used in Vietnamese soups and as a wrap for other foods. The Thai word pak chi farang is the same word used for both parsley and Long Coriander. This herb is used in soups, coconut-milk based curries, and noodle dishes.
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