Culantro is a tropical perennial herb that is native to Mexico, Central and South America and Puerto Rico. The leaf is green with long jagged edges (spiny). The culantro has a strong aromatic scent. The Taíno Indians cultivated the culantro in Puerto Rico. Therefore, it is an integral part of the Puerto Rican cookery. The other Spanish term frequently used for culantro in Puerto Rico is “recao.”
I grow my own culantro in long planters every summer. They are placed on my back deck away from direct sunlight. Whenever a recipe calls for culantro as one of the ingredients, I retrieve several culantro leaves from my garden. You can instantly smell the pleasant aromatic scent released by the culantro while cooking your dish. This herb will definitely give your dish a unique flavor and aroma.
You can purchase the culantro at the Latin Market or learn How to Grow Culantro.
Alternatives for Special Ingredients:
Cilantro and culantro are cousins with similar flavors while shaped differently. However, the culantro has a stronger flavor and aromatic scent. There were no Latin markets when my parents came to the United States; therefore, they substituted for the culantro with cilantro.
If a recipes calls for both the culantro and the cilantro and you are unable to purchase the culantro, then increase the amount of cilantro for said recipe.