Nash Huber's Coriander

Nash Huber has some of the best fresh green coriander we've ever tasted. It has more snap and crackle in its flavor than even the good Chinese market stuff, and a lot more than the supermarket variety. The best way we have found to cook it is to deep fry it in peanut oil. That's right. We deep fry it. It pays to clean it carefully and make sure it is dry. We use a salad spinner. Even with our precautions, we can only fry a handful or two at a time, and even then the spray is awesome.

So is the result.

Parsley, coriander, basil and a lot of the other soft herbs deep fry wonderfully. We first had deep fried parsley at Chinoise in Santa Monica back in the 1980s. The maitre d' liked my jacket. We were both wearing seersucker. Since then, we've experimented with deep frying herbs. They get a crisp skin and the flavor is greatly intensified. This is the opposite of what happens when you sautee them, possibly because the high heat partially dehydrates them as it breaks the cell walls. Slower, cooler cooking means that the cell walls break and release water diluting the flavor.

We were making fried oysters. (More on this some other day. We have an amazing local oyster supplier we have to discuss at some point). We had some fresh Nash Huber coriander. We remembered the traditional Chinese dish of fried oysters with coriander from Carl's Pagoda, but why sautee the coriander. We dumped it into the oil and out came heaven.

Since we are discussing coriander, we figured we'd mention that the plant itself is of European origin, and that it was introduced to China and other points east from Europe. Coriander is sometimes called Chinese parsley, though at some time the Chinese probably thought of it as "that western herb".

While coriander has never fallen out of use in Europe, it has never been particularly popular, or even cutting edge, in European cooking. However, it has made some return thanks to fusion cuisine. We hope more people try it, deep fried or otherwise.

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