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.