I Used To Hate Coriander
Can you guess who made me change my mind?
This is the story of how I went from hating coriander to cooking with it.
I hated coriander violently and with a passion. I called it the devil’s parsley. I gave family and friends a hard time over it. If it was on your plate, I could smell it. Nothing could make me through a wobbler faster than micro coriander on my food. Coriander was my nemesis.
You get the picture, if coriander was on fire, I would throw oil on it. Anyway, a few months back, I went out one evening for dinner with my gorgeous friend Sinead (HI SINEAD!). She decided that since I’d not been to any of the Klaw restaurants yet, that we absolutely needed to meet at one of them. She selected the most recently opened one, The Seafood Café in Temple Bar. Sinead and I have yet to disagree on food and I trust her her choices fully so I just went along happy out to discover a new favourite.
The Seafood Café is Niall Sabongi’s latest brain child and you might have read about it in my list of my favourite restaurants in Dublin south, as since that night I’ve been a regular customer. It serves mainly super fresh seafood with a bit of a spicy twist. The seafood is mainly Irish and always delicious. The seasoning agents and spices used are of particular interest, they are full of flavour nothing will burn. Niall is a Failte Ireland food champion and with his love of Irish food and big personality you can see why. When not in the kitchen, you will see him regularly in the newspapers and giving talks and food demos at events and food festivals.
Anyway, the scene is set. I’m at dinner with Sinead and my boyfriend and we’re going through the inevitable sweet torture of going through a new and appealing menu and having to make a choice. Sinead takes the lead and points out the items which she believes to be unmissable. There’s crab macaroni and cheese, there’s a simple lobster roll, there’s mushrooms on toast, a few torched oysters and there is a poke taco.
It’s the poke taco that gets to me. The taco shell is crisp and light, the tuna shiny and very comeheretome, but there’s a fair bit of coriander sprinkled on top. So I brush it off and go for a bite but I realise not all of it came off. This is shared food and I can’t really start making a fuss when my companions both enjoy the devil’s parsley, so I say nothing.
I say nothing and keep on eating. I’m eating coriander. Can you dig it? Because I do, dig it I mean. As I’m chewing I’m realising that in this very combination, I’m not hating the coriander. What’s going on? What’s happening? Why am I liking it? I mention none of this to anyone and keep enjoying my evening. I know that most people who detest coriander do so because of that gene that makes it taste like soap. For me, I never tasted soap but I never liked it. It over powered everything and would give me the boke really.
Over the next few months (yes months), I gently test myself, I avoid coriander less and less. I don’t seek it our either but when I bump into in the odd dip, or a funky banh mi, I start to realise that coriander can be good when it’s used right (read sparingly) and of course when sprinkled on top of a delicious ahi poke taco.
As time went on, I wondered whether I could maybe start using it at home and still enjoy it. So I asked Sinead what would be a good starter move and she pointed me towards tanane, a delicious Moroccan condiment. The only change I made to the recipe is that to start with I went with half coriander half parsley and I will build up from that as I keep making it.
So here it is, the key to making me change my mind about the devil’s parsley was a woman with excellent taste in food and one of the best chefs in Ireland.
If you have any particular recommendations on how to use coriander, will you let me know please? I’m still all new and shy with it.