When I visit Philadelphia from time to time, there’s a Vietnamese restaurant that I go to satiate my pho cravings. At Pho Ha, the portions are generous and the broth is oh so tasty. It’s also the only pho place that I’ve been to that serves a particular type of side garnish. The usual suspects are the fresh thai basil leaves, the sliced jalapeno peppers, the bean sprouts, and lime pieces. This place however, also serves a particular herb that I always throw into the broth. The only thing is, I had no idea what it was. The leaves are long and serrated and have a great crunch to it. The flavor is distinctive, kind of earthy, but not overpowering. It pairs really well with the broth.
It took me a while do actually discover the name of it. My Internet detective skills in trying to find out what it was called did not yield any results. Until one day, I showed a picture of it to my coworker. She said it was called culantro. At first I said, “You mean, cilantro.” “No.” she said. “It’s called culantro.” I had very little reason to doubt her since her knowledge on herbs and spices is quite vast.
I typed in culantro into Google and out came the results I had been in search of. Culantro, also known as Mexican coriander and long coriander, is an herb that is native to Mexico and South America that is cultivated worldwide. It’s about time I found out what this herb is called, it’s been bothering me for a while. Case closed.