Cilantro Haters Challenge.

Probably a bad time to ask..but this came up again tonight in the house.
My Partner hates Cilantro (aka: that filthy nasty soap weed). Recently he was making a thai green curry paste that called for Cilantro Roots and steams, No leaf.
Now, He loves Cilantro! Well, just the stems and roots in salsa or curry..or on middle eastern flat bread.
I wonder if the chemical that most hate is more in the leaf? He'll purchase cilantro now, but goes all "Morticia Addams" on the bunch---trimming of the leaf..and holding up a bunch of stems saying "There, it's safe to eat now".
I still get the cilantro flavor and he doesn't make faces. So, it's win-win.

I've never heard of this before. If you have a 'test subject' Cilantro hater. I'd like to hear if holds true for most cilantro haters.

  • Posted by: Sam1148
  • April 22, 2011


Sadassa_Ulna April 28, 2011
Hey Panfusine, one thing I do to extend the life of cilantro is to do the following:
Rinse the bunch and chop off ends as you would cut flowers. Put in a cup that has a couple inches water in it. Then, I wrap in plastic wrap (or I re-use a clear produce bag and rubber band it). I did this and forgot about it once and it lasted like 3 weeks I could not believe. I have no idea if the wrapping really does anything, I did it for odor control [My husband would be annoyed if the fridge smelled like freshly cut cilantro, as he is a somewhat reformed hater].
SKK April 24, 2011
Great article in NY Times that reminds us thatthose of us hate cilantro, it is not our fault.
Panfusine April 24, 2011
I love the herb, but I just cant get past how quickly it 'composts' itself sitting in the fridge! just handling the squishy bag is YUCK!
sarah K. April 24, 2011
I was thinking about this thread last night as I was chopping some cilantro for a dip (some greek yogurt or lebneh with a handful of chopped chives and a large handful of cilantro- it's wonderful on falafel or just cucumbers), and I was suddenly resentful of all the times I've painstakingly torn off the leaves to chop, while tossing the stems in the compost. Never again. If the stems have the lovely flavor, minus the soapyness, why ever toss them? Why ever?

My husband required conversion to cilantro, but I lived in Mexico as a kid, so it was just part of life. But when cilantro goes bad, I have to flee the house. If I let the tuft of cut cilantro get a little slimy, then it makes me gag, and I can barely stand getting near enough to toss it out. And if I put it down the disposal, I immediately run a lemon or two, whole, through the thing afterwards, and I have to wash my hands several times to get the smell off. Cilantro that has gone bad is worse than any other thing.
boulangere April 23, 2011
Cilantro: My First Time
In a grocery store, I pinched off a leaf of the herb that suddenly was everywhere - on restaurant menus, in magazine recipes. Gasoline popped into my mind. I distinctly remember thinking, oh my god, this tastes just like gasoline. That was enough of that. I decried it every chance I got. A couple of years later my sister, who makes outstanding salsas, ordered me to try a new batch she'd made with cilantro. I made a cross with my index fingers and backed away from the salsa. But she demanded that I "stop being stupid and at least taste it" So I did. I was a convert. I use it every chance I get. It is in combinations that it is wonderful, and adds a layer of flavor unavailable from anything else. I love the smell, also, and keep a bunch of it in a jar of cold water right next to the parsley on my work table. I can't imagine cooking or eating without it. But I still don't like the taste of it by itself. The end.

Melusine April 23, 2011
Hmmmm...I can't get past the aroma to see if the stems are less soap-weedy-tasting. Might have something to do with being locked out on a balcony when I went to snip some cilantro for a mango salsa - in a thunderstorm, when I was wearing thin summer cotton lounge clothes, while my friend was running errands. The automatically locking door closed behind me. Sigh.
Panfusine April 23, 2011
Reminds me of an extra for 'alu gobi' from the 'Bend it like Beckham' movie DVD, The Director had this invaluable tip that I've followed ever since. After removing the leaves, she suggested that the stems be cut up into tiny pieces & frozen for future use. It makes for a fabulous garnish since it does not wilt like the leaves. My mother used to dry out the stems in the oven over minimum heat, powder them & sprinkle on Indian dishes and use it in her spice blends, it adds a very interesting flavor that I cannot quite describe, NOT at ALL soapy!
amysarah April 23, 2011
I do think the stems have a milder flavor than the leaves, but I also think it may have something to do with usage - in curry pastes, salsas, etc., it's mixed up with other strong flavors; straight up (e.g., leaves sprinkled a top a taco or a bowl of Thai noodles) the distinctive cilantro taste is more discernible in itself. My cilantro-adverse daughter is fine with it in curries and such, but has told me that on its own, it reminds her of getting a mouth full of Mr. Bubble during childhood baths.
pierino April 23, 2011
Fascinating observation Sam. I'm well familiar with cilantro haters. I'll definitely try the stem approach.
sixelagogo April 23, 2011
I used to think cilantro tasted like a fart (not soapy) and wouldn't eat anything that it was in...i decided i needed to get over my fear and loathing and embraced it by eating it regardless of whether or not i liked...took about 1 year to get over the loathe, but now i'm a solid cilantro lover.
Greenstuff April 23, 2011
Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking identifies the soapy compound as a fatty aldehyde decenal. He notes that (1) decenal breaks down with heat and (2) that there is no decenal in the root. indicates that concentrations of the decenal compounds increase with age--leading consumers to prefer young cilantro to old. So, one more test for your partner, Sam1148 and other cilantro haters--does it taste as soapy if it's been cooked? I thinking maybe not.

By the way #1: I love the slightly Freudian slip that the compounds are a defense against incest. We all guard against that. As well as against insects.

And #2 random thought: casting about for info, it seems that people who associate cilantro with a soapy taste are to some extent making a psychological rather than a physiological judgement--another interesting avenue of inquiry! The web seems to think we can train our cilantro haters to embrace it.

Sam1148 April 23, 2011
Double post: we went out to nice middle eastern resturant last month, with his Mom. And they served wood grilled flat bread with garnishes of feta cheese, and zaatar. and Cilantro as the herb. He was picking off the leaf..and cutting up the steams and his Mom was giving him the "WTF" eye. "I HATE cilantro leaf..but I love the flavor of the stems"

The internet doesn't have many, if any, of this idea. So, here would be a nice place to explore the idea...and see if it's common among soap weed haters.
Sam1148 April 23, 2011
@SKK I think that was me. Asking the same issue. I'm just wondering if there's some more stories or objective SCIENCE! behind the idea.

I did a shallow search and it seems Cilantro uses the soapins (sp) in the leaf as a defense against incests. I find this fascinating..but haven't seen any 'taste tastes' on haters to see if the phenomena is real.

Ahhh...I backed track and see the suggestion I made from your original post. Did you try it with just the steam and as a 'hater' find that acceptable?

mrslarkin April 23, 2011
yes, I've heard of this very same thing!!!
SKK April 23, 2011
Your partner is correct. I hate cilantro, but can eat the stems. Asked the question awhile ago and learned a lot.
Recommended by Food52