When it comes to flavoring grilled fare, nothing beats cilantro. The leaves of the coriander plant have an unusually pungent flavor that has endeared it to grill jockeys all over the world.
Once the province of ethnic markets, fresh cilantro is now available in virtually any major supermarket. If you’re lucky enough to live in an area with a large Hispanic or Asian community, you may be able to find fresh bunches of cilantro with the roots attached. (The roots are used as a flavoring for marinades and spice pastes throughout Southeast Asia.) Fresh cilantro is often very sandy, so before using it, it’s best to give the leaves a good rinsing.
To wash cilantro, hold the bunch by the stems and agitate the leaves in a large bowl of cold water. Change the water once or twice, or until it is free of grit.
To dry cilantro, still holding it by the stems, shake it firmly in a wide arc. (This is best done outdoors, so as not to spatter your walls with water.) Alternatively, shake them (somewhat less enthusiastically) in the sink or blot them dry with paper towels. Or use a salad spinner, once you’ve plucked off the roots.
To stem cilantro, pluck small sprigs off the large stems. (The small stems are okay to keep and chop.)
To keep leftover cleaned cilantro fresh for later use, loosely wrap it in a moist paper towel and store it in an unsealed plastic bag in the refrigerator. It’s important that the bag be unsealed, so that the cilantro leaves can "breathe."
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