Culantro, also known as ‘Sawtooth coriander’, ‘Mexican coriander’ or ‘Pak Chi Farang’ in Thai is a herb native to central and south America that has been adopted by the Thais. Thai name discloses its foreign origin. Pak Chi means coriander and the word ‘Farang’ literally translates into foreigner. In fact the word is a distortion of the word Franc or people of French origin and Farang originally has been used in Thailand to refer to people of white skin.
Back to our herb, ‘Pak Chi Farang’ smells and tastes very much like coriander. I find the smell to be even more fragrant and pleasant than that the smell of coriander. The elongated leaves are firmer than coriander and crunchier.
It is very popular in northern and northeastern Thailand and is is often used in salads and soups. The plant is often sold whole and the preparation includes rinsing and gutting the bunch of leaves into bite-size pieces.