When you use it with restraint, cilantro can add a bright, fresh flavor to many dishes. It is especially important for Mexican favorites like salsa and guacamole, but it is also a significant element in Indian, Chinese and Thai cooking. However, the zippy freshness that cilantro brings can become unpleasant if you add too much. Excess cilantro can bring the notes that the herb’s haters find unpleasant, like a strong soapy flavor along with bitterness. If you have added too much cilantro to your dish, there are several ways that you can correct it.
Table of Contents
- Dilute/Make another batch
- Add onion
- Add heat
- Extra cooking time
- Physical removal
- Must-read related posts
Dilute/Make another batch
As in most cases where you have added too much of a spice or herb, the simplest and most effective solution is to dilute. Simply make another batch of the dish, but without cilantro. You can then combine the two. The second batch will tone down the flavor in the first.
Note that the dilution method works best with simpler items like a sofrito or pico de gallo. For more complex or time-consuming dishes, it may not be suitable. For example, making another batch of arroz con pollo or a Thai green curry might take too long if you are in a rush to get dinner ready.
Of course, this method will result in you having excess food. You can either have leftovers another day or you can discard the excess. In either case, you will not have to throw out the whole dish.
The flavor of cilantro is strong, and the best way to balance a strong flavor in a dish is to pair it with an equally strong but complementary flavor. The pungency of onion can help to distract from the soapiness that too much cilantro can bring to a dish. Note that this method works best the excess cilantro is in a cooked dish. Adding more onion to an uncooked dish may overpower everything else so that you wind up with too much of two flavors instead of one.
Finely chop an onion and add it to the dish with too much cilantro, then let it cook for a few minutes longer. The onion should counteract the flavor of the cilantro without adding unpleasant flavor notes to your dish.
The spiciness of hot peppers can have a similar effect to onion. By adding heat, you can deepen the flavors in your dish and distract from the excess cilantro.
Be careful about going overboard. Start by adding a single chopped jalapeño or a half-teaspoon of cayenne pepper and working your way up from there.
Extra cooking time
One of cilantro’s characteristics is its inability to handle long cooking times. This is why chefs recommended adding it towards the end of cooking. While this is usually a drawback of the herb, it can actually be a benefit if you add too much. If possible, cook your dish for a few minutes longer to eliminate some of the soapiness. Of course, this is only an option for dishes that are in no danger of overcooking.
For dishes where the cilantro is not finely chopped, you should be able to remove some of the larger pieces before they release all their flavor. Simply pick them out before the full cooking time has elapsed to rescue your dish.