Many cuisines, whether it be Caribbean, South American or Asian, you will find that culantro is a common ingredient in various dishes. Many people think that culantro is the same as cilantro. Well, kind of. Culantro is similar to cilantro in the term of aroma and flavor, however its appearance is totally different.
Culantro has sawtooth-like leaves which grow like lettuce; with the leaves grow from the center. Meanwhile cilantro has long slender stems with parsley-like leaves on the top. For aroma and flavor, even though they are similar, culantro has more pungent and stronger citrus flavor than cilantro.
In Thai cuisine, the use of culantro is unlimited; add to a salad, boil with soup, mix in a relish or eat fresh. In my kitchen, the dish I make quite often is Thai Pork Salad (Larb Moo). Adding chopped culantro along with cilantro, shallot and mint brings this salad to the next level. The distinctive aroma of culantro makes it hard to find other herbs to substitute; a similar case to galangal.
Now you want to know where to buy culantro. Your local international grocery store is the answer. Asian grocery stores like 99 ranch, H Mart and Hong Kong Market normally carry culantro. If you try and like it that much, grow it yourself. And the good news is culantro is an easy herb to grow. I bought mine from Nelson Water Gardens and Nursery. I started from two plants now they have grown to six. Hope you enjoy this wonderful herb.