Sacha culantro

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This aromatic herb is known as “sacha culantro” (Eryngium foetidum) or “jungle culantro” in the eastern part of the Peruvian Amazon where it is a basic ingredient in local cuisine. In the rest of the country, this spice is neither known nor used because the plant known as “culantro” is none other than Coriandrum sativum, or common coriander (cilantro).

Because of this lexical similarity, there are two different versions that explain the name given to this species: the first explanation concerns the meaning of the word “sacha” that signifies “close to…”, indicating a certain resemblance to common coriander (culantro). A second explanation instead hypothesises that the term comes from the quechua language, where the term “chachra” means the land where this plant grows.

This plant consists of a trunk that can reach 40cm, on which elongated leaves grow, covered with small, bright green spines. It is harvested by hand, selecting the largest leaves.

Besides being used in the kitchen, it is used to cure flu symptoms and intestinal problems with prepared infusions. A tisane of its leaves is administered to women to relieve childbirth pains.

The fragrance is similar to coriander and appears in many dishes in the Andean wild; its fresh leaves, both whole and torn, are used to flavour fresh water fish soups or meat stews.

Thanks to the assessment work of a few Peruvian haute cuisine representatives like Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, there is an effort to make it better known, also offering new gastronomic uses.
Notwithstanding it is a plant with a large range, awareness of the sacha culantro is actually restricted to the surrounding places like the Amazonian area.

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Territory

StatePeru
Region

Loreto

San Martin

Ucayali

Other info

Categories

Spices, wild herbs and condiments

Nominated by:Dauro Mattia Zocchi, Pedro Miguel Schiaffino