I made a peanut noodle salad for a potluck luncheon last Saturday and ended up with about a pound leftover cilantro. There were a lot of stems with little root portions attached and immediately, my mind went to something Thai. In particular, this spicy mixture which I’ve been making since the early 1990s. The original recipe came from Nancie McDermott’s handy Real Thai cookbook. There’s no chile because as Nancie wrote, this is an old style seasoning mixture that the Thais used in cooking before chiles arrived in Southeast Asia. The heat came from peppercorns and garlic. Everything was pounded in a mortar and pestle until smooth.
This week, decided to use both kinds of peppercorns and add coriander seed. I took the lazy day route and pounded the spices in a food processor along with several heads of garlic and a sizeable amount of cilantro. I whirled it all up with a touch of oil into a somewhat coarse, slightly creamy mixture. I had roughly 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) at the end.
I scaled back on the garlic but the flavor was pretty strong nevertheless. There’s usually no oil so it’s not a true Italian pesto, and not a chimichurri either. I wouldn’t dip foods into it. It’s a bold seasoning to keep around. You may be able to freeze it too.
What do with the pesto? Within the span of 24 hours, I came up with these ideas.