Tag Archives: papalo


Cemita Pork Sandwich.
Cemita Pork Sandwich.

Since we had papalo in this week’s CSA I wanted to try a cemita. When I was investigating papalo a few weeks ago, cemitas seemed to come up again and again as the quintessential way to use the herb. Cemita seems to refer to the sesame roll and to the sandwich and there also seem to all kinds of recipes for the sandwich. This is the one I used tonight. The Guajillo peppers that I got from Penzeys were a revelation. So smoky and fruity. They really made the pork. Papalo really works in this sandwich. Its citrus and medicinal brightness really lift the sandwich.

I also could not find good sesame seed buns, but the ciabatta rolls I found at Olde Hearth Bread Company worked really well.

This is going to sound crazy but the biggest revelation was the avocado. I love The big Florida (Mexican) avocados. They have a far lower fat content than the Haas. The recipe instructs you to mash the avocado in the shell. Why had I never thought of this before? Genius! No washing up, no mess.

Papalo (Porophyllum ruderale spp macrocephalum)

This herb was unknown to us when it appeared in our Pick box last week. Frog Song called it Bolivian Coriander and one sniff tells you why. You can definitely get the cilantro like smell of it. So we used it as a garnish on an okra frittata, in banana wrapped fish, and in a mango salsa.

Bethany and Sam described it as lemony, citrus, pungent, medicinal. I think I prefer cilantro overall. This herb is a bit stronger. It lasts well in the fridge standing in a glass of water.

Here is what I found out about it. It is native to Central America and the southwest of the US. The USDA plant profile is here.

Eliza Lord at Appalachian Feethas a good post on growing the herb and has a number of recipes and Victoria Challancin at Flavors of the Sun adds a few more, and finally Gina Ruiz adds a dose of enthusiasm for the herb at Doña Lupe’s Kitchen. On page 190 of Diana Kennedy’s classic book The Essential Cuisines of Mexico she mentions this herb in her recipe for Pueblan Semitas (a sandwich) and calls it  papaloquelite.

I would love love to find one of those sandwiches.

Tilapia with Mango Salsa.

This was Bethany’s idea for papalo. This is a variation on a recipe supplied by Sam. Here is the recipe.

Tilapia with Mango Salsa

The salsa

One Florida mango, diced.
One small sweet onion, thinly sliced.
One diced sweet pepper.
Juice of one lime.
One tablespoon of chopped papalo leaves.

Mix all the ingredients together and set aside for the flavors to blend.

The Tilapia

Two tilapia fillets
Juice of one lemon.
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste.

Marinade the tilapia in the other ingredients. Heat skillet to medium high add olive oil. Pan fry the tilapia, two minutes on one side, turn it over, add rest of marinade liquid, cover, turn the heat down low and cook for a few minutes (until the fish flakes.)

Place the fish on a serving dish, and top with salsa. It was delicious.

Tilapia with mango salsa
Tilapia with mango salsa

Playing with Papalo

It has been fun trying this new (to us) herb from Frog Song Organics, papalo, in various ways. It is also known as Bolivian Coriander and is said to taste like cilantro, so that is what we tried first.

I have been growing okra in the garden this year, so for brunch this Sunday I made a okra frittata and sprinkled papalo on top. Here is the recipe. It makes enough for four people.

Okra Frittata

Okra Frittata with Papalo
Okra Frittata with Papalo
  • One dozen okra
  • Four eggs
  • Tablespoon of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chopped papalo leaves for garnish.

Heat a ten inch skillet, add olive oil. Slice the okra in rounds. Add to the skillet and sauté until bright green (2-5 minutes). Beat the eggs and add salt and pepper. Pour the eggs into the skillet and cook until browned on the bottom. Loosen the frittata from the skillet bottom. Place a large plate over the skillet and turn it over. Add more oil to the skillet if necessary, then slide the frittata back into the skillet and brown the other side. Repeat the plate trick with a clean plate, sprinkle with papalo and serve warm.

Amaranth in Hot Garlicky Sauce (Suan Ni Xian Cai)*

My new favorite way to cook amaranth leaves. This is another variation on a Fuchsia Dunlop recipe from Land of Plenty.

Amaranth, all ready to go.
Amaranth, all ready to go.

Amaranth can be a somewhat fibrous vegetable, so prepping is well worth the time. Nip off the smallest leaves and set aside. Nip the leaves from the petiole at the base, so that the petiole remains on the stem (not sure about your parts of the leaf? See here.) using a paring knife, strip the petioles from the stem pulling them down the stem so that you remove the petiole and some of the fibers from the stem, just like you would peal a stick of rhubarb. Wash everything thoroughly. Amaranth can be gritty as well. Chop the stems in half inch pieces and roughly chop the leaves. Now you are ready to begin. By the way, this prep is pretty much what I use for any amaranth recipe. Here is the recipe.


Amaranth in Hot Garlicky Sauce

  • One bunch of amaranth, prepped as above.
  • Four tablespoons of sweet aromatic soy sauce (fu zhi jiang you).
  • Four tablespoons of chili oil.
  • 2-3 cloves of crushed garlic.
  • 2 teaspoons of sesame oil.
  • Chopped papalo (or cilantro) for garnish.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. In the meantime mix the soy sauce, chili oil, garlic, and sesame oil in a small bowl. Blanch the amaranth for about 3-5 minutes. Test a leaf to check if it is cooked. Strain the amaranth from the water. Thoroughly mix the sauce into the amaranth and place in a serving bowl, sprinkle with the papalo. Serve warm.

Front; amaranth in hot and garlicky sauce. Back dried fried beans.

We had this with dry fried yard long beans (gain bian si ji dou) and we just couldn’t resist traditional corn on the cob with lashings of butter, since it was so fresh. So this was an all-CSA meal tonight. The pork in the beans is just a flavoring and the beans are crunchy, the amaranth is very garlicky and somewhat spicy. All in all a great combination. ll washed down with a Vouvray.

* My Chinese is virtually non-existent. So I hope I have this right. Let me know if I need to correct it.

More than we expected this week.

We got more than we expected this week. Amaranth, sweet corn (John threw in a couple of extra ears), sunflowers, sweet onions, sweet peppers, yard long beans, and papalo, but also another gorgeous watermelon and some nice complements on the blog from the good folks at  Frog Song.

That papalo is definitely the most intriguing. I am going to have to do a whole post on that. Anyone have any ideas how to use it?

Clockwise from the sunflowers, sweet corn, sweet onions, papalo, sweet peppers,  amaranth, and watermelon.
Clockwise from the sunflowers, sweet corn, sweet onions, papalo, sweet peppers, yard long beans, amaranth, and watermelon.