Asia and Mexico are no stranger to the magic combination of lime and cilantro. Together, the duo brightens salsas and Thai dipping sauces; garnishes tacos and Vietnamese pho; tempers spicy chilies and curries.
Calamansi, or the Philippine lime, pairs just as well with cilantro. This recipe adapts Chipotle’s lime cilantro rice to local wansoy and calamansi, creating a refreshing green sinangag. We recommend using long-grain rice like jasmine or basmati.
Wansoy, AKA cilantro or coriander
Wansoy is the Filipino name for cilantro or coriander. The leaves have a clean, citrusy flavor (that melds well with calamansi!) while the stems, beloved by Thai cooks, taste sweet and peppery.
You'll also find wansoy labeled as Chinese parsley. Don’t confuse it with Chinese celery, or kinchay, which also has flat leaves. They taste very different!
Fresh wansoy is highly perishable and should be used within the day. To store, wrap your wansoy in newspaper and refrigerate.
Why does wansoy taste like soap?
While some people find wansoy fresh and lemony, others—usually haters—will claim that it tastes like soap. They’re not wrong.
If wansoy or cilantro tastes like soap to you, you most likely have a genetic variation that makes you extra sensitive to aldehydes: a class of chemicals present in cilantro and soap. That overlap explains the soapy flavor. But don’t worry, it’s not permanent!
Whether you’re looking to overcome your aldehyde-sensitive DNA or just want to ease up on the cilantro flavor, you can either do one of three things:
- Crush the wansoy leaves. According to Harold McGee, crushing wansoy (as you would in a pesto) releases enzymes that break down those soapy compounds.
- Substitute with parsley and lemon. Parsley tastes close to wansoy, while lemon juice or zest fills in the herb’s citrusy notes. Or if you’re making this rice, just use parsley—the calamansi juice will fill in for the lemon.
- Reduce the wansoy. Just make calamansi rice with a bit of cilantro!
- 2 cups lightly packed wansoy (cilantro)
- ½ cup calamansi juice
- ½ cup leeks, green parts only
- ⅛ cup olive oil
- 1 tsp salt, more to taste
- 2 cups cooked long-grain rice, such as jasmine or basmati
Make wansoy calamansi mixture: Combine wansoy, calamansi juice, leeks, olive oil, and salt in a blender or food processor. Blend until a smooth green sauce forms. If the consistency is too thick, add a splash or two of water to thin it out.
Toss with rice: Pour wansoy-calamansi mixture over your cooked rice. Using a fork, toss and fluff the rice until grains are separated and evenly coated. Season to taste if needed. Serve warm with seafood.