Cilantro Oil

This oil is used for topping fish and chicken, or cam be used as part of a deconstructed salsa. It is also a nice way to make simple dishes such as grilled or sautéed summer squash into something elegant. Cilantro oil does not keep for more than a few days, so don’t make vast quantities, and keep it in the refrigerator when not in use. You can also freeze the oil.

INGREDIENTS:

1 bunch cilantro, roots and stems trimmed off half-way up
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley leaves
3/4 cup sunflower of grapeseed oil
Salt for boiling water

Special Equipment: Cheesecloth — enough to line a strainer large enough to contain all the herbs and oil after puréeing

METHOD:

Bring a large pot of liberally salted water to a boil.

Get an ice-water bath ready. Fill a bowl (or the sink) large enough to hold a strainer with water and ice (at least 30% ice, 50% works better).

Place the herbs in a strainer and dunk it in the boiling water for 10-15 seconds, long enough to thoroughly wilt the stems.

Immediately plunge the strainer with the herbs into the ice-bath to arrest the cooing. Chill the herbs just long enough so they are just cool.

Remove the herbs from the ice-bath and shake off what water you can. Dry the herbs by rolling in a towel or paper towels and squeeze them. Using a very sharp knife or kitchen shears, cut the herbs into 1/2 inch bits.

Place half the herbs into a blender jar with just enough oil to cover. Turn on the machine to medium/puree and blend one minute. If the herbs aren’t turning, add a little more oil and try again. Use just enough oil to get things going. Once the herbs start puréeing, turn up to high and blend for one minute.

With the motor running, add the rest of the oil and then half the remaining herbs. Blend 30 seconds before adding the rest of the herbs. Blend 2 minutes more.

Transfer the contents to a jar and refrigerate for 1 day or overnight.

When the time is up, place a strainer lined with cheesecloth (secure the cheesecloth with clips or clothespins so it doesn’t fold over on itself), over a bowl or pan and pour the contents of the jar into the cheesecloth. Allow to drain until it seems like all the oil has dripped through, then gently take up the corners of the cloth and give the bundle a couple of good bounces over the bowl. Do not squeeze the cloth or the resulting drips will cloud the oil you have already extracted.

Transfer oil to the smallest bottle you have that will hold the oil, or better yet, a small squeeze bottle. Keep it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or freeze it for a couple months.

Chef’s Notes:

Remember that air is what will oxidize this oil in a hurry, so keep it in the smallest vessel you can find for it. You can get small squeeze bottles at beauty supply shops, art  supply stores, and foodie shops. Use this oil as a seasoning or to top things such as fish and chicken.

YIELD: About 1/3 cup