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One French word: coriandre, a French recipe, saumon au four, pesto de coriandre

Coriandre, masculine noun (le coriandre, du coriandre – one never says un coriandre or des coriandres) = coriander (UK Eng.), cilantro (US Eng.), (pronounced korrie-aan-dr, both rs in the back of your throat, slight stress on the first syllable).

A lot of French people (including me at one time, I have to say) put coriandre in the feminine, which it is not. I once lost a bet on this.

Coriandrum sativum (picture from Wikipedia)

Coriandrum sativum is widely cultivated for its culinary and medicinal properties but it also grows wild all around the Mediterranean. The leaves, the root and the dried seeds are all used. It is good for the digestion.

My recipe for today is for saumon au four, pesto de coriandre = baked salmon with coriander (cilantro) sauce.

Saumon au four, pesto de coriandre

For 2 people you will need:

  • 1 tbs slices spring onion greens
  • 1 very small clove of garlic (don’t put too much or it completely masks the other flavours)
  • 4 tbs roughly chopped coriander (cilantro) (stems and leaves)
  • salt, pepper
  • 4 tbs olive oil
  • a large handful of pine nuts

Some of the ingredients

Le saumon

La papillotte


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C
  2. Peel and boil the potatoes. This will take 20 minutes from boiling point.
  3. Place a portion of salmon on each sheet of paper, salt very slightly, grind a little black pepper, and close the parcel. Add no butter or oil.
  4. Cook  for 12 minutes in the hot oven.
  5. In the meantime, put the coriander, garlic, pine nuts, spring onion and olive oil, with a ¼tsp salt and 4 turns of the pepper mill, into a mini mixer and grind, pushing down the ingredients which stick to the sides, but leaving some texture. Not too pulpy in other words.
  6. Drain the potatoes, open the salmon packets, and run a knife between the fish and the skin (often the skin sticks to the paper a little and it is easy enough to leave the skin behind). With a fish slice or a spatula, transfer the salmon without its skin to individual serving plates.
  7. Cut the potatoes into chunks, spoon a little pesto over them and the fish, and garnish with sprouted seeds.

I cook a lot in little packets (papillottes), it is quick, clean and easy.

Pesto de coriandre

This pesto is also good on cold beef, pasta or rice, and as a basis for vinaigrette for salads (just thin it with a little vinegar). It will keep in a jar in the fridge for a couple of days.

Saumon et pesto

Bon appétit.

I have to go away for a week or so, and I shall not be connected to internet. So try as I might to pre-publish posts, I have not been able to accomplish a week’s worth. My challenge is broken, too bad, I’m not too worried about that really. I’ll get going again in March when I’m back.


About OneFrenchWord

I was a professional linguist and have been a life-long foodie. I am now lucky enough to be retired and free to roam the beaches around my home at the tip of the Finistère (Brittany, France). Writing is occupying a larger place in my life, with this blog and a children's book in preparation. I shall feel much happier calling myself a writer when I have published a book. And so posts on OneFrenchWord will be published first as an e-book, my ambition being to see a glossy volume on French language and cuisine in print some day. So keep reading, and snap up the book when it appears!

8 responses »

  1. This sounds yummy, I love salmon and I will try it this way. The most interesting thing however is using onions (and no cheese) in the pesto, which I am sure will make it lighter and fresher.

    We look forward to having you back..
    Bon voyage/sejour :-)

  2. I don’t know why —-but I hate cilantro leaves. I like coriander powder in middle eastern foods. I like coriander seeds in other dishes I have had. I love Mexican food, yet cilantro is piled high in all the sauces. I love Chinese food, yet cilantro is a prominent ingredient in many dishes. This is hard on me!!! I have to pick these leaves out all the time!!! So I cannot escape it here in San Francisco. It turns out I am not the only one who absolutely hates the cilantro leaf. It must be some genetic taste bud thing. (Because there are very few food items I feel such antipathy towards!!!)

    • I absolutely adore it, of course! In this recipe you can replace the cilantro with basil, just parsley, tarragon, dill even if you are eating it with salmon (but the dill needs to be well mixed to you don’t get feathery scratchy bits). None of these will be as distinctive as cilantro, but do try them rather than putting the recipe to one side.

  3. I would also have said ‘la coriandre’ but have been here less time than you so have more excuse!! We also do salmon en papillote – lemon juice and a little black pepper sprinkled on top plus some fresh dill (my husband is Swedish and does a mean gravlax). I haven’t tried pesto with coriander but I’m sure it goes well with salmon.

    • I’d be really happy to have your husband’s Swedish gravlax recipe. Would he divulge it? Or to my private email?

      • Happy to share the gravlax recipe – I’ll send it via email. It has been doing the rounds of SW France for several years. We always serve it as a starter on New Year’s Eve and there is rarely enough left for lunch the following day!


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