Neither Tony nor I like cilantro, so this recipe was a big deal for us. The fresh herbs are very quickly blanched (just 10 seconds) which preserves the overall taste and brilliant green hue, but takes the grassy, bitter, or soapy edge off the flavor that bothers many people. We both loved the result it produced in this delicious and versatile dairy-free cilantro sauce. You can use it atop various plant-based and omnivorous entrees, but I’ve included one of our favorites with the recipe.
Amazing Dairy-Free Cilantro Sauce for Fish, Chicken, Tofu, or Vegetables
This dairy-free cilantro sauce is from a halibut over roasted vegetables recipe, adapted from Epicurious. The whole dish takes minimal effort, but it looks and tastes impressive. The fish roasts atop the vegetables for ease and great presentation. When served with a generous drizzle of the lightly spicy dairy-free cilantro sauce, it’s quite pretty, and has gourmet appeal.
I originally shared the full entrée recipe about fifteen years ago. But today, I’m giving it a big update, and putting the sauce in the spotlight. In fact, it’s now the main recipe! But don’t worry, that wonderful halibut recipe is still there – in the notes of the recipe.
Special Diet Notes: Amazing Dairy-Free Cilantro Sauce
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, optionally gluten-free, nut-free, peanut-free, optionally soy-free, and optionally paleo. The cilantro sauce itself is also plant-based, vegan, and vegetarian.
- ½ cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
- ½ cup packed fresh flat-leafed parsley leaves
- 1 tablespoon + ¼ cup water (can sub broth), plus additional for blanching the herbs
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce or gluten-free tamari (sub coconut aminos for soy-free and paleo)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Salt, to taste
- Black pepper, to taste
- Prepare a bowl of ice water.
- Bring a small pot of water to boil. Add the cilantro and parsley for just 10 seconds (to blanch them), and then drain. Plunge the herbs into the ice water to stop the cooking and then drain.
- Heat the 1 tablespoon water and 1 teaspoon oil in a small nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add the shallots, garlic, ginger, cumin, and red pepper flakes and saute until the shallots are softened, about 3 minutes.
- Scrape the shallot mixture into your blender, and add the blanched herbs, remaining ¼ cup water, soy sauce, and lemon juice. Puree until smooth, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.
- The cilantro sauce may be made 1 day ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container.