Pipicha is an herbaceous plant native to Mexico, especially Oaxaca. Cooking with pipicha is a local regional tradition, with the plant an important part of dishes, such as Sopa de Guias, and as an aromatic for fresh fish. The flavor is reportedly quite intense but a few insights into how to use pepicha will have you cooking like a South American pro.
About Pepicha Herb Uses
Committed cooks are always looking for a new herb or spice. Using pepicha plants will add some serious zing to dishes. Depending upon the region, the herb may be known as pepicha or pipicha. Pipicha has use in many types of recipes. This delicate herb from Mexico mimics the citrus flavor of cilantro but packs much more of a punch.
In Oaxaca, the herb is added to arroz blanco, or white rice, which gives the plain starch a nice zing. Modern Mexican cooking is rediscovering this native herb and fancy nouvelle restaurants feature the seasoning in their menus.
Pipicha can be difficult to find. Good Mexican food stores or farmer’s markets will sometimes carry it. You can most easily find it dried but much of the punch has gone out of the herb. The plant is comprised of wispy stems which become adorned with lovely purple blooms. These develop much like poppy pods, which contain ripe seed.
The flavor ingredient is the slender stems and leaves which are chopped before adding to a dish. Be warned when cooking with pipicha! The taste is like cilantro on steroids and a little bit goes a long way.
While using pepicha plants in cooking is their main use, there are traditional medicinal applications. It has been used against bacterial infections, liver cleansing and detox. Since it is mainly a culinary herb, most pipicha ideas available are from recipes native to Mexico and South America. In fact, pipicha is also called Bolivian coriander.
The flavor is said to be citrusy but with a bit of pine and mint mixed in. It has some of the bite of arugula and can be a bit overwhelming. Mostly, it is the basis of condiments or in sandwiches. It can also be found as a seasoning in soups and stewed meat dishes but is added after cooking as a garnish.
How to Use Pepicha Herbs
A very fun way to introduce yourself to pipicha uses is by making Garnachas de Calabacitas. These are basically seasoned masa patties fried with a squash, corn, tomato and quinoa filling – very Old World but tasty. The pepicha shows up in just a small amount to season the filling which is garnished with cotija cheese, bean puree and queso fresco.
A simpler way to sample the flavor is to delicately decorate a freshly grilled fish with the chopped herb. Other pepicha herb uses are with eggs, braised beef ribs, or rich, creamy frijoles.