Aarón Sánchez Reveals 'The Herb Your Home Garden Has Been Missing'

Leave it to chef Aarón Sánchez to use his social media platform to lift up the marginalized, lesser-known, unseen herbs of the culinary world. Sánchez is known for his role as a judge on "MasterChef" and admired for his creation of the Aarón Sánchez Scholarship Fund, a nonprofit aimed at identifying and mentoring Latin chefs (via Shondaland). So, it's no surprise that the Mexican-American chef, and owner of Johnny Sánchez in New Orleans, has a nose for those who might not be getting the attention they deserve – be they human or be they herbs.

In a recent Instagram post, Sánchez extolled the virtues of the humble papalo, a cilantro-like herb that, according to the caption, is "THE herb your home garden is missing!" As the chef went on to explain, papalo will take your salsa to the next level with its "vibrant" (or, as he says in the video, "jacked-up") flavor. "It's almost like ginger, pickled ginger, to [...] cleanse your palate," Sánchez says of papalo, pointing out that the herb is often used in Toluca, a region famous for its green chorizo. Comparing the taste to that of spearmint, Sánchez labels his video "Tips from a Latin Market," prompting at least one user to comment, "please do more market segments please." We second that sentiment, Chef.

A pico of papalo goes a long way

An herb by any other name would taste as strong, and papalo is an herb of many names. In Aarón Sánchez's Instagram post, he refers to the plant as papaloquelite (which translates to "butterfly wings"), but as Epic Gardening reports, the herb is also known as Bolivian coriander or yerba porosa, and the papalo moniker itself actually originates from the native Nahuatl word for "butterfly." (Advice From The Herb Lady says the people in Spain refer to call papalo as mampuitu, or "skunk," due to the strong smell emitted by large crops of the herb ... a name that's nowhere near as cute as "butterfly wings.")

No matter what you call it, papalo is as strong as it is simple to grow, requiring only a warm, sunny climate, like its native Central and South America. While Epic Gardening describes the papalo flavor as somewhere between that of cilantro and arugula, you might only need a fraction of the amount of cilantro you might use in a recipe if you are substituting papalo because the taste is just that powerful (or, again, "jacked up," to use the culinary distinction we now prefer). Chef Sánchez likes papalo for palate cleansing or amping up a chimichurri. But since you're dealing with such a potent plant, amp up responsibly.