The Kalu Yala Blog

Panamanian Culantro, Part 1

August 18, 2010

by Abraham Segovia
Posted In: Farm to Table Living

Chicken Roulettes and Culantro Pico de Gallo

Last week when I informed the interns that I would be trying to make culantro the star of my next meal, some of them weren’t happy to say the least.  Apparently there are people that don’t like cilantro and make the stupid assumption that they will never like culantro. I wasn’t going to allow the soon-to-be intern alumni to leave my beautiful Panama without at least attempting to change their mind.

In all honesty, I went a little overboard with this week’s meal, so I’ll have to divide it into two separate blog posts.

I’ll start with Chicken Roulettes and Culantro Pico de Gallo… Hope you like it.

Chicken Roulettes stuffed with Serrano ham, pepper jack cheese and cilantro sauce


** You can use more depending on how much cilantro taste you want.


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Now take your chicken and either: use them as is, or butterfly them
  3. Wrap chicken breasts with plastic and gently pound until they are ¼” thick. Typically done with a meat mallet, but the flat side of a heavy pan will do
  4. Season chicken with 1 cup cilantro, salt, pepper and 2 finely chopped garlic cloves
  5. In food processor, blend 2 cups of cilantro, 3 garlic cloves, basil, salt and pepper to taste.  Move to saucepan with melting butter on medium high, bring to boil. Reduce to simmer and run through processor one again.
  6. Lay flat chicken pieces on a plate. Top with layer of Serrano ham, cheese, and cilantro sauce.  Leave a good ½” corner of chicken clear, as this will help the chicken stay wrapped in place.dsc_0458_0
  7. Roll chicken as tight as possible. Take your time during this part, it’s hard at first, but it will get easier.dsc_0463
  8. Set up an assembly line on your kitchen counter. On the first plate put a few handfuls of flour seasoned with salt and pepper to taste. On the second plate put two beaten eggs. On the third plate put seasoned breadcrumbs. You can buy them seasoned or you can season them yourself.
  9. In a saucepan, melt the remaning butter with remaining finely chopped cilantro. Add this to the breadcrumbs and mix well. dsc_0465
  10. Now to cover the chicken: roll in the flour, dip in the beaten eggs, then cover it with breadcrumbs. Repeat this process with each roll. Place them in a non-stick oven safe tray.
  11. Put in oven and cook for 20 – 25 minutes.  Take out of oven and let it rest for a couple of minutesimg_0035

Culantro Pico de Gallo



  1. Put all ingredients together in bowl.
  2. Squeeze in the lemon.
  3. Set in fridge for 20 minutes.
  4. Serve on top of crispy fried plantains, patacones.  If you don’t recall how to make them, check out a past cooking blog post of mine, Plantain Recipes 1: Lentils and Patacones.img_0041img_0040

Alana Armstrong will be reviewing this meal but you’ll have to wait for her thoughts as I don’t want her spilling any secrets about the other dishes I prepared for this meal! Stay tuned!

6 Responses to “Panamanian Culantro, Part 1”

  1. Kate says:

    Looks delicious as always!

  2. thania says:

    look good you really do well congratulation your cooking skill are progressive

  3. Kimberly says:

    I am definitely going to have to try this chicken recipe!

  4. [...] week I’ll be finishing the cilantro (culantro in Spanish) meal from last week. I have two more recipes for you guys: Culantro Rice and Culantro Chicken with baby bella [...]

  5. Foy says:

    Yummy! My stomach is rumbling looking at these pictures. My favorite Panama dish was always Pollo Guisado chicken browned and then stewed with onion and the magic combination of the three herbs of Panama. Have you run into theses bunchs at the grocery store called Recado Verde? It’s culantro, cebollina, perejil tied together in a little bundle. So good. Your blog makes me miss Panama!