Nov 24, 2006

Wansoy and Kinchay

It's almost Christmas, yikes! And while I'm gaining headway in the gift-shopping and home decorating department, I realized I have quite a number of unpublished posts, dating as far back as Easter (For shame!). It's time to put them out before they become hopelessly outdated and/or worse, I forget what I did with them in the first place. (Memory gap. Ehem.)

Let me start clearing them out with this: a treatise on how to tell between Wansoy and Kinchay. Profound, no? Hahaha.

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At first glance the bunches of greens above would look the same to you. They're so similar you'd mistake one for the other. Many people actually think they're one and the same. In fact, I've been hard-pressed to find references distinguishing the two. Many sites refer to them as originating from Coriandrum sativum, and as I am not a botanist, nay, not even a farmer, I will not try to refute that.

However, my taste buds say the two are different. And so here goes what probably is the first ever article on the difference between Kinchay and Wansoy. Aren't you honored to be reading it? Hehehe.

First off, a pop quiz: which of the two bunches above is Wansoy? Left, or right?

If you said Left, engk! Wrong answer.

A year ago someone in the SM Supermarket at Festival Mall mislabeled their Wansoy as Kinchay. As I didn't know any better back then I bought a bunch and used it in my pancit, to disastrous results. I wanted aroma and tang and I got both, but the different, weird kind. (Quite like using wasabe instead of siling labuyo to spice up your Ginataang Alimasag or Bicol Express. That weird.)

Wansoy (Coriander) is an herb commonly used in Thai cooking. If you've had Tom Yum or Thai Spring Rolls you've probably tasted its unique spicy-sweetish blend, and it's what gives Thai Curry a distinct flavor. Of the two, it is more pungent. (Some even dislike its smell, which they say resemble that of squished bedbugs. Shush.)

Kinchay (Cilantro/Chinese Parsley) on the other hand is a common feature in Chinese cooking, and is more citrusy in aroma. Break off a little piece of its stalk and you'd note that the smell resembles that of celery. If you've had Lumpiang Shanghai or Chopsuey you'd have probably tasted the spice that's uniquely Kinchay.

So, that's it. One way to tell is by smell. After the SM fiasco I stopped relying on labels and started holding the bunches to my nose to smell the roots. I no longer get funny tasting pancit, just funny looks from other shoppers. :)

Anyhow, if you prefer not to look weird when you shop, then take note of the differences in the shape, size and grooves of these leaves:


Kinchay has bigger but narrower leaves, and less grooves on its leaf blade. As you can see, Wansoy looks a little like grown versions of parsley, and a baby version of Celery. So if you're in the greens section and are unsure whether it's Kinchay or Wansoy you're looking at, try to find some parsley and/or celery and compare.

Put side by side they look something like a His and Hers watch. What do you think? :)

63 comments:

NoCalbotanist said...

Wansoy is coriander which is also commonly called cilantro in North America. Sometimes called Chinese parsley or Mexican Parsley in some parts of the US. It's also called Dhania in India. Its scientific name is Coriandrum sativum.

Kinchay is not cilantro and not chinese parsley. It's flat leaf parsley also known as Italian parsley in North America. They use that term to distinguish it from the curly variety. It's scientific name is P. neapolitanum.

Scribbles of an Event Planner said...

wow.. this is getting more confusing ha.

summer said...

wow...

this is getting confusing ha

Anonymous said...

kinchay is flat leaf parsley
wansoy is:
a. cilantro (herb)
b. coriander (seed/spice)
hope this helps

Jorge said...

It is really hard to tell the difference between Kinchay and Wansoy. Much of what is commented is useful for botanists but not for amateur cooks like me. I had a hard time describing the difference to my wife when she went out shooping. Perhaps they should include a bit of botany in cooking classes...well, I tell the difference only by it its smell. When you pinch a leaf, wansoy gives out a sweet aroma while kinchay gives a pungent smell. I use wansoy for cooking phad thai and kinchay for lumpiang shanghai. Perhaps in the future we could have computers that smells and sends out odors through the internet. Would you like to have one of those?

anneski:) said...

Haha, I would, Jorge! We share the same sentiment. That's why I blogged about Wansoy and Kinchay in the first place. They look very similar and the way I tell them apart is by the smell.

bambi said...

This is similar to the bibi and itik discussion I had with a friend:-)

bambi said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
orb_horticulturist said...

I tried searching the web for kinchay and found out that it is in fact a cultivar of celery (Apium graveolens L. var. secalinum). It is called asian celery and it is slimmer and stronger smelling (and more flavorful) than the common stalk celery. It's usually used in Chinese and Thai cuisine. Here's the link to the United States Department of Agriculture Genetic Resources Information Network: http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/taxon.pl?409366

Hope this clears it out.

Anonymous said...

i've been looking for kinchay. I came across Par-cel which is a cross between parsley and celery. So would this be the same as kinchay?

anneski:) said...

I don't think so. Although I've never seen any Par-cel. Please check the picture above and compare Par-cel to the picture of Kinchay.

Anonymous said...

I need to buy a parsley. is there any tagalog term for parsley? I am confused with parsley and kinchay are these the same?

anneski:) said...

No, they're not. Kinchay has bigger leaves and tastes very differently from parsley.

I'm sorry but I don't know the tagalog term for parsley. However, you would find it in most large supermarkets like SM, Shopwise, South and Robinsons, in the produce section. The price tag usually has the name of the item so you can check which is parsley.

Hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

While helping my boyfriend preparing the ingredients of the stir-fried lapulapu, i noticed the smell of wansoy and asked if what is the name of it...its not kinchay right?(cause I can't tell, all i know its kinchay!) and he told me its its wansoy, thats the first time i've ever heard, smell and tastes it after the cooking. Great in cooking fishes in replacement of ginger if u can't use one.

-c-h-i-e said...

I was writing a blog about cilantro when I bumped into yours. Good thoughts, but "kinchay" (Kan Choy in chinese) is actually Chinese Celery and "Wansoy" is Cilantro, Chinese Parsley (very different from Italian parsley). The seeds of "Wansoy" or Cilantro is called Coriander and used as spice.

edward said...

I always include kinchay in my pansit recipe because I like the smell and the taste. For health benefits read http://www.healthandwealthtopic.com/2007/09/why-parsley-or-kinchay-is-beneficial-to.html

Anonymous said...

Hi,
I need to know who are the producers of kinchay. I'm a vegetable dealer.

thank - anonymous

kaffirgirl said...

Where can I get seeds of wansuy and kinchay? I've been trying to find them for years. Would sincerely appreciate your help!

kaffirgirl@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

I always inspired by you, your opinion and attitude, again, thanks for this nice post.

- Murk

Vangie said...

This has been very helpful. =) Thanks a lot!

Dark said...

I've encountered this same mislabeling you did, but not at SM Festival Mall (but i'm pretty sure it was SM, hahaha). Thanks for this blog, I'm going to do the sniff test from now on, nevermind the curious looks from other shoppers. ;)

Ricky So said...

I can differentiate wansoy from kinchay. Though I don't know the english translation of both leaves. So this is very helpful! thanks. :D

Anonymous said...

Thank you for blogging on the difference of Wansoy and Kinchay. Now I know that the "surot" smelling salad that my mom used to make (with tomatoes and onions) is actually wansoy.

sarski said...

hi! i got confused with your english translations for kinchay and wansoy. i agree with -c-h-i-e that cilantro/chinese parsley and coriander are different parts of the same plant, although i didn't know cilantro is also called chinese parsley. i do agree with you that the coriander leaves (cilantro) are common in thai dishes because of its pungent aroma.

when i was asking my mom what to put in the broth for pancit molo, she told i have to put kinchay on it. based on the little experience i have accompanying her to the public market in my younger years, i would somehow recognize kinchay by smell -- similar to celery, but not by looks.

as for wansoy (i didn't know we call it that back home as i wasn't very familiar with it), i can probably identify it by looks -- they have prettier-looking leaves in my opinion, and there is an indentation (i don't know what's the botanical term for this) along the stalk where the leaves are clumped together.

regarding the pancit molo, i ended up putting in italian parsley in the broth since i didn't have kinchay on hand. apparently, the product didn't really taste like pancit molo.. more like a cross between chicken tinola and pho :P

Anonymous said...

Hi, as of smell and appereance: wansoy has a distinct smell, if your familiar of thai foods then you got wansuy.wansoy/chinese parsley has a smooth soft leaves and stalks.

kinsay is more likely the small version of celery in terms of appearance and smell. it is celery like smell but more thinner and firm stalks, greener leaves.

parsley on the other hand esp the flats ones can be misleading in appearance.

but they are all different in taste !
if your not sure of the smell, tasting is the best judge!

Pinkheart said...

Thank you for your post. I cooked pansit earlier and used wansoy thinking it was kinchay. Good thing, I know how kinchay smells like and I said to myself, I don't think this is kinchay. So I read the label and it showed wansoy. Oops! I got a very heady feeling after smelling the wansoy. Good thing, I only put a very, very, very small amount in the pansit. Next time, I'll read the label and smell the herb for good measure. :)

Jeng said...

I am about to cook something that calls for Chinese parsley roots in the recipe. I was searching the web for the Tagalog term for Chinese parsley when I came across your blog. Not knowing how Kinchay nor Wansoy smells like, I will go to the supermarket tomorrow to compare the size of the leaves. I will think then of King for kinchay (bigget leaves) then 'bunsoy' for wansoy (smaller leaves)so I can buy the right leaf....and get the root! Thanks for the info!

Greg said...

Wow. I'm surprised this discussion has lasted for so long. I was just trying to figure out the English for Kinchay as Kris Aquino couldn't remember it on her show, and I found this blog.

I used to be a chef, so let me try to clear up the issue:

Kinchay is flat leaf parsley (Petroselinum crispum). As has been said earlier, here, it is also called Italian parsley, sometimes called Garden Parsley. It has a fresh, crisp, but mild aroma, and slightly bitter and grassy flavour.

Some parsley is cultivated to grow thick roots, that resemble parsnips.

Wansoy is Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum). Often called Coriander in the US and Europe. Sometimes called Chinese Parsley, even though it is not a parsley, at all. It has a strong musty aroma, and the taste is a bit difficult to describe but maintains that mustiness with a slightly sweet and citrus-like undertone. The seeds, roots and leaves/stems have slightly different tastes, the seeds (actually the fruit) being a little more citrus and much less 'musty', and the roots being a bit stronger and more musty.

Cilantro is often confused with Culantro (Eryngium foetidum L.). Both the aroma and taste are similar but much stronger than Cilantro. It is more volatile and less frequently seen in the grocery.

I am not certain what bunsoy is. But, if it's an herb, I'll say on a guess that it may be Culantro.

Anonymous said...

just pull out a leaf and taste it. if it tastes like a cockroach, it's wansoy. if not, it's kinchay. :)

anneski:) said...

Thank you everybody for the passionate participation. I didn't realize this post would generate such interest!

Thank you to all those who shared tips and info.

@Anonymous, that was a funny comment. (You meant it a joke, right?) I'm not sure I would actually know that it tastes like cockroach when I have not (and do not have plans to) actually tasted or eaten a cockroach. :)

Anonymous said...

To Greg: kinchay is not Italian parsley. Kinchay, sometimes called Kunchoy, is Chinese celery, with botanical name Apium Graveolens. Italian parsley, or flat-leaf parsley, refers to Petroselinum Hortense. Kinchay is closer related to European celery but with much thinner stalks and tastes a lot stronger. The colour of kinchay can range from pale to dark green while Italian parsley is usually green. Kinchay grows much taller, pretty much like gigantic Italian parsley. The thin stalks of kinchay are usually hollow and crispy.

As for the cilantro and culantro, other than the taste, I have no idea why they will be confused. Cilantro got feathery leaves while culantro leaves looked like baby celtuce. That's why it sometimes called long coriander. It's more commonly used in southeast Asian cooking. It's less well known in other parts of Asia.

MsCongeniality said...

i differentiate them by their smell. wansoy has its distinctive smell, unmistakably wansoy talaga. kinchay does not have that strong distinctive smell. just sharing.. :)

Joanna said...

I bought the wrong ingredient. :( In hypermarket, the wansoys are mixed with the kinchays so i thought they were the same. Ugggghhhh. :|

Anonymous said...

It would be most helpful if the blogger edits the information in this entry to reflect what many of the comments have said re: wansuy being coriander (seeds/spice) or cilantro (leaves) and kinchay being Chinese celery. I've checked and my research shows that a lot of the comments here are correct.

Thanks to this blog, a lot of people know the difference between kinchay and wansuy. But I do believe that a quick edit of the misinformation in the entry will add greatly to its value as a resource post. :-) Still, thanks for the post!

Richard :D said...

I get it! :))) (tnx to wisegeek.com and Jamie Oliver ^^) F.Y.I. :)))... Coriander and Cilantro are the same... Cilantro is just the Latin American name of Coriander... So it's the same :). Coriander/Cilantro is the one really used for cooking. Coriander/Cilantro is WANSOY in Tagalog. While Parsley, the one used also for cooking but MAINLY for garnishings, is KINCHAY in Tagalog. It's just confusing because Coriander/Cilantro is quite same-looking with Parsley. But take note that Coriander/Cilantro IS NOT the same with Parsley. :)))

SUMMARY:
CORIANDER/CILANTRO ---> WANSOY
PARSLEY ---> KINCHAY

Confusion done! :)))

Anonymous said...

I eat a lot of wansoy. Combine it with sliced tomatoes and a little patis--it's super for any fish paksiw or pangat!

Anonymous said...

looking for kinchay in some of the groceries here in norway but cudnt find one :( they have this parsley which has flat leaf that looks like almost celery..and they labeled it as parsley-flat leaf, i've tasted it but it doesnt have that 'distinctive' smell and taste that im looking for :( i wonder if kinchay grows here.. really need kinchay for chop suey and lumpiang shanghai hayyz..
-HnM

anneski:) said...

Hi HnM, celery (not the parsley-flat leaf which I believe is wansoy) has the closest taste to kinchay. If you're really hankering for lumpiang shanghai and chopsuey, I suggest you use celery in the absence of Kinchay.

Anonymous said...

Well London Olympics just been over.Came up reading all above comments and instantly transformed me into a coriander-parsley expert to my great appreciation.Guys all your comments inluding some joke inceptions are wonderful.I'm here adding a tail if not another stalk to our blog topic as recently I just threw away 2 kilograms of parsley seeds.didnt know what to do as i couldnt control growing everywhere in our back ang front yards.Yes these lovely plants have turned imto weeds.Just read that someone needs seeds and i couldnt refrain smiling...Vould have shared the see

Anonymous said...

hello ann, thank you for this info. it really helps a lot especially for an amateur cook like me :)
Now, I dont wonder why my food taste different sometimes ;)

Jennie Lynn Peña said...

Confusing but cleared a lot about wansoy and kinchay. As in foreign cooking shows— they use a lot of flat leaf parsley or Italian parsley for garnish and toppings. I've always wondered where to get Italian parsley only to learn that it's only kinchay! Thanks for this info!

Anonymous said...

one way of distinguishing wansuy from kinchay is wansuy's leaves are quit curled on the ends, and if youb crumpled a leaf, you wont want to smell it ( well...to most people, i guess) . kinchay on the otherhand have flatter and sometimes bigger leaves than wansuy, kinchay's aroma is somewhat the same as that of a clery only sharper, thats why we could use kinchay as an adjunct to celery in pansits or soups.

Anonymous said...

one way of distinguishing wansuy from kinchay is wansuy's leaves are quit curled on the ends, and if youb crumpled a leaf, you wont want to smell it ( well...to most people, i guess) . kinchay on the otherhand have flatter and sometimes bigger leaves than wansuy, kinchay's aroma is somewhat the same as that of a clery only sharper, thats why we could use kinchay as an adjunct to celery in pansits or soups.

Lulu said...

I understand that cilantro and coriander are the same. Cilantro is the Spanish name and coriander is a derivative from the Latin name. I think wansoy is how the Chinese call it.

I love both kinchay and wansoy! I have somehow learned how to differentiate them in the supermarket but I don't take chances. I still look at the label.
Cheers!

Anonymous said...

I knew about wansoy being a coriander or cilantro. But, all this time I thought kinchay is celery because of the smell and taste... hmm, still confused with that part.

JL said...

Hi. This comment might not be related to your blog article but I would just like to inform you that while googling the difference between a wansoy from a kinchay I happened to see a "similar" article to your blog (http://redvalencia.wordpress.com/2012/03/20/know-the-difference-between-kinchay-and-wansoy/). The same picture was even used. I thought you might need a heads up. Anyway, nice article. Very enlightening indeed! :)

anneski:) said...

Tsk, tsk! Just been to the site and saw my picture. Thanks, JL for the heads up.

JL said...

You're welcome! :)

Anonymous said...

here in china, i get a lot of wansuy lol though i am not a fan of this herb, it sure has a lot of medicinal values. it has a pungent quite like a squashed roach smell (yikes) but it does bring out a good flavor in thai and chinese and even korean and other asian dishes. i like kinchay a lot and i couldn't find it here. these two have different smells and kinchay's leaves are bigger.

Paula Isabel Decano said...

cilantro and coriander is the same...just diff. use in some countries...usually coriander is when they use the seed as spice and cilantro for the leaves, the tagalog term for them is wansoy. kinchay is a diff. herb, it's italian parsley which is actually also smelly. it would've been more nice if you include uses and taste more refinely.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate what you are trying to do but may i suggest that be sure first of the information that you are sharing as it further confused those who are already have no idea of the difference between the two.

RSFernandez said...

meanwhile, I found this blog on the same topic dated March 20, 2012. Unless you are one and the same person, I find it disgusting that this blog just changed your blog's sentence structure and made no clear effort to cite yours.

http://redvalencia.wordpress.com/2012/03/20/know-the-difference-between-kinchay-and-wansoy/

RSFernandez said...

Oh, JL already passed the info. Sorry haha!

Scarlet Ferrero said...

Thanks for this article.
They still confuse me, though. I always use Wansoy when I serve raw, and Kinchay when I cook. Still, I never knew which of them is Cilantro or Coriander. :)

Thanks for differentiating their appearances. They're kinda hard to distinguish until you smell them.

Lalaine Lauayan said...

Coriander - the seed of cilantro which is a bit spicy.
Cilantro - the herb or leaf from coriander, the one use in make guacamole and salsa.
Parsely - has varieties, don't get confused by the flat one that looks like cilantro.
Celery - kinchay in tagalog, the one use in pancit.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

they look the same..kinchay smells same as celery.. if it doesn't. it is not kinchay.. its most probably a wansoy...

Joleine Paterno said...

they smell different.love wansoy more than kinchay..wansoy is good with nachos too.

Joleine Paterno said...

i love wansoy! it is good with nachos too

misis.estante said...

So, what do you use for making salsa if the recipe calls for Parsley/Cilantro? Sorry, I got confused...I would appreciate your help! Thanks!!!

anneski:) said...

Thank you for your concern. As you probably noticed, there has been quite an argument as to the scientific and layman terms for kinchay and wansoy, and for me to say one is correct and one isn't, is to open up the floor for more argument, when the goal of the post is to help people tell them apart not through NAMES but through SMELL and APPEARANCE.

anneski:) said...

I AM SURE. Who said I wasn't? The aim of this post wasn't to pretend that I'm a botanist by giving the right scientific name, neither as a chef by giving what dishes they're commonly used in, but rather to point out differences in appearance and smell that could help people tell them apart. As many of commenters here have said my post helped them do just that, I think I've achieved what I set out to do and that's all I care about.

anneski:) said...

Hi! Sorry this is almost 2 months late, I hope you were able to make your salsa despite.

Anyhow, personally I use wansoy when the recipe calls for cilantro/coriander. Based on taste I think it's the herb used in salsa.

Parsley is different from flat leaf parsley which IMHO is kinchay. Unfortunately I can't put a picture in this reply to help you distinguish parsley from kinchay. However, in most supermarkets and wet markets they are placed away from the other and so you can tell them apart. The grocers/stall vendors can also help you distinguish them.

Although again, for salsa, I'd use wansoy.