Food For Four

Vietnamese Herbs

Posted on | October 3, 2013 | Vietnamese Recipes | No Comments

No doubt the most notable element in Vietnamese cuisine is the abundance use of raw fresh herbs. Not only are herbs used to enhance flavours and aromas of a dish, but fresh raw herbs are eaten generously as an accompaniment to foods. A plate of fresh herb leaves and whole sprigs are usually usually served at the table. There are many different ways herbs are used in Vietnamese cuisine: chopped and topped as garnishing, torn and eaten in noodle soups, sliced and tossed in salads, rolled in fresh summer rolls, herb leaves layered together and used as a wrap in meat dishes.

Below are some of the herbs found in Vietnamese cuisine.

Coriander / Cilantro (Ngò)

Coriander - Ngo

Coriander is very fragrant and is easily available at all grocery. A very common herb that is used in Vietnamese dishes, and is usually sliced up and used as garnishing in salads and soups.

Spearmint (Húng Lũi)

Spearmint - Húng Lui

Spearmint is best in salads and on fresh raw herb plate. Mint is commonly available so if you can’t get spearmint then other variety of mint still tastes good.

Thai Basil (Húng Quế)

Hung Que - Thai Basi

This picture is of some cross-variety my dad grew. Thai basil has purple stem and purple bud. It has a liquorice flavour and stronger than your Italian variety. This herb is commonly served in pho as well raw herb plate. If you can’t get Thai basil then use Italian basil.

Vietnamese Mint (Rau Răm)

Vietnamese mint - rau ram
Vietnamese Mint has a unique peppery and lemony flavour. This herb is often in salads (goi ga), balut and bún thang.

Fish Herb / Fish Mint (Diếp Cá)

Vietnamese Fish Mint (Herb) - Diep Ca

Fish Herb has a distinctive heart-shaped leaves, with a strong sour and fish taste. Eaten raw, fish herb is used in grilled meats, fish and noodle soups.

Perilla / Shiso Leaf (Tía Tô)

Vietnamese Perilla - Tia To
Perilla has distinctive leaves with purple colour on top and green underneath. It has a minty and lemony flavour. Commonly used in salads, rice paper rolls, cold vermicelli noodle dishes (bún bò xào, bún chả giò, bun thịt nướng).

Vietnamese Balm (Canh Giơí)

Vietnamese Balm (Mint) - Kinh Gioi

Vietnamese Balm has a mint and lemon citrus flavour. Usually eaten as accompaniment in soups (bún riêu) and on fresh raw herb plate.

Sorrel (Rau Chua)

Sorrel - Rau Chua

Sorrel (Rau Chua) has a very sour taste. Not very common herb but it’s something my parents started growing. Often used in fresh raw herb plate.

Peppermint (Húng Cây)

Peppermint - Húng Cây

Peppermint has a spearminty sweetness. Used in salads and fresh raw herb plate.

Sawtooth (Ngò Gai)

Vietnamese Sawtooth Coriander (Herb) - Ngò Gai

Sawtooth  has an intense coriander taste. This herb is commonly used in pho and sour soup. Only available at Vietnamese grocer.

Rice paddy herb (Ngò om)

Ngo om - Rice paddy herb
Rice paddy herb has small delicate green leaves with a cumin and citrus taste. This herb is a must in sour soup (canh chua) and yam soup (canh khoai mỡ). Only available at Vietnamese grocer.

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