One day, my daughter and I visited Pho Rose – a Vietnamese restaurant. After thinking for a moment, she ordered an eye-catching dish called poached chicken salad.
At first, I thought this dish was nothing special. But, its taste did surprise me a lot. It was not like anything that I’ve eaten before. The spicy flavor that stays on the tip of the tongue. The strong but pleasant smell that storms into the nose. All are unbelievable!
And I noticed that this incredible taste came from an unknown type of leaf. So, I asked the waiter what it was. “Vietnamese coriander leaf,” she said. Well, I remembered hearing this name somewhere.
So, I immediately surfed my phone for every information about this plant. Where does it come from? How does it look like? Where can I buy it? How can I grow it in my garden?
And if you also have lots of questions like me, read this detailed article below to learn all about this distinctive herb. You’ll find how interesting it is.
- An Overview of Vietnamese Coriander
- How to Grow Vietnamese Coriander in Your Garden
- Best Dishes with Vietnamese Coriander
- Some Common Notions when Using Vietnamese Coriander
- All Things Considered
An Overview of Vietnamese Coriander
The scientific name of this plant is Persicaria odorata. It also has numerous other names such as Vietnamese mint, Vietnamese cilantro, Cambodian mint, hot mint, laksa leaf, phak phai, and many more. In Vietnam, people often call it rau ram (rau răm).
The reason why this herb has so many names involving the country of Vietnam is that it’s an essential part of Vietnamese cuisine. And the funny thing is that although the plant has the word “mint” in its name, it has nothing to do with mint. It only tastes and looks similar to mint.
Vietnamese coriander is a small herbaceous plant with pointed leaves. Its leaves grow alternately on the stem. The leaves have light green or purple color and sometimes have a unique U-shaped marking in burgundy. And there are tiny hairs on the edge and ribs of the leaves.
Under the best conditions, the plant can reach up to 30 centimeters tall. And when it’s mature enough, it starts to bloom and fruit. The lovely flowers grow in bunches on the top of the stem. They are commonly white, but some varieties have pink or purple flowers.
Vietnamese coriander is a perennial plant that appears most in the tropical and subtropical regions. In its homeland, you can either find coriander in the wild or on farms.
This plant grows best in full sun, well-drained soil, and moist climate. However, too much water may kill it. Also, Vietnamese coriander cannot survive when the weather is too cold or too hot.
But you can still raise it in the frigid zones like Europe. Just leave it outside to enjoy the sun in the summer and grow it inside your house in the winter. Nothing is impossible!
Medicinal Ingredients and Savor
The whole plant contains a pale yellow oil giving off a fresh and pleasant aroma. The main components of the oil include alkane aldehydes. In total, about 50 different substances are available inside the plant.
Vietnamese coriander has an exceptionally pungent spicy taste. When eating this herb, you will feel a slight warmth from your throat down to your belly. However, overeating rau ram may produce too much heat in your body.
Uses of the Plant
In cooking, people commonly use this herb as an ideal spice. Its excellent taste and fragrance dramatically enhance the flavor of the food. Therefore, you may usually come across Vietnamese coriander in numerous Asian dishes, especially those that come from the Southeast.
The fascinating thing about this herb is that it’s also a popular oriental medicine. The Asians have been using Vietnamese coriander to treat various diseases for hundreds of years. To learn more about the magical health benefits of this herb, read through my article here.
And if you have loved this plant so much, now you may want to have it in your herb garden immediately. Well, here’s my guide for you.
How to Grow Vietnamese Coriander in Your Garden
Below are all the steps needed to raise the unique Vietnamese coriander successfully. Stick to my guide because you won’t want to miss anything.
Step 1: Choose the Methods of Planting
Some possible ways to plant Vietnamese coriander are using a seedling tree, seeds, or cuttings. Growing with the cutting stems is the most common one as it’s low-cost and straightforward. Meanwhile, seed-planting is ideal for skillful gardeners.
Also, choose a perfect place to grow your herb. Make sure that the Vietnamese coriander will thrive best in that place. Here’s my advice: look for somewhere with enough light and moisture for the best result.
Step 2: Prepare Everything
Now it’s time for preparations. The first thing to concern is the weather. Don’t plant your Vietnamese coriander in winter or autumn. Instead, start planting at the beginning of spring or summer.
When the perfect time comes, the next thing to do is prepare the soil. You should mix some fertilizers with the soil before planting. Choose the compost that provides the best condition for the Vietnamese coriander to thrive.
Now that everything is ready, start planting in correspondence with the methods of growing that you chose at first.
Step 3: Take Care of Your Plant
Remember to keep the soil damp by watering your herb at least twice a day. And more times are needed when the weather is hotter. Always pay attention to the state of the soil to make sure that the coriander doesn’t lack water as well as being over-watered.
Besides, the plant also needs periodic fertilization. Feed your herb no more than twice a month. This frequency will help the tree thrive while retaining its distinctive flavor.
Step 4: Harvest Your Herb
Usually, it takes only a month for the Vietnamese coriander to mature. You should collect your plant when the soil is dry. And you can freely choose the way to harvest it depending on which part and how much you need.
Did you manage to raise your Vietnamese coriander? If you still need more instructions as well as some tips and cautions for planting, check out my detailed article here.
Now, do you love the unique taste of Vietnamese coriander but don’t know how to cook it? Let’s find out some brilliant uses of this herb for your meals!
Best Dishes with Vietnamese Coriander
As I said earlier, Vietnamese coriander is a remarkable spice for many dishes. So, I will introduce to you 6 best recipes using this extraordinary herb.
The next time you visit Southeast Asia countries, don’t forget to enjoy these dishes. But if you can’t wait any longer, try making them yourself right now and surprise your family.
Balut with Vietnamese Coriander
Let’s start with the most popular dish with Vietnamese coriander: Balut. It’s a boiled duck egg with developing bird embryo inside. If you have been to the Philippines, I bet you would have known about this unique dish.
And here’s an interesting fact:
This dish is listed in the top 10 weird food delicacies in the world. Therefore, no wonder that so many people screamed and frightened when they saw the baby bird.
But its taste is incredibly fantastic. Don’t let its appearance fool you because you won’t want to regret not tasting it! Trust me! I had refused to eat it many times until one day, I finally had enough courage to try it. And now I’m addicted to the dish!
Also, the recipe for this exceptional dish is straightforward. Just boil the egg with some ginger and then serve it with salt, pepper, chili. And of course, don’t forget the rau ram. They are a perfect match from heaven!
Fried Snails with Vietnamese Coriander
This dish is another specialty of Southeast Asia, especially the coastal region. It would be a waste if you visit these countries without trying various snail dishes.
Dear readers, you’ll soon be amazed by hundreds of different types of snails available on the menu. The snails on the picture above are the sweet snails. Some other edible snails are conchs, abalone, whelks, periwinkles, and many more.
There are numerous ways to cook these sea snails. The most common dish that you can easily find in street vendors is snail fried with lemongrass and chili. And Vietnamese coriander is a delicious touch to the plate. You can either have it cooked with the snails or eat raw as a spiced vegetable.
Poached Chicken Salad with Vietnamese Coriander
Remember that I mentioned this dish at the beginning of the article? It’s just a simple appetizer. You can easily enjoy it in any Vietnamese restaurant. But its flavor will surprise you. Don’t believe it? Make the dish at home and feel the mouth-watering flavor yourself.
Begin with boiling the chicken breast with some ginger and then tearing it into small pieces. Now prepare the sauce, including lemon juice, fish sauce, chili, sugar, minced garlic, and a little water.
Next, add slices of lemon leaves, carrots, and onions into the chicken, along with Vietnamese coriander leaves. And finally, mix all of them with the dressing.
Tada, a light chicken salad that is sweet, sour, and spicy as well!
Chicken Cook with Sauce and Vietnamese Coriander
Here’s another dish with chicken. Cooking with sauce is a well-known practice of Vietnamese cuisine. And Vietnamese coriander also takes part in this tradition.
Firstly, marinate the chicken with fish sauce, onion, and chili for about 30 minutes. Then, cook the chicken with coconut water until there is a little sauce left. Add the Vietnamese coriander, mix them, and serve.
The rich flavor blending with the exceptional fragrance will be the star of the meal!
Mango and Vietnamese Coriander
Feeling hungry but it’s not dinner time yet? Try out this splendid vegetable salad!
The ingredients you need are mango, cucumber, chili, onion, carrot, and of course, Vietnamese coriander. Slice all the ingredients. Add some fish sauce, sugar, and then mix them up. You can also add some peanuts and fried onions on the top and enjoy.
A few seconds spent to ease your hunger and also freshen your throat!
Sandworm Omelet with Vietnamese Coriander
Now I will introduce to you a stunning dish that is most common in Hanoi, the beautiful capital city of Vietnam. This one is called sandworm omelet.
Since the worm is only available in autumn, this dish is considered a lucky symbol. Therefore, to Vietnamese people, it’s a valuable course to treat their guests.
The dish is made from live sandworms and raw eggs with several spices, including Vietnamese coriander. The recipe is quite complicated, but keep practicing, and you will succeed in no time.
First, here are the ingredients needed to make this exceptional dish:
- 500g of sandworms
- 1 duck egg or 2 chicken eggs
- 200g of pork shoulder
- 15g of mandarin peel
- 1 handful of ginger leaves
- Onion, fennel, and Vietnamese coriander (the amount is based on your interest)
Now start with cleaning the worms then putting them into hot water at about 75 °C to remove their tentacles. Next, slice all the spices. Then, mix them with worms, pork, and eggs. Add some fish sauce for better flavor. After that, fry the mixture until the surface is crispy brown and it’s ready to serve.
Here’s a small tip. People usually freeze the sandworms so that they can cook this dish the whole year round. However, it’s best to have fresh worms which you can find in the mangroves of Hai Phong.
Laksa Soup with Vietnamese Coriander
Going to spend a vacation in Malaysia or Singapore? If so, laksa is a must-try dish. And Vietnamese coriander is an essential component of this recipe. That’s why the plant also has the name “laksa leaf”.
Laksa is a spicy noodle soup that is served with chicken, prawn, or fish over wheat noodles. Asian people rely on the soup base to distinguish different types of laksa. The two most common types are curry laksa with coconut-based soup and asam laksa with tamarind-based soup.
Is this dish hard to cook? Well, honestly, I found it not simple at all. But after a few tries, I finally managed. And if I can make it, so do you.
So, how to cook the dish? First, prepare the laksa paste, including garlic, ginger, lemongrass, chilies, turmeric starch, and coriander roots. Add some fish sauce, cumin, palm sugar, and grounded Vietnamese coriander. Then, cook at medium heat until the paste has a pleasant smell.
Now, if you want to have a curry laksa, boil the soup with coconut milk. And if you prefer the sour asam laksa, add the tamarind or other similar ingredients. For the meat, you can choose the shredded chicken or fish. Asam laksa goes well with fish while the coconut curry laksa tastes better with chicken.
Finally, serve it over the noodles with coriander, basil, chili, and onion on top and enjoy. I hope you will have a great time cooking!
Some Common Notions when Using Vietnamese Coriander
Vietnamese coriander is not only an incredible spice and cure, but there are also some fascinating beliefs about this herb. Although these beliefs have no proof, they had become a part of the tradition of Southeast Asia in general and Vietnam in particular.
Follow me if you want to learn more about the distinctive culture of these countries.
Repressing Sexual Urges
Here’s a peculiar conception about the usage of Vietnamese coriander. The Vietnamese people believe that this herb can reduce sexual desire while bean sprouts can increase it. And that’s why they have a saying: “rau răm, giá sống.” (“Vietnamese coriander, raw bean sprouts”)
There are no scientific studies on this unusual effect of Vietnamese coriander. But it has been a common practice of the people when using this herb to control their libido.
So, don’t be surprised if you see numerous of this herb planted in most of the pagodas in Vietnam. For years, the Buddhist monks have eaten this tree regularly to achieve a tranquil soul.
Increasing the Amount of Breast Milk
This one is an astounding traditional tip when raising babies. Many nursing moms use Vietnamese coriander to help them produce more milk for their child.
Also, the effect of this method remains unknown. Some mothers said it was useless, but others noticed significant improvements. I cannot promise that this practice will work for you, but it’s still worth a try. So, let’s learn it!
The method is simple. Boil about two handfuls of Vietnamese coriander leaves. Let it cool down for a bit but still warm. Now cover the leaves upon the breasts for about 20 to 30 minutes. And let’s see how effective it is!
All Things Considered
Those are everything about Vietnamese coriander that I want to share with you. Now you can see that this herb is exceptionally incredible.
You can serve it with many dishes and enjoy the spicy taste along with a unique fragrance. You can also use it to solve various problems. Or plant it in your garden for more delightful green and freshness. So many exciting things to do with this herb that you can’t even imagine!
If you love it as much as I do, like and share my article so that there will be more fans of this herb, and don’t forget to leave a comment below if you know other fascinating stories about Vietnamese coriander. I would be glad to learn more about it.