Main Navigation Bar

Quick Guide to Vietnamese Herbs

Herbs add such wonderful aroma, flavor and color to foods that it’s no wonder they’re such integral ingredients in Vietnamese cuisine.  Without the inclusion of certain herbs, a dish could be rendered completely lacking and unappetizing.  Can you imagine having Vietnamese Chicken or Beef Noodle Soup (Pho) without Thai basil?  Just the aroma of Thai basil conjures to mind a big, piping hot bowl of pho! 🙂  If you’re not familiar with all of the different herbs and their uses in Vietnamese cuisine, I am here to help!  In this post, I’ll go through some of the more popular Vietnamese herbs with some basic descriptions.  Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ve included pictures of each herb to help you identify them when shopping.  Lastly, I’ve provided links to recipes where these herbs are used.  I hope you try all of these herbs and let me know which one is your favorite.  Enjoy!

Check out the video below to learn how to prepare and store herbs.



Cilantro/Coriander (Ngò, Ngò Rí, Rau Mùi)
Cilantro
Appearance:  delicate, lacy leaves, clustered in three’s
Aroma/Taste:  strongly fragrant with mild citrusy taste
Dishes:  Commonly eaten raw, served with other fresh greens as a side dish, Vegetarian Fresh Spring Rolls, Fresh Spring Rolls, Grilled Pork Sandwich, Thick Noodles and Fish Cake Soup

 


Thái Basil (Húng Quế)
Thai Basil
Appearance:  elongated leaves with purple stems and pink-purple flowers
Aroma/Taste:  licorice-like aroma and taste
Dishes:  Vietnamese Chicken Noodle and Beef Noodle Soups (Pho Ga, Pho Bo), Baby Clams and Basil, Papaya with Shrimp and Pork, Savory Rolled Cakes 

 

 

Vietnamese Coriander (Rau Răm)
Vietnamese Coriander Appearance:  long, slender leaves with dark V-shape on each leaf
Aroma/Taste:  aromatic with slightly spicy and peppery taste
Dishes:  Commonly eaten raw, served with other fresh greens as a side dish, Chicken Cabbage Salad, Cured/Fermented Pork, Vermicelli Soup with Chicken, Steamed Pork Roll and Egg

 


Perilla (Tía Tô)
Perilla
Appearance:  large, broad leaves with purple underside
Aroma/Taste:  strong musky aroma and slightly bitter taste
Dishes:  Commonly eaten raw, served with other fresh greens as a side dish, Grilled Pork Patties, Beef Wrapped in Perilla, Sizzling Savory Crepes, and Crab Noodle Soup (Bun Rieu)

 


Garlic Chives (Hẹ)

Garlic ChivesAppearance:  flat, long and slender leaves resembling tall grass
Aroma/Taste:  strong grass and garlicky aroma and taste
Dishes:  Can be eaten raw or cooked, Fresh Spring Rolls, Grilled Pork Sausage Fresh Spring Rolls, Won Ton Noodle Soup, Pickled Bean Sprouts

 


Lemongrass (Xả)

LemongrassAppearance:  long and tapered, light green, fibrous stalks
Aroma/Taste:  strong, citrusy aroma and taste without the acid
Dishes:  Chicken Curry, Beef Stew, Lemongrass Tofu and Rice Noodles, Lemongrass Beef over Rice Noodles, Curry Lemongrass Seitan Stir Fry, Honey Lemongrass Dressing, Asian-Style Beef Short Ribs, Grilled Shrimp, Egg Rolls and Rice Vermicelli, Satay Chili Paste, Grilled Pork Patties and Skewers, Beef Wrapped in Betel Leaves

 

Rice Paddy (Ngổ Ôm)
Rice PaddyAppearance:  small and delicate oval-shaped leaves
Aroma/Taste:  mild citrusy aroma and cumin flavor
Dishes:  Commonly eaten raw, Yampi Soup, Sour Soup, Rare Beef in Lime Juice Salad

 

 

 

Sawtooth (Ngò Gai)
Sawtooth HerbAppearance:  long flat leaves with jagged, serrated edges
Aroma/Taste:  strong cilantro flavor and slightly citrusy taste
Dishes: Commonly eaten raw, Beef Stew, Sour Soup, Rare Beef in Lime Juice Salad

 

 

 

Spicy Mint/Peppermint (Húng Cây)
Spicy MintAppearance: medium-sized, oval-shaped leaves
Aroma/Taste:  minty aroma, spicy taste with cooling sensation
Dishes:  Commonly eaten raw, served with other fresh greens as a side dish, Lemongrass Beef over Rice Noodles, Savory Rolled Cakes 

 

 

Spearmint (Húng Lũi)
SpearmintAppearance:  medium-sized, oval-shaped with curly leaves
Aroma/Taste:  minty aroma and minty and slightly sweet taste
Dishes:  Commonly eaten raw, served with other fresh greens as a side dish, Lemongrass Tofu and Rice Noodles, Lemongrass Beef over Rice Noodles, Sizzling Savory Crepes, Rare Beef in Lime Juice Salad, and Crab Noodle Soup (Bun Rieu)

 


Vietnamese Balm (Kinh Giới)

Vietnamese BalmAppearance:  medium-sized, oval-shaped leaves with serrated edges
Aroma/Taste:  intense aroma that’s a combination of lemon and mint, slightly bitter taste
Dishes:  Commonly eaten raw, served with other fresh greens as a side dish, Grilled Pork Patties, and Crab Noodle Soup (Bun Rieu)

 

 

 

Fish Mint (Diếp Cá)
Fish MintAppearance:  flat, heart-shaped leaves
Aroma/Taste:  strong fishy aroma and slightly citrusy taste
Dishes:  Commonly eaten raw, served with other fresh greens as a side dish

 

 

 

A plate of fresh herbs and vegetables (lettuce, bean sprouts, cucumbers) is often served as a side dish adding flavor, aroma and freshness to every meal!

Assorted Herbs and SaladHerbs and BBQ Pork Skewers

Herbs and Banh Xeo

 

 

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Responses to Quick Guide to Vietnamese Herbs

  1. Anita May 1, 2016 at 6:52 pm #

    I was able to root these herbs in water !

    http://earthlychow.com/delicious-herbs-rau-thom-hail-vietnam-root-free-just-water

    • Trang May 6, 2016 at 6:45 pm #

      Very nice Anita. Thanks for sharing! I’ve rooted a lot of herbs using water too.

Leave a Reply