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 Chicken or Beef Noodle Soup (Pho) without Thai basil? Just the lovely aroma of Thai basil conjures to mind a big, piping hot bowl of pho…yum! 🙂  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!

Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (Pho Bo) - Thai Basil, Sawtooth Herb, Bean Sprouts, Jalapenos, Limes and Red Chilies are essential accompaniments | recipe from runawayrice.com

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




Cilantro/Coriander (Ngò, Ngò Rí, Rau Mùi)
A Guide to Vietnamese Herbs: Cilantro | runawayrice.com
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)
A Guide to Vietnamese Herbs: Thai Basil | runawayrice.com
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, Thai Basil Chicken (Ga Xao La Que) 

 

 

Vietnamese Coriander (Rau Răm)
A Guide to Vietnamese Herbs: Vietnamese Coriander | runawayrice.com 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)
A Guide to Vietnamese Herbs: Perilla | runawayrice.com
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)

A Guide to Vietnamese Herbs: Garlic Chives | runawayrice.comAppearance: 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)

A Guide to Vietnamese Herbs: Lemongrass | runawayrice.comAppearance: long and tapered, light green, fibrous stalks
Aroma/Taste: strong, citrusy aroma and taste without the acid
Dishes: Chicken Curry (Ca Ri Ga), Beef Stew (Bo Kho), 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)
A Guide to Vietnamese Herbs: Rice Paddy | runawayrice.comAppearance: 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)
A Guide to Vietnamese Herbs: Sawtooth Herb | runawayrice.comAppearance: long flat leaves with jagged, serrated edges
Aroma/Taste: strong cilantro flavor and slightly citrusy taste
Dishes: Commonly eaten raw, Beef Noodle Soup (Pho Bo)Beef Stew (Bo Kho), Sour Soup, Rare Beef in Lime Juice Salad

 

 

 

Spicy Mint/Peppermint (Húng Cây)
A Guide to Vietnamese Herbs: Spicy Mint | runawayrice.comAppearance: 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)
A Guide to Vietnamese Herbs: Spearmint | runawayrice.comAppearance: 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)

A Guide to Vietnamese Herbs: Vietnamese Balm | runawayrice.comAppearance: 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)
A Guide to Vietnamese Herbs: Fish Mint | runawayrice.comAppearance: 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.

A Guide to Vietnamese Herbs | runawayrice.com

Assorted Herbs with BBQ Pork Skewers | recipe from runawayrice.com

Assorted Herbs with Sizzling Savory Crepes (Banh Xeo) | recipe from runawayrice.com

 

 

 

 

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4 Responses to Quick Guide to Vietnamese Herbs

  1. Andrew Briggs February 4, 2017 at 1:24 am #

    Hello there,

    Is there anywhere I can buy seeds to grow all the herbs please?

    • Trang February 4, 2017 at 6:34 pm #

      Hi Andrew,
      I don’t know of any one particular place you can buy the seeds for all the herbs. Are you able to buy any of the fresh herbs where you live? Some of the herbs can be grown from just the cut stems.

  2. 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.

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