Fresh Herbs & Spices in Vietnamese Food – Vietnam Coracle – Independent Travel Guides to Vietnam

First revealed August 2022 | Phrases and pictures by means of Thảo Phan

Thảo Phan, Contributing Writer at Vietnam Coracle

Thảo Phan is a contributing creator for Vietnam Coracle. She is these days operating TP Garden, an city lawn trade in Hồ Chí Minh Town, the place her passions & values come in combination to create a wholesome neighborhood & cleaner setting. Initially from Biên Hoa Town, in Đồng Nai Province, she’s spent maximum of her grownup existence residing in Sài Gòn, even supposing she’d a lot relatively be within the nation-state surrounded by means of timber & flora….read more about Thảo


Born and raised in southern Vietnam, I’ve been lucky to have an abundance of unpolluted herbs and spices round me to make use of as garnishes, flavourings or even as primary components in my cooking and meals. Moreover, prior to ‘Western drugs’ was extensively to be had in Vietnam as a quick-fix method to not unusual sicknesses, equivalent to colds, stomachaches and indigestion, native other folks tended to make use of contemporary herbs, spices and different fit to be eaten wild vegetation as ‘people therapies’ or just grew to become them into scrumptious dishes that will make the ‘drugs’ pass down extra simply. Using spices and contemporary herbs is prime to Vietnamese delicacies and tradition.

Fresh herbs & spices in Vietnamese Food

[Back Top]



An Illustrated Information by means of a Gardener & House Prepare dinner

I guess maximum readers may have first encountered Vietnamese delicacies thru its noodle soups, particularly the rustic’s most famed one, phở, and possibly bún bò Huế. What makes those soups so unique in style and aroma is the mix of spices and, within the south, the addition of unpolluted herbs. Inside of my restricted wisdom as a gardener and residential prepare dinner, I am hoping to stroll you thru one of the crucial maximum often used herbs and spices in odd, on a regular basis dishes in Vietnam. Despite the fact that lots of the herbs and spices indexed in this web page are used national, some are extra not unusual in a single area than others because of geographical and cultural variations. Sooner than we dive in, it’s helpful to extensively outline what a part of a plant is thought of as a ‘herb’ or a ‘spice’. In very basic phrases, herbs come from the leafy or inexperienced a part of a plant, and spices come from different portions of the plant, equivalent to seeds, roots, flora, and culmination.

CONTENTS:

1. Spring Onion (hành lá)

2. Coriander (ngò rí)

3. Garlic Chives (hẹ)

4. Dill (thì là)

5. Culantro (ngò gai/mùi tàu)

6. Rice Paddy Herb (ngò om/ngổ)

7. Vietnamese Coriander (rau răm)

8. Thai Basil (húng quế)

9. Perilla Leaf (tía tô)

10. Vietnamese Balm (kinh giới)

11. Wild Mint (húng cây)

12. Mojito Mint (húng lủi)

13. Fish Mint (diếp cá)

14. Garlic (tỏi)

15. Shallot (củ hành tím)

16. Ginger (gừng)

17. Turmeric (nghệ)

18. Galangal (riềng)

19. Lemongrass (sả)

20. Chilli (ớt)

Related Guides


Please Fortify this Website
Vietnam Coracle is 100% impartial & unfastened to learn. There’s no backed content material in any way. When you use & experience this web site, please believe creating a donation or changing into a patron.
Thanks,
Tom


Fresh herbs & spices in Vietnamese Food

[Back to Contents]


1. Spring Onion (hành lá)

Despite the fact that it would possibly not appear specifically unique, spring onion (hành lá) is, personally, essentially the most extensively used herb in Vietnamese cooking. If truth be told, it’s so not unusual that we most often disregard it is a herb. In soups, spring onion is ceaselessly used as a garnish; in stir-fries, it will probably both be an factor (reduce into finger duration items) or a garnish (thinly sliced). Curiously, the white phase (the stem) and the fairway phase (the leaf) are handled another way within the cooking procedure. Very similar to garlic and shallots, in relation to stir-fried dishes, the stems are added after the oil to support each the flavor and aroma of a dish, while the leaves are used later for garnish after cooking. A beneficiant quantity of thinly sliced spring onions and beaten black pepper are ceaselessly scattered in combination on most sensible of scorching soups (canh) or stir-fried dishes (món xào) in addition to shellfish.

Spring onion, Vietnam
Spring onions rising in my lawn in Sai Gon

Spring onion in rice porridge, Vietnam
Spring onions garnishing a bowl of rice porridge

[Back to Contents]


2. Coriander (ngò rí)

Coriander ceaselessly is going hand in hand with spring onions in relation to garnishing a bowl of soup or rice porridge (cháo). Alternatively, whilst spring onion can also be cooked as a vegetable, coriander is most commonly used contemporary, both to garnish a dish or to combine right into a salad to support its flavour and color. Within the southern Vietnam, coriander most often has a larger leaf and longer stem in comparison to its northern model. Alternatively, northern coriander has a more potent perfume. No longer best are the leaves of coriander used as a herb, its seeds additionally make a really perfect spice, and its roots are utilized in making broth to create a more potent style and aroma.

Coriander, Vietnam
Coriander rising in my lawn in Sai Gon

Coriander with bitter melon soup, Vietnam
Coriander garnishing a bowl of sour melon soup

[Back to Contents]


3. Garlic Chives (hẹ)

Not like Ecu chives, that are ceaselessly used as a garnishing herb and feature a gentle onion style, garlic chives have a more potent flavour (they’re garlicky, because the identify suggests) and are ceaselessly used as a vegetable (most commonly within the south) and a herb in Vietnamese dishes. In my eating revel in, chives are thinner and feature extra perfume within the central provinces of Vietnam and are ceaselessly eaten uncooked or utilized in soups as a garnish, while within the south, chives are larger and ceaselessly used as a vegetable. (My favorite adolescence dish was once giá hẹ xào huyết – chives and mung bean sprouts stir-fried with pig blood curd). The chive flower could also be fit to be eaten and has extra flavour than the chive itself. 

Garlic chives, Vietnam
Garlic chives rising in my lawn in Sai Gon

Garlic chives with pork blood cake, Vietnam
Garlic chives garnishing a plate of red meat blood cake & bean sprouts

Garlic chives with noodle soup, Vietnam
Garlic chives garnishing a bowl of noodle soup

[Back to Contents]


4. Dill (thì là)

Certainly one of Hà Nội’s most famed fish dishes – chả cá Lã Vọng – wouldn’t style the similar with out dill. When used as an factor in a seafood dish, dill now not best complements the style but in addition is helping reduce the fishy scent. For some reason why, dill additionally is going truly smartly with tomato in soup and makes it an excellent dish for a wet day. I love the usage of dill in my dishes, particularly when making my two favorite soups canh hến thì là (child clams with dill soup) and canh cà chua trứng thì là (dill and tomato soup with scrambled eggs) which each originated from the north. Alternatively, southern persons are most often now not very keen on dill’s style of their dishes.

See also  Experts back Hanoi bicycle lane proposal
Dill, Vietnam
Dill rising in my lawn in Sai Gon

Dill in a soup, Vietnam
Dill garnishing a bowl of tomato & egg soup

[Back to Contents]


5. Culantro (ngò gai/mùi tàu)

Culantro is often referred to as sawtooth coriander because of the original form of its leaf which resembles the enamel on a two-edged handsaw. That is my favorite herb for canh chua (candy and bitter soup) and canh bí đỏ (pumpkin soup) that are not unusual soups within the south. I really like the perfume of culantro both cooked or eaten uncooked in conjunction with different contemporary herbs. Within the north, culantro is often utilized in canh măng (bamboo shoot soup) which is most often cooked with duck meat or fish. The herb could also be utilized in conventional therapies for fevers and chills, vomiting and diarrhoea. The leaves and roots are boiled and the water under the influence of alcohol to relieve the mucus from a foul, chesty cough.

Culantro, Vietnam
Culantro rising in my lawn in Sai Gon

Culantro with beef stew, Vietnam
Culantro garnishing a bowl of red meat stew

[Back to Contents]


6. Rice Paddy Herb (ngò om/ngổ)

As with spring onion and coriander, rice paddy herb and culantro are ceaselessly used as ‘a pair’. A bowl of southern canh chua (candy and bitter soup) received’t style as just right with out rice paddy herb and culantro. When consuming phở or miến gà (glass noodle rooster soup) you are going to most often be served with a complete basket of rice paddy herb, culantro, and Thai basil. Rice paddy herb could be very fragrant. Alternatively, it additionally has a sour flavour, so one may need to go for culantro in sure dishes the place each herbs are used interchangeably. As an example, I desire to make use of extra rice paddy herb in my canh khoai mỡ (crimson yam soup) whilst others desire culantro.

Rice paddy herb, Vietnam
Rice paddy herb rising in my lawn in Sai Gon

Rice paddy herb, Vietnam
Rice paddy herb is very fragrant, ceaselessly utilized in soups

[Back to Contents]


7. Vietnamese Coriander (rau răm)

Check out randomly asking a neighborhood individual which dish they bring to mind after they bring to mind rau răm (Vietnamese coriander) and they are going to very most likely say hột vịt lộn (fetal duck egg). So why consume hột vịt lộn with rau răm and now not every other herbs? As soon as you familiarize yourself with Vietnamese delicacies and the best way we mix sure issues in combination when consuming or ingesting, you are going to realize one of those yin-yang steadiness that we believe key to retaining us wholesome. Hột vịt lộn and rau răm is an ideal instance for one of these aggregate. Hột vịt lộn is strongly ‘yin’ (chilly) whilst rau răm is strongly ‘yang’ (scorching). Having hột vịt lộn with rau răm is helping save you the tummy from getting indigestion or bowel incontinence that one may revel in if consuming the dish by itself. On account of its chilly feature, hột vịt lộn is meant to be fed on within the morning relatively than the night time. Certainly, that is most often the case within the north. Alternatively, in southern Vietnam we ceaselessly consume it in the dead of night as a past due snack. Rau răm could also be a really perfect addition when making Vietnamese salads (gỏi or nộm). As an example, gỏi gà bắp cải rau răm (rooster salad with cabbage) is one among my favourites.

Vietnamese coriander
Vietnamese coriander rising in my lawn in Sai Gon

Vietnamese coriander in a salad
Vietnamese coriander in a contemporary herb salad

Vietnamese coriander with chicken
Vietnamese coriander garnishing a steamed rooster dish

[Back to Contents]


8. Thai Basil (húng quế)

Often noticed in conjunction with different contemporary herbs accompanying a bowl of phở or bún bò Huế, Thai basil could also be used as an factor in making soups or stir-fried dishes. The commonest Thai basil has crimson stems and crimson flora, and will have to now not be flawed with its circle of relatives member húng quế trắng or é trắng (lime basil), which has mild inexperienced stems and white flora, and grows extra in central and highland areas of Vietnam. Lẩu gà lá é (rooster hotpot with lime basil) is these days a well-liked dish in lots of portions of the country, at first a uniqueness of Phú Yên Province, in Central Vietnam. In some puts in Sài Gòn, you are going to discover a model of this dish however the usage of Thai basil: lẩu gà lá quế. In my view, I desire the latter for its aroma, even supposing the style of the rooster broth in each variations is just about the similar.

Thai basil, Vietnam
Thai basil rising in my lawn in Sai Gon

Thai basil with beef stew, Vietnam
Thai basil served as garnish for red meat stew

[Back to Contents]


9. Perilla Leaf (tía tô)

Perilla leaf is extensively used around the nation as an addition to a mixture of contemporary herbs to make contemporary spring rolls (gỏi cuốn), or so as to add right into a bowl of noodle soup, or just eaten uncooked by means of dipping right into a savoury sauce. On every occasion I catch a chilly, I can make myself a bowl of rice porridge (cháo) with quite a lot of perilla leaves, spring onions and beaten black pepper. That’s my people drugs and it tastes nice as smartly! My different favorite use for perilla leaf is to make a ravishing pink-coloured drink by means of boiling the leaves without or with rock sugar, letting it settle down then including lime juice and ice. It’s a really perfect drink for a scorching day and it’s believed to have many well being advantages.

Perilla leaf, Vietnam
Perilla leaf rising in my lawn in Sai Gon

Perilla leaf, Vietnam
Perilla leaf with different contemporary herbs served with rice paper rolls

[Back to Contents]


10. Vietnamese Balm (kinh giới)

Foreigners generally tend to mistake Vietnamese balm for lemon balm because of its equivalent look. Vietnamese balm does have a little of a lemony tang to it, however it’s now not as sturdy as lemon balm. It’s ceaselessly served contemporary in conjunction with perilla leaves in in style northern dishes, equivalent to bún đậu mắm tôm (rice vermicelli with fried tofu and shrimp paste), bún chả Hà Nội (Hanoi-style grilled red meat with rice noodles) and bún riêu cua (crab rice noodle soup). Vietnamese balm is an excessively aromatic herb.

See also  Make it easier to live and work in Vietnam, expats urge
Vietnamese balm
Vietnamese balm rising in my lawn in Sai Gon

Vietnamese balm with noodle soup
Vietnamese balm served with crab noodle soup

[Back to Contents]


11. Wild Mint (húng cây)

That is my favorite herb for consuming uncooked. Within the south, húng cây in conjunction with Thai basil are ceaselessly served with phở, bò kho (red meat stew) and cà ri gà (rooster curry). Alternatively, you are going to in most cases see húng cây combined with different herbs and salad vegetables to serve with bánh xèo (Vietnamese pancake) or bánh tráng cuốn (contemporary spring rolls). Húng cây has a gentle, minty, cleaning flavour.

Wild mint, Vietnam
Wild mint rising in my lawn in Sai Gon

Wild mint, Vietnam
Wild mint rising in my lawn in Sai Gon

[Back to Contents]


12. Mojito Mint (húng lủi)

Húng lủi is greater than only a ornamental herb for your glass of Mojito or on most sensible of a dessert cake. Very similar to húng cây, it’s ceaselessly combined with different herbs and greens to serve with other dishes. As an example, a bowl of mì quảng (a noodle dish in style within the central provinces) received’t be entire with out the addition of húng lủi which supplies the dish a refreshing flavour to steadiness the richness of its different parts. Alternatively, my favorite use of húng lủi is so as to add it to pomelo salad (gỏi bưởi) and inexperienced papaya salad (gỏi đu đủ). Húng lủi has a small and mild leaf and a gentle but unique minty flavour.

Mojito mint, Vietnam
Mojito mint rising in my lawn in Sai Gon

Mojito mint, Vietnam
Mojito mint as a garnish in a bowl of mi quang noodles

[Back to Contents]


13. Fish Mint (diếp cá)

Of the entire herbs indexed in this web page, diếp cá could be the person who each foreigners and plenty of Vietnamese other folks to find arduous to love because of its distinctive flavour. In Vietnamese, when describing a style or scent this is smelly, we ceaselessly affiliate it with the style/scent of fish: that is how diếp cá (fish mint) were given its identify. Alternatively, I feel it’s a misnomer, since the flavour is nowhere close to as ‘fishy’ as the general public assume. Without reference to the style, fish mint is thought of as some of the healthiest herbs to eat each day. We most often consume fish mint uncooked particularly when having bánh xèo (Vietnamese savoury pancake) or dip it in conjunction with different herbs in nước cá kho (stewed fish broth) or nước thịt kho (stewed red meat broth). Because of its many well being advantages (inside cleaning, controlling blood sugar degree, bettering the breathing gadget and boosting the immune gadget, to call only some), fish mint could also be used to make juice for detox beverages.

Fish mint, Vietnam
Fish mint rising in my lawn in Sai Gon

Fish mint, Vietnam
Fish mint rising in my lawn in Sai Gon

[Back to Contents]


14. Garlic (tỏi)

Despite the fact that garlic is a spice that’s used world wide, the best way Vietnamese other folks prepare dinner and use garlic is, personally, on every other degree. Vietnamese garlic sorts are ceaselessly smaller than the Chinese language ones that are extra in style within the West. To native other folks, the most productive garlic selection (additionally the costliest) is the tiny garlic bulbs that come from the volcanic island of Lý Sơn off the coast of Central Vietnam. Its maximum nutritious and sought-after model is tỏi cô đơn (single-clove garlic). I as soon as requested my buddy’s mum, who lives on Lý Sơn, what makes the island’s garlic extra fragrant and feature a more potent, spicier flavour than the remainder of the garlic within the nation. She mentioned the name of the game was once the volcanic soil (which comprises quite a lot of minerals) lined with a thick layer of coral sand which now not best makes the rising medium extra porous, but in addition is helping stay the moisture within the soil and save you the garlic from being overheated by means of the sturdy daylight at the island.

In Vietnam, we infrequently use garlic powder in our cooking; best contemporary cloves of garlic which are infrequently left unpeeled (possibly we’re lazy to peel them since the cloves are so small). Virtually the whole thing stir-fried is with garlic, from cơm chiên (fried rice) to mì xào and rau xào (stir-fried noodles and greens). Recent finely chopped garlic is ceaselessly noticed with reduce chillies in just a little bowl of fish sauce or soy sauce to function a dip with primary dishes. Pickled garlic could also be to be had as a condiment when having noodle soups in native eating places. Garlic could also be a key factor for some people therapies. I bear in mind when I used to be a kid, my mum used to make garlic juice combined with honey for me to drink each time I had a cough.

Garlic cloves, Vietnam
Vietnamese garlic is ceaselessly smaller than garlic utilized in Western delicacies

Garlic cloves, Vietnam
Tiny garlic from the volcanic island of Ly Son is very prized in Vietnam

[Back to Contents]


15. Shallot (củ hành tím)

If I run out of garlic for a stir-fried dish, I can use shallot instead. Shallot has a milder flavour than garlic. To support the perfume, we infrequently combine minced garlic and shallot in combination in sure dishes, particularly when the cooking comes to meat as a major factor. Slices of toasted shallot are often used as a garnish for salads, or bánh cuốn (steamed rice paper rolls), or rice porridge (cháo). Very similar to garlic, pickled shallot could also be used as a condiment, however is extra not unusual in noodle soup eating places within the northern provinces.

Shallots garnishing steamed rice rolls, Vietnam
Toasted shallots garnishing steamed rice rolls

Shallots garnishing an egg omelet, Vietnam
Shallots in an omelet

[Back to Contents]


16. Ginger (gừng)

Ginger is extensively used around the nation, alternatively, personally, it’s extra in style within the south in comparison to the remainder of the country. Despite the fact that wild ginger is ceaselessly noticed rising in mountainous spaces of Central Vietnam and in herbal forests everywhere the rustic (I lately noticed it rising in Côn Đảo nationwide park whilst trekking throughout the wooded area), this sort isn’t used for cooking however relatively for medicinal functions.

I really like ginger such a lot that anywhere I’m residing in Sài Gòn (I’ve stayed in numerous districts over the past 15 years), I at all times develop ginger, both in a container on a balcony or at once within the flooring if I’ve get entry to to a lawn. Ginger is a basic factor in lots of vintage home-cooked dishes, equivalent to rooster, duck or fish stew with ginger (gà/vịt/cá kho gừng).

Relating to domestic therapies and wholesome beverages, ginger is possibly essentially the most to hand spice to have within the kitchen. A scorching cup of ginger tea with honey works nice when you’ve got a chilly or sore throat. I additionally like so as to add contemporary ginger to my do-it-yourself kombucha, however my favorite flavour is a mixture of ginger and pineapple.

See also  Top 7 Best Spots for Enjoying Sunset in Vietnam |
Ginger, Vietnam
Recent ginger

Ginger in a soup, Vietnam
Ginger cooked in a mustard leaf soup

Flowering wild ginger, Vietnam
Flowering wild ginger

[Back to Contents]


17. Turmeric (nghệ)

In my revel in, contemporary turmeric is a lot more in style in Central Vietnam than in different areas. Fish stew with turmeric (cá kho nghệ), stir-fried pig intestines with turmeric (lòng xào nghệ), and stir-fried eel with turmeric (lươn xào nghệ) are well known dishes from the central provinces. All of them glance, style and scent nice, however contemporary turmeric badly stains your mouth and palms when making ready or consuming it. On account of this inconvenience, many of us desire to make use of turmeric powder to prepare dinner with, as an alternative of the usage of the true rhizome. Natural turmeric powder could also be a really perfect factor in relation to herbal well being therapies.

Turmeric, Vietnam
Recent turmeric

Turmeric, Vietnam
Recent turmeric

[Back to Contents]


18. Galangal (riềng)

If ginger is extra in style within the south and turmeric within the centre, then galangal is the spice of the north. Thịt giả cầy (a pretend canine meat dish that makes use of red meat in its place for the dog) is a regular northern dish during which galangal is the primary flavour in conjunction with ginger and different spices. Cá chẽm kho riềng (stewed carp with galangal) and cá trê kho riềng (stewed catfish with galangal) also are nice dishes that you just will have to check out when eating within the northern provinces. As any person who loves pickled and fermented meals, my favorite use of galangal is so as to add it right into a jar of cà pháo muối (fermented Thai eggplant) in conjunction with contemporary garlic and chillies.

Galangal, Vietnam
Recent galangal

Galangal, Vietnam
Recent galangal

[Back to Contents]


19. Lemongrass (sả)

Lemongrass is every other multi-purpose herb. In Vietnam, best the stems are used for cooking. Virtually all meat and seafood dishes style nice when cooked with a mix of lemongrass and chillies: gà kho sả ớt (rooster stew with lemongrass and chilli), bò xào sả ớt (stir-fried red meat with lemongrass and chilli), ếch xào sả ớt (stir-fried frog with lemongrass and chilli) to call only some. One of the crucial well-known Vietnamese noodle soups, bún bò Huế, would lose its magic with out sa tế sả (shacha sauce – a mix of chilli, oil and lemongrass), to not point out the bundles of sprigs of lemongrass boiling away within the cauldron of broth.

The leaf of lemongrass can also be sun-dried to make lemongrass tea. Alternatively, my favorite use of the leaves is to combine them with different herbs (like holy basil) and fragrant leaves (equivalent to lime leaves or five-leaved chaste tree leaves) in my lawn to make a steam bathtub, particularly when I am getting a chilly or am feeling stressed out.

Lemongrass, Vietnam
Lemongrass rising in my lawn in Sai Gon

Lemongrass, chilli & garlic 'sa te' sauce, Vietnam
Lemongrass combined with chilli & oil to make sa tế sả sauce

[Back to Contents]


20. Chilli (ớt)

There are lots of other kinds of chilli in Vietnam, and plenty of techniques to consume, keep and serve chilli relying at the dish. In my revel in, Central Vietnamese dishes are ceaselessly heavy on using chilli – both in its contemporary shape, dried, combined with oil or in chilli sauce. Some other folks say this will have to be a legacy of the Cham other folks and tradition (an historical Indianized kingdom in Central Vietnam), whilst others imagine that because of the tough climate within the central provinces, native other folks consume numerous chilli to warmth up their our bodies and really feel hotter. However I’m extra persuaded by means of a 3rd speculation: As fish and different seafood are the primary supply of protein for other folks in Central Vietnam, they use chilli to steadiness out the wealthy fishy flavour in their dishes, and in addition to keep their surplus within the type of fermented fish and seafood (these kind of meals are ceaselessly fermented with quite a lot of garlic and chilli).

Southern other folks additionally use numerous chilli, however as a result of they love sweetness of their soups, sauces and stews, the addition of sugar reduces the spiciness of the chilli to a definite extent. Within the north, the flavor of meals is most often milder and subsequently chilli isn’t used as a lot in comparison to central and southern Vietnam.

Skinny slices of unpolluted chilli (ớt sừng) or complete contemporary chillies (ớt hiểm, ớt xiêm) in conjunction with chilli sauce and chilli oil are ceaselessly to be had as a condiment at the desk while you dine in native eating places. Very similar to garlic, the smaller number of chilli is most often the most productive. Probably the most well-known selection in Vietnam is most likely additionally the spiciest, referred to as ‘fowl losing chilli’ (ớt chim ỉa or ớt xiêm rừng) that develop naturally within the wild. One chew of the end of this chilli offers you sufficient spiciness for a complete meal. You’ll see them extra ceaselessly in inexperienced than crimson. The crimson ones are most often preserved thru pickling or fermenting.

Chillies, Vietnam
Recent chillies

Chilli plant, Vietnam
Chilli plant rising in my lawn in Sai Gon

Different forms of chilli, Vietnam
Other kinds of chilli as condiments

*Disclosure: All content material on Vietnam Coracle is unfastened to learn and independently produced. Thảo has written this information as a result of she enjoys Vietnam’s herbs and spices and desires readers to learn about them. For extra main points, see the Disclosure & Disclaimer statements and About Page


Questions, updates and shuttle experiences are all welcome. Alternatively, please stay feedback well mannered and on-topic. See commenting etiquette for main points.

Source link

Leave a Comment