Vietnamese coriander is most commonly used in Vietnamese cooking
but is also well used throughout the whole of S E Asia.
It has many local names - rau ram, daun kesom, daun laksa, phak phai, luam laws
and phak phaew to name but a few!
It is not actually a mint but tastes and looks quite similar hence it's English translated names.
The leaves are long and pointed and bright green in colour. Each mature leaf has a striking dark V marking on it's upper surface. The stems are purple and jointed at each leaf. Once established it makes rapid growth and if grown in a pot will need a good sized container by the end of the summer.
As it comes from the tropics it needs winter protection from frosts, a heated greenhouse or a cool window sill will be fine. It does not need too high a temperature just to be kept dry and above freezing. Plants for culinary use in winter will do well in a bright kitchen.
The younger leaves are the most tender when to be used raw, use in moderation to begin with as the taste is strong and can overpower if too much is used.
It is traditionally used in laksa and other Vietnamese soups based on coconut and noodles.
A herb to experiment with, try it in lots of different ways!
It is high in beta-carotene, iron, vitamin E and calcium, and the leaf contains up to 5.8% protein.
It assists and improves digestion as it has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which protect the gastric system as a whole. In Australia there is research into growing Vietnamese coriander as a leaf crop for the extraction of kesom oil, much in demand by both food and fragrance industries.