Learn the various types of Vietnamese herbs that are used in cooking your favorite dishes. I share with you a specific list of common Vietnamese fresh herbs and vegetables that are used while also sharing some of my favorite recipes to use them in.
If you ever venture into a Vietnamese restaurant and order dishes that come accompanies with lush green herbs, vegetables, and spices, you might be wondering what these plants are. My goal with this post is to share with you some of my favorite Vietnamese herbs and vegetables so that you may cook them directly at home.
This page will be added over time as I continue to bring you some of my favorite Vietnamese recipes and discover some of the herbs and veggies I need to add right on this page. I’ll try to provide a picture of each of the herbs, what the plants taste like, and also how each of the herbs are referred to in both English and Vietnamese.
Ultimate Guide to Common Herbs and Vegetables Used in Vietnamese Cooking
If you want to learn all about these herbaceous leafy greens and exactly what they are, find out below.
Bitter Herb – Rau Đắng
What Bitter Herb Looks Like
Bitter herb is smaller in size, but looks similar to the rice paddy herb with smoother edges and stems rather than serrated sharp ones.
What Bitter Herb Tastes Like
Bitter herb taste very bitter and is used inside hot soups to bring another dimension to the dish. It’s normally not eaten in raw form. Generally, the leaves are only used in soups.
Vietnamese Dishes That Use Bitter Herb
Bitter Herb is used in Vietnamese hot soups.
Chinese Chives (also known as Garlic Chives) – Hẹ
What Chinese Chives Looks Like
Chinese Chives look very similar to green onion, but they are tougher tubular stems that are longer, and more slender.
What Chinese Chives Tastes Like
They have a similar flavor to green onion with a garlic flavor that also has a mild, fresh, grassy taste.
Vietnamese Dishes That Use Chinese Chives
Vietnamese cuisines that use chive include pho and spring rolls.
Chrysanthemum – Tần Ô
What Chrysanthemum Looks Like
Chrysanthemum has a thick stalk and branches out with both toothed and rounded edges.
What Chrysanthemum Tastes Like
Chrysanthemum has a strong, butter flavor.
Vietnamese Dishes That Use Chrysanthemum
In Vietnamese cuisines, Chrysanthemum is often provided as an accompaniment to hot soups.
Cilantro – Ngò Mùi, Ngò, or Rau Mùi
Cilantro is referred to by many names in both English and Vietnamese. It’s often referred just cilantro, Chinese cilantro, Chinese parsley, Chinese Coriander, and sometimes called Vietnamese cilantro.
What Cilantro Looks Like
Vietnamese cilantro is has a bright green steams and leaves, resembling flat leaf parsley.
What Cilantro Tastes Like
Cilantro has a citrusy, deep, strong flavor. It’s often used as a topping or cooked down to diminish the strength of the flavor.
Vietnamese Dishes That Use Cilantro
Culantro – Ngò Gai
Culantro, often referred to in English as the sawtooth herb, is similar to a coriander herb, but is definitely a unique herb with a distinct flavor.
What Culantro Looks Like
Culantro has a serrated leaf that has an appearance of a saw blade.
What Culantro Tastes Like
Culantro has a stronger flavor than cilantro and coriander.
Vietnamese Dishes That Use Culantro
Vietnamese cuisines that use culantro include Vietnamese pho where it’s served as an accompaniment to the dish.
Fish Mint (also known as Heart Leaf)- Diếp Cá
Fish mint has a unique smell and taste that will be memorable if you encounter this dish.
What Fish Mint Looks Like
Fish mint has a shiny, heart shaped leaf.
What Fish Mint Tastes Like
Fish mint has a sour taste and has a fishy after taste. It does have a slight fish smell.
Vietnamese Dishes That Use Fish Mint
Fish mint is often served along side dishes like Banh Khot and Banh Xeo. it is also served often with grilled meats and in fish soups.
Mustard Leaf (also known as Mustard Greens) – Cải Xanh (also known as Cải Bẹ Xanh)
What Mustard Leaf Looks Like
Mustard leaf has really sharp serrated edges with a flat, round leaf.
What Mustard Leaf Tastes Like
It has a peppery, sharp taste that is similar to radish.
Vietnamese Dishes That Use Mustard Leaf
Mustard leaf is often used in dishes like Banh Xeo as added layers of wrapping to the dish.
Pennywort – Rau Má
What Pennywort Looks Like
Pennywort has small, round leaves that look similar to clovers. The leaves have small ripples.
What Pennywort Tastes Like
Pennywort has a flavor reminiscent of cucumber and grass.
Vietnamese Dishes That Use Pennywort
Pennywort is often used in Vietnamese cuisines like fresh spring rolls and pennywort juice.
Pepper Elder – Càng Cua
What Pepper Elder Looks Like
Pepper Elder has a green, glossy, broad leaf that is heart shaped with opaque stalks.
What Pepper Elder Tastes Like
It has a slightly sweet and bitter taste.
Vietnamese Dishes That Use Pepper Elder
Pepper Elder is used fresh as well as in beef dishes cooked.
Piper Lolot – Lá Lốt
What Piper Lolot Looks Like
It has a teardrop shaped leaf that is dark green. It’s often confused with a similar leaf called Betel.
What Piper Lolot Tastes Like
Piper Lolot has a bitter, peppery taste.
Vietnamese Dishes That Use Piper Lolot
Grilled beef often uses Piper Lolot as a wrap.
Rice Paddy (also known as sweet cumin) – Ngò ôm
This herb is often referred to as sweet cumin.
What Rice Paddy Looks Like
Rice paddy has a hollow stem that has small hairs on it with serrated leaves.
What Rice Paddy Tastes Like
Rice Paddy has a taste mixture of cumin, dill, and lemon.
Vietnamese Dishes That Use Rice Paddy
Dishes that rice paddy is served with include Vietnamese pho.
Spearmint – Húng Lủi
What Spearmint Looks Like
Spearmint has green dark leaves with an oval shape and serrated edges.
What Spearmint Tastes Like
Compared to peppermint, Spearmint has a more more subtle flavor than spearmint.
Vietnamese Dishes That Use Spearmint
Vietnamese cuisines that use spearmint include Goi Cuon.
Peppermint – Húng Cây
What Peppermint Looks Like
Peppermint has bright green leaves that are pointy, with slightly serrated edges.
What Peppermint Tastes Like
Peppermint has a mint flavor that is spicy with a bit of heat.
Vietnamese Dishes That Use Peppermint
Vietnamese cuisines that use peppermint are often pork and shrimp dishes like Vietnamese spring rolls.
Sorrel – Rau Chua
What Sorrel Looks Like
Sorrel has wavy, arrow-shaped leaves.
What Sorrel Tastes Like
Sorrel has a kiwi-like taste with subtle sour notes.
Vietnamese Dishes That Use Sorrel
Sorrel in Vietnamese dishes is often eaten with Banh Xeo and spring rolls.
Thai Basil – Húng Quế
This is one of the most popular herbs in Vietnam for accompanying with soups.
What Thai Basil Looks Like
Thai Basil is serrated and pointy with a purple stem with purple white flowers.
What Thai Basil Tastes Like
Thai Basil has a taste similar to licorice and anise, and is different than that of sweet Italian basil.
Vietnamese Dishes That Use Thai Basil
Vietnamese Coriander (also known as Vietnamese Mint and Hot Mint) – Rau Răm
While the names may be confusing between Vietnamese Coriander and Vietnamese cilantro, they look completely different.
What Vietnamese Coriander, Vietnamese Mint, and Hot Mint Looks Like
Vietnamese coriander as smooth edges with point leaves.
What Vietnamese Coriander, Vietnamese Mint, and Hot Mint Tastes Like
Vietnamese coriander has a mint taste with a bit of heat and a mix of citrus.
Vietnamese Dishes That Use Vietnamese Coriander, Vietnamese Mint, and Hot Mint
Vietnamese Balm (also known as Lemon Balm) – Kinh Giới
What Vietnamese Balm Looks Like
Vietnamese balm looks similar to mint leaves, but are larger in size. The serrated edges are rounded as opposed to having a pointy edge like culantro.
What Vietnamese Balm Tastes Like
Vietnamese balm has a slight citrus flavor.
Vietnamese Dishes That Use Vietnamese Balm
Vietnamese cuisines that use Vietnamese Balm include Vietnamese spring rolls.
What Vietnamese Lettuce Looks Like
Vietnamese lettuce looks similar to butterhead lettuce.
What Vietnamese Lettuce Tastes Like
Vietnamese lettuce taste similar to butterhead lettuce, with a sweet buttery taste.
Vietnamese Dishes That Use Vietnamese Lettuce
Vietnamese dishes that use Vietnamese lettuce often use it to wrap ingredients up, including Banh Xeo.
Vietnamese Perilla – Tía Tô
This herb has a very distinct and unique taste that is very specific to Vietnamese dishes.
What Vietnamese Perilla Looks Like
Vietnamese perilla has large, wide leaves with a velvety texture. The green and purple leaves have serrated edges.
What Vietnamese Perilla Tastes Like
Vietnamese Perilla has an earthy, yet subtle taste.
Vietnamese Dishes That Use Vietnamese Perilla
Vietnamese perilla is often paired as an accompaniment to Banh Xeo, Banh Khot, and Vietnamese spring rolls.
Water Spinach (also known as Morning Glory) – Rau Muống
What Water Spinach Looks Like
Water spinach has an arrow-shaped leaf with thin, hallow shoots.
What Water Spinach Tastes Like
Water spinach doesn’t have strong flavor, but provides dishes with a crunchy texture.
Vietnamese Dishes That Use Water Spinach
Watercress – Xà Lách Son
What Watercress Looks Like
Watercress has a green leaf that is wavy and shiny with a thick stem.
What Watercress Tastes Like
Water cress has a peppery flavor.
Vietnamese Dishes That Use Watercress
Summary of Common Vietnamese Plants, Herbs, and Vegetables Used
This article provides a good starting list of some of the most common ingredients used in Vietnamese cooking. I hope this provides you some insight on some of the most delicious herbs out there for pairing with your recipes whether you are just starting out with Vietnamese cooking or just wanting to become a more adventurous consumer of delicious food, understanding the variety of herbs that are used in these dishes can be a great start!
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