If the sauce makes up a characteristic feature of European cuisine, the spices are considered the soul that creates the distinctive flavor of Asian cuisine, especially Vietnam.
In most of the Vietnamese dishes, herbs are indispensable, making the food more flavorful and more attractive. However, each herb will be used in the different one, and 15 common herbs in Vietnam will help you create more authentic food than ever.
What are Vietnamese herbs?
Vietnamese herbs are spices used to refer to herbaceous vegetables with a characteristic aroma formed by essential oils such as basil, mint, dill, and perilla.
Herbs are often to eat raw with some processed meats and Vietnamese fishes or as spices for available food, such as salads, Pho, and vermicelli.
15 popular herbs in Vietnam with great flavor and healthy effects
Most herbs contain essential oils and are not only popularly used in cuisine, but also it is known in herbal remedies. There are many herb varieties of homegrown or wild plants. Here are 15 popular herbs and miraculous use you should know.
1. Bac Ha (Peppermint)
Peppermint has a cool feature, from scent to taste, giving the eater a coolness on the tongue. It is used popularly to decorate cakes, beverages, and mixed raw vegetables. Now mint is also extracted as an oil.
Peppermint is also a valuable remedy in the treatment of colds, flu, stomach bloating, hiccups, good for the digestive tract. The essential oil of Bac Ha is very effective for applying to insect bites and relieving asthma attacks.
2. Hung lui (Water mint)
A lot of people can’t distinguish water mint and basil and peppermint because the stem to the leaves is very similar. To identify them, look at their leaves, peppermint leaves have a soft serrated feather while water mint leaves are smooth, less wrinkled.
Like many other herbs, basil has the effect of stimulating a good digestive system, so weekly we should add Hung Lui to the menu of raw vegetables once.
3. Hung Que (Sweet basil)
Sweet basil is added as a spice for vermicelli, Vietnamese pho, boiled chicken, and duck porridge. On the other hand, basil seeds are famous in soft drinks.
Hung Que is a hot character, little spicy. So, according to oriental medicine, it is good for treating colds, stuffy nose, fever, or headache. In the days when the weather changes, our body is susceptible to the flu. A bowl of basil porridge can help the body quickly get healthy.
4. Rau ram (Vietnamese hot mint)
The most common use of Rau Ram is to deodorize fishy smells of seafood in Vietnam and is also extremely famous for serving ribs porridge or balut eggs.
Vietnamese hot mint has a spicy and warm taste. If used as traditional medicine, it is usually picked fresh from the garden or bought in unprocessed markets. Cold stomach pain, hemorrhoids, or poor digestion can be a remedy quite effectively.
5. Thi La (Dill)
Dill is indispensable when cooking fish. Especially if without Thi La, the fishball cannot be a delicious dish.
Dill is also a miracle tonic for the kidneys, treating stomach pain or toothache.
6. Rau ngo diec (Deaf cilantro)
One of the other popular herbs is Rau Ngo Diec (deaf cilantro), which is extremely good for the digestive system. It has cool properties, so sour soups with freshwater fishes are indispensable for deaf cilantro. Besides, it is eaten with liver pork and well-cooked fishes.
7. Ngo gai (Chinese cilantro)
Ngo gai is called Chinese cilantro in North Vietnam while it is called long cilantro in the south, with the features identified by the serrated edges at the leaf marges.
Chinese cilantro, whether eaten raw or cooked, has a medicinal effect in stimulating the digestive system and reduces heat.
8. Rau ngo (Corriander)
Corriander has small leaves with light green color. Its plant is usually about 20 cm long. The scent of Rau ngo is very fragrant, used in many Vietnamese dishes. Among herbs, coriander is almost widely used, can be eaten raw, chopped to make stir-fries, or used to decorate on the cooked food.
According to folklore, on the occasion of the Lunar New Year, coriander is used in water to bathe or wash with the desire to cleanse the body to receive the good things in a new year.
9. Hanh la (Scallion)
Scallion can be found in almost dishes in every Vietnamese food. Scallions are both decorative and flavorful for food, such as vermicelli, Pho, stir-fried dishes, and stewed dishes. However, not everyone can eat scallions because of the slightly pungent and spicy smell.
The most common medicinal use of scallions is to relieve colds. So, every time the local people get a cold, they often cook a bowl of scallion porridge to help the body release toxic materials in the body and circulate blood quickly.
10. Tia to (Perilla leaves)
Perilla leaves (also called Beefsteak plant) have the characteristic aroma. The leaves are purple with soft serrated edges at the leaf marges. The feeling when eating perilla is dry in the mouth. The oriental medicine classifies perilla in the group of herbs that dissolve typhoid, fever, and causing sweating.
Perilla can alleviate the fishy smell very well, so Vietnamese people like to cook it with fish soups.
11. Kinh gioi (Oregano)
The indispensable dish of oregano is the bean vermicelli (Bun dau Hanoi). In all the vermicelli shops, its leaves are always the main herb using raw with the other ingredients of the dish.
Oregano has light green, and its shape looks like the perilla leaves. So, we recognize its green color from purple perilla.
12. La lot (Piper lolot)
Piper lolot is a herbaceous plant that lives for many years, and its body has longitudinal grooves. The leaves are monolithic, staggered, heart-shaped, dark green with a glossy leaf surface.
Piper lolot is popular to use in daily meals. The leaves are often used as aroma herbs when cooking soups and snails, or rolling beef to grill.
In traditional medicine, this herb can cure plenty of diseases. Gynecological diseases such as inflammation, spoilage, and osteoarthritis can be treated with folk remedies from piper lolot. Besides, for heatstroke, headache, toothache, and cold stomach ache, just cook the leaves to eat, then the body can balance quickly.
13. Diep ca (Fish lettuce)
The fishy smell is a recognizable feature of fish lettuce. These leaves are often to serve with pancakes, salad dishes, or as a beautiful smoothie.
Fish lettuce has excellent therapeutic effects such as rashes, digestive, antibacterial, or killing parasites, which is recognized by modern medicine.
14. Sa (Lemongrass)
Lemongrass is a fragrant herb that creates a lovely aroma for soups, typically for Bun Bo Hue. Lemongrass is a type of sheath plant with a total length of 1 m. However, we cannot eat its body, just use its roots around 20m to make the flavor for food.
Lemongrass can help to treat colds, headaches, rheumatism, and diuretic. Plenty of Vietnamese people cook lemongrass (all body and leaves) with some slides of ginger. Then, mix the boiling water with the cold water to become warm. After that, dip the foot into this contain about 15 minutes, which can help to stop rheumatism.
15. Dinh lang (Ming aralia)
The leaves of ming aralia (Dinh lang in Vietnamese) are light green color, about 2-4cm long. Its leaves are small, disproportionately shaped like bird’s feet, and the leaf tip is pointed and lobed 3-4 times. Dinh lang leaves come in daily meals, such as lobed, salads, served as raw vegetables, typical most notably fish salad.
The people use dry leaves of ming aralia to put in the pillow, which helps them sleep better and avoid headaches. Besides, ming aralia roots are considered as the ginseng, but the low price.
These herbs are typical aroma spices in Vietnam, which improve the flavor and value of Vietnamese food. Using herbs becomes popular in the cooking and eating habits of Vietnamese people. Thus, when traveling to this country, you can try to taste different herbs as ingredients in plenty of dishes.
Besides using them as spices, herbs are typical traditional medicine for the locals. However, when changing it into medicine to release some diseases, it often takes a long time to get results. Despite that, the information about the herb as medicine here is just for reference, not the guides to stop sickness.
The essential method is to use Vietnamese herbs as specific aroma spices, supplying more vitamins for the body, improving the health, and supporting us to eat the food with better feelings.