Vietnamese Herbs and Spices To Know While Cooking

Vietnamese Herbs and Spices


Vietnamese Herbs are important things when we want to cook real Vietnamese food. Come to Vietnam, foreign tourists are not only impressed by a small country with the shape of S, but also by Vietnamese people’s culture from clothes to behaviors, etc. and especially cuisine. They are surprised by and interested in Vietnamese’s types of food. A simple reason is that Vietnamese dishes’ flavor is different from theirs. The Vietnamese use not only flavors such as salt, sugar, pepper, onion, garlic but also herbs, a plant whose leaves, flowers and seeds are used to flavor food for pleasant smell, for dishes.

Vietnamese Herbs and Spices

There was a French Newspaper “decode” distinctive flavor of Vietnamese dishes. It gave an explanation for why Vietnamese’s dishes were loved by tourists: “The other countries usually use spices to cook, but none of the countries use herbs to flavor for dishes like in Vietnam”.

Herbs are one of main spices in Vietnamese food recipes. Besides, Vietnamese herbs are also used as green vegetables. It is used for various purposes such as decorating food dishes, flavoring for dishes according to the taste of everybody… Herbs create a special flavor of Vietnamese dishes. In other words, when processing delicious food, we need to combine in harmony with nutrition and many types of spice as well as types of herbs in order to make tasty dishes to meet demand of cuisine and protect the body from common diseases.

Compared to other vegetables, the number of herbs used in cooking is less, but its nutritious value is very high. Moreover, herbs help to balance the body in traditional medicine.
Vietnamese Herbs are easy to plant and lasts about a few months if the weather is favorable. And then, we can have fresh and safe herbs to use. There are many famous villages with herbs such as Lang Village (Ancient Hanoi), Tra Que Village (Quang Nam), etc.

Let Vietnam Shore Excursions show you 5 main types of herbs used popularly and regularly at Vietnamese families:

List of Vietnamese Herbs and Spices

Coriander (Rau Mùi)

Coriander is one of the most commonly used herbs – in spite of the fact that the name comes from the Greek, meaning bed bug! It is green, leafy and strong-smelling with a fresh, citrus taste that makes it an invaluable garnish and flavor enhancer. Coriander’s leaves are long, but its stems are knotty and knobby. Also known as Laksa leaf, Vietnamese coriander is also more fragrant than culantro. Both the fresh leaves and stalks are edible, as well as the berries, which are dried and called coriander seeds. Although sometimes eaten alone, the seeds often are used as a spice or an added ingredient in other foods.

Coriander - Vietnam Shore Excursions

For some dishes, its leaves are used as a spice and its dried greed is grilled and scattered over dishes. For maximum flavor, it is best added to dishes just before serving. Because of coriander’s flavor, it is used in many delicious dishes such as beef wine sauce, taro ribs soup or in attractive salad dishes.

Culantro (Mùi Tàu) 

Culantro is actually the Spanish Nam of an herb in the parsley family that bears the specific name Eryngium Foetidum and has long leaves edges with spines. In Vietnam, it is known as thorny coriander. Culantro has a similar smell and taste to coriander. However, coriander’s flavor is stronger than Culantro’s.

Culantro is popularly used in making a bowl of Pho. In other words, Culantro is an optional garnish in Vietnamese Pho, along with the bean sprouts, lime wedges, chopped Asian chili and Thai basil. When tourists eat a bowl of Pho, it is up to them to put culantro in their bowl or not.

Culantro - Vietnam Shore Excursions

Many people just tear the long culantro leaves into pieces about 1 to 2 inches long and drop them directly into their bowl before taking the first bite. Many Pho connoisseurs like to tear culantro into smaller pieces and add them as they eat their Pho.

Thanks to adding culantro into Pho, a bowl of Pho looks more attractive and delicious. Many foreign tourists to Hanoi cannot forget Hanoi Pho’s flavor.

Lemongrass (Cây Xả)

Lemongrass is native to India and tropical Asia. It is a stalk plant. It is widely used as an herb in Asia cuisine in general and Vietnam cuisine in particular. It has a subtle citrus flavor and can be dried and powdered or used fresh. It’s also suitable for use with poultry, fish, beef and seafood.

Lemongrass - Vietnam Shore Excursions

Lemongrass is cut into slices or short segments and used in chicken stirring with lemongrass, curry dishes, etc. It flavors main fragrant for Bun Bo Hue with a mixture of hot, acid, salty and sweet spices.

Dill (Thi Là)

Dill is a common herb that is quite easy for the average gardener to grow. The fresh leaves, flower heads and dill seeds are used for cooking and herbal remedies. People may know that dill is used to flavor pickles, but it has many other uses as well.

Dill is mainly used in cooking fish dishes. We can use fresh dill in marinating fish, or lay sprigs of fresh dill on fish when we are baking or poaching it. Chopped fresh dill can be added to sauces for fish.

Dill - Vietnam Shore Excursions

In addition, we can also make tasty salads. For example, hot cabbage salad we make by adding a tablespoon of chopped fresh dill leaves to our favorite hot cabbage salad recipe.

Vietnamese Palm (Rau Kinh Giới)

Vietnamese palm brings a mixture of lemongrass, Thai basil and mint. Its leaves are short with a spine edge.

Unlike drill, lemongrass used for cooking, Vietnamese palm is usually used in salads such as banana flower salad or eaten as a type of fresh vegetable with Bun dau, Bun cha, etc.

Vietnamese Palm - Vietnam Shore Excursions

If Vietnamese’s dishes lack these types of herbs, they will be less tasty and attractive. Therefore, using herbs in Vietnamese’s meals is common and necessary.

Besides enhancing flavor for dishes, herbs are also known as one of important folk medicines to treat diseases.

There are several Vietnamese spices and herbs to know for a local food lover. Follow other articles on our website to get useful tips on How to cook Vietnamese food!

If you would like to explore and taste various delicious kinds of Vietnamese cuisine, chat with local people, study their livelihoods and understand more about Vietnamese History and Culture, join one of our food tours as bellow. We guarantee a local perspective that will give you and your family a once in a lifetime experience.

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David Nguyen - Vietnam Travel Expert

Mr. David Nguyen is a travel expert and as a seasoned traveler he has the inside track on the most memorable adventures which will help you to have unforgettable memories and wonderful experiences to better your Vietnam Holiday!

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