Herb Spotlight: Vietnamese cilantro

Vietnamese cilantro, also known as Vietnamese coriander, Cambodian mint or Rau Ram, makes an unusual addition to your herb garden. It’s native to Southeast Asia, where it's a very popular culinary ingredient. Vietnamese cilantro is not the same as the “regular” cilantro we are all so familiar with in Western cuisine. It has a very strong, smoky yet minty flavor and, because of its strength, should be used in quantities about half that of cilantro. The biggest benefit to growing Vietnamese cilantro over cilantro is its ability to beat our summer heat.

It’s a low, creeping plant that will spread into ground cover if given enough time. It can’t handle temperatures below freezing, but if grown in a pot and brought inside when there is a frost, it can last for many seasons. Plant grows best in bright morning sun and afternoon shade.

Keep the soil moist. If the plant stops producing new leaves in midseason, cut it back almost to the base to promote new growth. If it’s growing in a container, you might need to repot it into a bigger one—or divide it and replant in the same pot—a couple of times a season.

Prune herb, pull young leaves from stems, rinse, and dry. Store clean leaves, layered between slightly damp towels in the refrigerator. Soak any wilted leaves in ice water briefly to refresh them.

Vietnamese Dipping Sauce

This sauce can be used to brings the prefect amount of sour, sweet, salty, spicy and authenticity to your dish -- from omelets, to salad dressing or drizzled on a sandwich. This sauce brings the prefect amount of sour, sweet, salty spicy and authentic to your dish.

3 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons local
2 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
1 or 2 small Thai chiles, thinly sliced
1 handful fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1 handful Vietnamese coriander leaves, finely chopped

Mix the lime juice, honey and 1/2 cup of water in a small bowl and stir. Taste and adjust the flavors if necessary to balance out the sweet and sour. Add the fish sauce, garlic and chiles. Taste again and adjust the flavors to your liking, balancing out the sour, sweet, salty and spicy. Cover and set aside at room temperature until needed, up to 24 hours. Just before serving, mix in the mint and Vietnamese cilantro.