Vietnamese Herbs


Storage and Preservation

Maximizing Herb Shelf Life & Freshness

Cut Stems Under Water!

-Wash & rinse herbs.

-Take herbs and place stems in bowl of cold water.  Using scissors, cut about 1/4” to 1/2” of the  stems while they are submerged under the water.  Let the stems remain in the water for about 5 minutes to soak up as much water as possible up the stems.

Storage in Water

Once cut, place the herbs in cup of water. Cover herbs soaking in water with a plastic bag.  Store in fridge for use throughout the week in cooking.

Storage in Paper Towels

-Once herbs have soaked in water for at least 5 minutes, wrap in slightly damp paper towels and place in plastic bag. Refrigerate and use when needed.

**This method works great with lettuce heads.  Once lettuce is washed and rinsed well, hold ends of lettuce under water in bowl.  Use a small knife, make a fresh cut on base of lettuce.  Let it soak up water for about 5 minutes.  Place in paper towels and store in plastic bag.  The lettuce will remain fresh and crisp for about 7 days. Use one leaf at a time when needed for meals.

Other Useful References


Edible Wild Plants of Vietnam: The Bountiful Garden
Yoshitaka Tanaka
Medicinal Plants of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos   Nguyen Van Duong
Medicinal Plants of Asia and The Pacific Christopher Wiart
Ethnopharmacology of Medicinal Plants: Asia  Ivan A. Ross
Additional Herb sites:



Gernot Katzers Spice Pages
Daves Garden
Clove Garden
 Seed Information:




Evergreen Seeds
Richters Herbs
Thienemans Herbs
Kitazawa Seeds
Mountain Valley Growers















Basil – Thai/Asian – Húng Quế 

Basil Thai

Vietnamese Herb Name: Rau Quế, Húng Quế

Common Culinary Herb Name: Thai Basil (Queenette / Siam Queen / Anise Varieties), Asian Sweet Basil, Purple Basil . Anise Basil

Botanical Family & Herb Name : Lamiaceae, Ocimum Spp.

Vegetative Description: Stems are purple with small purple/white flowers.  Leaves are more narrow and darker than Italian Basil herbs.

Native Habitat & Ecology:

Tasting Note: sometimes sweet/spicy, anise/licorice scented leaves.

Culinary Uses: Eaten raw.  Smelling this basil is to be reminded of a piping hot bowl of phỏ noodle soup.  These lusciously aromatic infused leaves are the most associated with phỏ and many common herb plates in Vietnamese cuisine.

Medicinal Uses: Antibacterial qualities

Propagation: By seed or from tender cuttings in soil or water.

Other Names: Bai horapa (Thai)


Basil – Vietnamese – Húng Quế Viet-Nam 

Basil Vietnamese

Vietnamese Herb Names: Rau Quế VietNam, Húng Quế VietNam

Common Culinary Herb Name: Vietnamese Basil

Botanical Family & Herb Name : Lamiaceae , Ocimum Spp.

Vegetative Description: Stems are purple with small purple/white flowers.  Leaves are green on top and purple spotted/streaked underneath, unlike regular Thai/Asian basil

Native Habitat & Ecology: 

Tasting Note: Fragrant, sweet basil aroma’s.

Culinary Uses: Eaten raw.  Smell this basil is to be reminded of a piping hot bowl of phỏ noodle soup.  These lusciously aromatic infused leaves are the most associated with phỏ and many common herb plates in Vietnamese cuisine.

Medicinal Uses: Antibacterial qualities

Propagation: By seed or from tender cuttings in soil or water.

Other Names: Vietnamese basil, hung que

Bitter Herb – Rau Dng 

Bitter Herb

Vietnamese Herb Name: Rau Dắng

Common Culinary Herb Name: No common culinary name has really been established.   We use Bitter Herb (Greens) from the literal translation of the Việt name.  Slender Carpetweed is occasionally used in scientific context of Glinus Oppitisifolus. Other references also identify this plant as Bacopa Monnieri (Scrophulariaceae family, Water Hyssop). Both botanical names above  fit the descriptions of the plant very well, so there is still uncertainty in it’s correct taxa. With some still limited resources, we will continue to research the true scientific identity of this plant. The above mentioned Bacopa Monieri is used commonly as an herbal pill, whose medicinal qualities have origins from Ayurvedic medicine. But our research shows that Glinus Oppositifolius  is also being used as a culinary herb with bitter tasting characteristics . So for now,  we identify the plant as that for the time being. If there is anyone out there with some more information to share regarding the scientific identity of this herb,  your input is appreciated.

Botanical Family & Herb Name : Molluginaceae, Glinus   Oppositifolius

Vegetative Description: Rau Dang is small, low sprawling, tender stems and smooth, round leaves.

Native Habitat & Ecology: Tropical Africa, Asia & Australia.  Common weed found in low lying areas of high water concentration.

Tasting Note: Bitter!

Culinary Uses: Rau Dang is most commonly as part of the vegetable platter used in hot pot dishes which are cooked directly on the table (Lậu).  Found on lettuce and herb plates for soups & stews.

Medicinal Uses: Dried rau dang leaves are burned & vapors repel mosquitos!  Fantastic essay by Huynh Van Quoc describes his childhood memories of this bitter herb. Malian cultures use it to treat fever, joint pains, malaria & other inflammations.

Propagation: Very easy from cuttings in water.

Other Names: Foo Yip (Cantonese)


Chinese Chives (flat leaf) – H 

Chinese Chives

Vietnamese Herb Name: Hẹ

Common Culinary Herb Names: Chinese Chives,  Chinese Leek

Botanical Family & Herb Names: Allium

Vegetative Description: Pictured above is the “leaf” type with slender, narrow flat leaves.  Base of stalk is tubular, gradually tapering flat.  The “flowering” type leaves are round & hollow throughout it’s whole length.

Native Habitat & Ecology: Southeast Asia

Tasting Note: Mild tastes somewhere between an onion, garlic & leek.

Culinary Uses: Cooked in soups, braised dishes, rolled in spring rolls, and chopped as garnish.  These fragrant, tender stalks come in many different varieties and are used commonly in many cuisines of the world.

Medicinal Uses: Good source of vitamin C and A (carotene)

Propagation: Sow from seeds.  Once established, the plant can be separated to create more plants.  Harvest early when leaves are tender for best flavor.

Other Names: Gui Chai (Thai), Gau Choi (Chinese), Ciboulette (French)


Cilantro – Ngò 


Vietnamese Herb Names: Ngò, Rau Mùi

Common Culinary Herb Name: Cilantro, Coriander, Chinese Cilantro, Chinese Parsley

Botanical Family & Herb Name : ApiaceaeCoriandrum  Sativum

Vegetative Description: Mature Ngo leaves are broadly lobed and new, tender leaves are slender and feathery.  The Ngo stems are exceptionally fragrant and have even better flavor than the leaves.

Native Habitat & Ecology: Between southwest Asia to north Africa, but has been found to grow wild in Southern Europe and many parts of South America.

Tasting Note:

Culinary Uses: Ngo is used as a garnish adorning anything from elegantly plated dishes to being finely chopped and tossed over soups. Ngo Cilantro is used liberally.  Also found wrapped in fresh spring rolls and eaten alongside many hand wrapped foods.

Medicinal Uses:

Propagation: Grown from seed.

Other Names: Phak Chii (Thai)


Dill – Thì Là 


Vietnamese Name: Thì Là

Common Culinary Name: Dill

Botanical Family & Name : Apiaceae, Anthenum  Graveolens

Vegetative Description: Finely divided, soft delicate, threadlike leaves.

Native Habitat & Ecology: Southwest, Central Asia & Europe

Tasting Note: Tastes like…dill!!

Culinary Uses: Used widely in Northern Vietnam.  It is often used to make a dill fish soup (Canh Chua Thì Là).  Also chopped up and blended with fish to make a round, fried, flat “patty” that is then cut and eaten cold (Chả Cá Thì Là).

Medicinal Uses: Aids indigestion

Propagation: By seed. Annual.

Other Names: Aneth (French), Aneto (Italian), Dill (German)


Edible Chrysanthemum – TÔ 

Edible Chrysanthemum

Vietnamese Name: Tần Ô, Rau Cú, Caỉ Cúc

Common Culinary Name: Edible Chrysanthemum, Garland Chrysanthemum, Chrysanthemum Greens, Chop Suey Greens

Botanical Family & Name : AsteraceaeChrysanthemum  Coronarium

Vegetative Description: Green, serrated looking leaves look much like the ornamental Chrysanthemum varieties, only broader and leafier.  There are also two other varieties:  One with round, thick leaves and the other has finely, feathery, serrated leaves with long, stalk like stems (komi shungiku salada in Japanese).

Native Habitat & Ecology: All throughout Asia

Tasting Note: Strong, bitter Chrysanthemum flavor

Culinary Uses: Chopped up and cooked in soups, used in sautes.

Medicinal Uses: Vitamin B rich

Propagation: Easily cultivated through seeds.

Other Names: Shungiku (Japanese), Tong Ho (Chinese)

Elephant Ear Stalks – Bc Hà 
Elephant Ear Stalks

Vietnamese Name: Bạc Hà

Common Culinary Name: Elephant ear stalks/stems

Botanical Family & Name: Araceae, Alocasia  Odora

Vegetative Description: Large bulbous (with rhizomes) plant with large palm like leaves and thick, spongy stalks.

Native Habitat & Ecology: Asia, South America

Tasting Note: The thick, spongy stems have a very mild, grassy flavor.

Culinary Uses: Stems (petioles) are peeled then cut up to cook in fish soups and some stir-frys. The sponginess texture of the stems absorb the flavors of the soup  and adds texture to the dishes. Medicinal Uses: Used medicinally to reduce sputum and the corm of the plant ground up to place in epileptic patients mouth to reduce attacks. Propagation: By seeds, cuttings or rhizome division

Other Names:

Elephant Ear was introduced to the United States in 1910as a substitute crop for potatoes. It was later cultivated as an ornamental, and today numerous varieties continue to be sold. Elephant Ear invades wetland areas and colonizes lake banks, forming dense growth. It out competes native species, thus altering natural habitat and ecosystem processes, reducing biodiversity.

Elephant ear leaves reach 2 – 3 feet in length and are heart or arrowhead-shaped, green to bluish-black between light-colored primary veins, all emerging basally from an underground stem, or corm. Petioles attach to the middle of the underside of leaf and are green to red, often violet, and can reach 4 feet. The corm is a starchy root reaching 6 inches in diameter and weighing up to 6 lbs. Flowers occur at the apex of a fingerlike flower stalk. Seeds are 2 – 5 per berry and are generally rare.


Fish Mint (Herb) – Diếp Cá 

Fish Mint

Vietnamese Names: Diếp Cá, Dấp Cá, Lá Giáp

Common Culinary Name: Fish Herb, Việt Fish Mint

Common Ornamental Names: Chameleon plant

Botanical Family & Name: Saururaceae, Houttuynia  Cordata

Vegetative Description: Vietnamese edible variety is all green (non-variegated), unlike most ornamental “ex. Chameleon” varieties of the same botanical family. Leaf are slightly heart shaped, with small, white flowers.

Native Habitat & Ecology: Japan, Southern China, Southeast Asia

Tasting Note: Strong fish aroma.

Culinary Uses: Not commonly used in American-Vietnamese restaurant dishes because of the bold fishy flavors. But it is very popular in home dishes of grilled meats, fish soup dishes. Also, usually eaten raw in herb noodle salads and fresh home-made fresh spring rolls.

Medicinal Uses: Treat stomach aches, indigestion and swellings. Leaves are crushed to a paste to cure insect bites, rashes & itching

Propagation: Cuttings can be soaked in water to encourage root growth, then planted into soil.  Spreads like a weed, so best grown in a container first.

Other Names: Chameleon plant (ornamental variety)


Lemongrass – X 

Lemon Grass

Vietnamese Name: Xả

Common Culinary Name: Lemongrass, citronella grass

Botanical Family & Name: Poaceae, Cymbopogon Citratatus

Vegetative Description: A long tough grass with sharp edged leaves.  Bulb and most of the stalk have a tough fibrous texture.

Native Habitat & Ecology: Europe, Asia, Africa, New Zealand & Australia.

Tasting Note: Grassy, citrus flavor.

Culinary Uses: Stalk & bulbs used fresh or dried.  Crushed and chopped to use as a marinade for grilled beef, stewed chicken and other curries.  Most common base flavoring for the spicy Huế Noodle soup (Bún Bò Huế).

Medicinal Uses: Tea help aid digestion, calming effect relieves tension in nervous system, insect repellent and a plethora of other medicinal uses.

Propagation: Easily propagated by planting bulbs into ground or pot.  For faster propagation, soak in water to encourage root growth first.  Once clumps become established, they can be separated to start more plants.

Other Names: Ta-krai (Thailand)


Pennywort – Rau Má 


Vietnamese Name: Rau Má

Common Culinary Name: Pennywort

Botanical Family &  Name: Araliaceae, Hydrodoctyle Asiatica (small) or Centella Javanica (large)

Vegetative Description: Rounded, slightly  rippled outside leaves.

Native Habitat & Ecology: Water loving plant native to warm temperate climates. Native to many tropical countries

Tasting Note: Grassy.

Culinary Uses: Blended along with sugar to make a refreshing, herbal juice.

Medicinal Uses: Purifies blood, relieves arthritis, cures nervous conditions .

Propagation: Best cultivated through seeds. Once established, hearty growth.

Other Names: Gotu Kola (Indian), Bai Bua Bok (Thai)


Peppermint – Húng Cay 


Vietnamese Name: Húng Cay

Common Culinary Name: Peppermint

Botanical Family & Name: Lamiaceae, Mentha Piperita

Vegetative Description: Simple, slightly toothed leaves, but slightly smoother than Spearmint.

Native Habitat & Ecology: Native to central, southern Europe & Asia

Tasting Note: A stronger, more bright mint taste than spearmint.  Think “mint ice cream” flavor.

Culinary Uses: Eaten raw.  Found on most common herb & salad plates. Used widely with spring rolls, salads, and almost anything family tradition dictates.

Medicinal Uses: Treatment for stomach ache & muscle relaxant.  Popular flavoring for gum, toothpaste, ice cream & tea.

Propagation: Easily propagated by cuttings in water or soil with quickly spreading root runners.  From seed produces a more tender leaf.

Other Names: Minze (German), Munt (Dutch)


Rice Patty Herb – Ng Ô

Rice Patty Herb

Vietnamese Names: Ngổ Ôm, Rau Ôm, Rau Ngổ

Common Culinary Name: Rice Patty Herb

Botanical Family & Name: Plantaginaceae, Limnophilia Aromatica or Chinensis

Vegetative Description: Thin, spongy stems have small fine hairs.

Native Habitat & Ecology: South East Asia.  Flooded rice fields, swamps,  warm watery environments.

Tasting Notes: Refreshing lemon, cumin

Culinary Uses: Most commonly used to cook in Sour Fish Soup (Canh Chua). Rice patty herb comes from a family of many other aquatic ornamental plants that bear the same scientific name.  Scientific names can often be often be used for other similar plants, particularly with the same species.  For the Limnophilia Aromatica plant that is used specifically in Việt cuisine, it should come from a source that is familiar with the Việt culinary variety.  You don’t want to accidentally buy the variety used to decorate fish tanks!

Medicinal Uses: Has diuretic properties & used externally to treat insect & snake bites.

Propagation: Very easy from cuttings in water.  Loves warm, humid and wet growing conditions to establish well.

Other Names: Shui fu wong (Mandarin), Seui Fa (Cantonese)


Sawtooth Herb – Ngò Gai 


Vietnamese Name: Ngò Gai

Common Culinary Names: Sawtooth Herb, Mexican/ Wild /Thorny coriander, Culantro

Botanical Family & Name: Apiaceae, Eryngium  Foetidum

Vegetative Description: Long, slender green leaves with serrated edged leaves.

Native Habitat & Ecology: Native Mexico, Central & South America

Tasting Note: Strong cilantro flavor

Culinary Uses: Usually found on herb plates accompanying Phỏ and Crispy Crepes (Bánh Xeò)

Medicinal Uses: Tea to stimulate appetite, soothes stomach pain, improves digestion

Propagation: By seed.

Other Names: Phak Chii Farang (Thai)


Sorrel – Rau Chua 


Vietnamese Names: Rau Chua, Lá Chua

Common Culinary Name: Common Sorrel,  French Sorrel

Botanical Family & Name: Polygonaceae, Rumex Acetosa(French Sorrel) or Scrutatus (Garden Sorrel)

Vegetative Description: Broad long leaves with wavy edge.

Native Habitat & Ecology:

Tasting Notes: Sour, tart

Culinary Uses: The introduction of this herb is relatively new to Việt Cuisine. Families that use it, normally add it to the fresh raw herb plates to be eaten with soups or spring rolls.  Those who are not too familiar with it consider often find it too “sour” for their taste.

Medicinal Uses: Laxative.  Said to be beneficial for scurvy.

Propagation: By seed.

Other Names: Gonggoora or Ambada Bhadji (Indian)


Spearmint – Húng Lũi 


Vietnamese Names: Húng Lũi

Common Culinary Name: Spearmint, Common Mint

Botanical Family & Name: Lamiaceae, Mentha Spicata

Vegetative Description: 

Native Habitat: Much of Europe, Mediterranean  and Asia

Tasting Note: Tastes like…mint!

Culinary Uses: Eaten raw. Found on most common herb & salad plates.  Used widely with spring rolls, salads, and almost anything family tradition dictates.

Medicinal Uses: Tea treatment for stomach ache, promotes digestion, colds & flu.

Propagation: Easily propagated by cuttings in water or soil with quickly spreading root runners.  From seed produces a more tender leaf.

Other Names: Sa-Ra-Nay (Thai)

Vietnamese Balm – Kinh Gi

Vietnamese Balm

Vietnamese Name: Kinh Giới

Common Culinary Name: Vietnamese Balm, Vietnamese Lemon Mint

Botanical Family & Name: Lamniaceae, Elsholtzia  ciliata

Vegetative Description: Leaves are usually a brilliant green with serrated edges.

Native Habitat & Ecology: South East Asia

Tasting Note: Lemon scented flavor with a suggestion of mint.  Because of it’s lemon flavor, we prefer to call it “Vietnamese Lemon Mint” or “Vietnamese Lemon Balm”.

Culinary Uses: Eaten raw in a variety of soups and meat dishes. Also found on herb plates.

Medicinal Uses: Used in tea for soothing properties and leaves used in steam baths for better skin.

Propagation: Grown from seed or rooting mature stem in water or soil.

Other Names:


Vietnamese Coriander – Rau Răm 

Vietnamese Coriander

Vietnamese Name: Rau Răm

Common Culinary Name: Vietnamese coriander/cilantro, Vietnamese mint, false mint,

Botanical Family & Name: Polygonaceae, Polygonum (Persecaria)   Odoratum

Vegetative Description: This trailing plant has long, slender leaves with a slight dark coloration in the center.

Native Habitat & Ecology: South East Asia

Tasting Note: Coriander like, spicy, musky, and slightly lemony & bitter.

Culinary Uses: Commonly eaten raw in salads and many duck related dishes, especially with boiled Fetus duck eggs (Hột Vịt Lộn).  Also found on most common herb plates.

Medicinal Uses: Used to treat indigestion, stomach aches & swelling. Known to have ability to reduce fertility.

Propagation: Water loving plant.  Easily roots with cut stem in water.

Other Names: Laksa leaf (Singapore)


Vietnamese Crab Claw Herb – Rau Càng Cua 

Vietnamese Crab Claw Herb

Vietnamese Names: Rau Càng Cua

Common Culinary Name: Vietnamese crab claw herb, salad pepperomia

Botanical Family & Name: Pepperomia Pellucida

Vegetative Description: Small, crawling plant with shiny, slightly heart shaped leaves. Succulent stems and leaves with long flower spikes. Leaves are slightly heart shaped, tapering to a point at the ends.

Native Habitat: Asia

Tasting Note: Very fragrant, floral, slightly spicy

Culinary Uses: Stir fried with beef and tossed in various salads.

Medicinal Uses:

Propagation: Easily propagated by cuttings in water or soil with quickly spreading root runners.

Other Names:


Vietnamese Perilla – Tiá Tô 

Vietnamese Perilla 2  Vietnamese Perilla

Vietnamese Name: Tiá Tô

Common Culinary Name: Vietnamese Perilla,  Perilla

Botanical Family & Name: Lamiaceae, Perilla  Frutescens?

Vegetative Description: Leaves are green on top, purplish color on the bottom.  Broad finely haired leaves with slightly serrated edges.  The beautiful contract in colors makes this plant a great display.

Native Habitat & Ecology: India & East Asia

Tasting Note: Earthy & bold flavored. Also in in the mint family.

Culinary Uses: Eaten raw alongside soups, tossed in salads, and grilled dishes.

Medicinal Uses: Chinese medicine to stimulate body’s immune system

Propagation: Easily propagated using young cuttings in water or soil.  From seed produces a more tender leaf, you just have to wait longer.

Other Names: Shiso (Japanese Perilla-it is related to but slightly different from most marketed shiso.)

These leaves are purple on one side and green on the other.  They have a pleasant, peppery flavor that tastes a bit like cinnamon.  Vietnamese cooks often add them to soups at the last minute.  Substitutes:  shiso OR sweet Asian basil


Watercress – Xà Lách Son 


Vietnamese Name: Xà Lách Son

Common Culinary Name: Watercress

Botanical Family & Name: Brassicaceae, Nasturtium  sp.

Vegetative Description: Shiny green leaves grow on central stem with terminal leaf being the largest. Leaf edges are slightly wavy.

Native Habitat & Ecology: North America, Europe & Central Asia

Tasting Note: Grassy, peppery

Culinary Uses: Eaten along side noodle soups or found on lettuce and herb plates to wrap with fried or grilled foods.

Medicinal Uses: Aids digestion, mild stimulant & antioxidant

Propagation: By seed.  Loves water environments or very moist soil.

Other Names:

Wild Betal Leaf – Lá L
Wild Betel Leaf  Wild Betel Leaf 2

Vietnamese Name: Lá Lốt

Common Culinary Name: Wild Betal Leaf

Botanical Family & Name: Piperaceae, Piper Sarmentosum or Betle

Vegetative Description: Shiny & slightly heart shaped, bright green leaves.

Native Habitat & Ecology:

Tasting Note: Smoky, slightly bitter & hot-like

Culinary Uses: Leaves are wrapped around small, slender ground beef rolls, then grilled (Bò Lá Lốt). Also eaten with vegetables & other boiled meats.

Medicinal Uses: Antiseptic, breath freshener, cures headaches, toothaches and sometimes used as an antibiotic. Also used to treat rheumatism, indigestion & diarrhea

Propagation: By cuttings.

Other Names: Cha Phloo (Thai)