Despite the common name, it is not exclusively native to Vietnam and nor is it even remotely related to the mints. Vietnamese Mint has pointed leaves which are darker than standard mint. They are sometimes lightly variegated with a dull dark red. Vietnamese mint, also known as “Vietnamese coriander”, “Cambodian mint” and “laksa leaf”, has a strong flavour, and as the name suggests, is used a lot in Asian cooking. It also boosts the taste with noodles (soup) dishes.
The Vietnamese name is rau ram, while in Malaysia and Singapore it is called daun kesom or daun laksa (laksa leaf). In Thailand, it is called pak pai.
The leaves have a pungent lemony flavour, quite distinct from other herbs and spices. In Malaysian cuisine, the leaves are used to flavour laksa, a spicy soup noodle dish.
I was first introduced to this mint through a friend. I treasure this mint so much that I freeze them for future use. Besides using them for laksa and curry, I added them to tea leaves making my own brew of Vietnamese Mint tea.
For some reason, these very fragrant herb is not easily available in our local nurseries and plant barns. I took some cuttings from my friend and managed to get some roots on a couple after putting them in water. Fingers crossed I may be able to grow my own Vietnamese Mint soon.
Vietnamese Mint contains antioxidants and vitamins C and A. They may be use to treat indigestion, stomach aches and swelling.
If you have never tried this herb before, I strongly encourage you to give it a try. It has got such a distinctive taste that you will ask for more !