You either love it, or you hate it. When it comes to cilantro, I add it to anything and everything; it’s rare when this delicious herb isn’t a part of my meal prep. So was I open to growing a variety in my herb garden that I had never tried before? Hell, yeah! Don’t mind if I do.
Native to Southeast Asia, Vietnamese coriander is a semi-aquatic plant that likes tropical or sub-tropical climates where it is warm and damp.
Still, it performs well in my North American, summertime climate. It helps that it’s been so humid; what started as a small cluster has quickly turned into a shrub at the base of my tomatoes.
Its long stems grow upright and produce blade-like leaves. While many of them are green in color, some also have maroon markings at the base.
Flavor And Nutrition
Also known as Rau Ram, Vietnamese coriander is similar in taste to fresh cilantro, only there are some serious hints of citrus and spice in it. It’s bold, so incorporate it into meals that have stronger flavors.
I admit there’s somewhat of a soapy smell and taste to it, but it’s still delicious. For more on why so many of us like or hate the taste of soap, read this.
I’ve added it to salads for some extra kick, but it’s also great in stir-fries, curries, homemade spring rolls, soups, and more.
According to Speciality Produce, Vietnamese coriander is especially tasty when paired with tomato, coconut, ginger, chili peppers, yogurt, chicken, duck, and whitefish. It also has some medicinal values; a natural anti-inflammatory, Rau Ram can help treat indigestion and tummy aches.
How It Grows
This herb likes warm weather and doesn’t perform well as a cool-season crop. Plant it in an area that gets full sun to part shade, and give it plenty of water.
Vietnamese coriander can grow up to 24 inches high and 12 inches wide, so give it some space too. It grows quickly; unlike other herbs like basil or regular cilantro, you’ll only need one of these in the garden for a steady supply for your meals.
Don’t have a garden? Rau Ram also does very well in containers. If you do have it planted outdoors, save it from the first frost by digging it up and placing it in a pot in a sunny, warm spot in the house to enjoy all winter
I’ve never been able to find Rau Ram in my Canadian supermarkets, but now have it growing in abundance in the garden. You’ve got to love that.