Vietnamese mint; Vietnamese cilantro; Vietnamese coriander

This pungent herb is not really part of the mint family—in fact, its characteristics are closer to that of its other popular name, Vietnamese coriander. It has a peppery spiciness with hints of cilantro, citrus and mint. The fresh leaves, which are dark green with tan spots on the top and purplish red on the bottom, are frequently used in Vietnamese cooking. Look for it in Vietnamese markets; it may be under its Vietnamese name, rau ram. Choose leaves with no sign of wilting and refrigerate for up to 1 week in a plastic bag. Or place the bunch, stems down, in a glass of water and cover with a plastic bag, securing the bag to the glass with a rubber band. Refrigerate, changing water every 2 or 3 days. Just before using Vietnamese mint, wash and pat dry with paper towels. Both the leaves and relatively tender stems can be used in fresh or cooked dishes. This herb is also called Cambodian mint, hot mint and Vietnamese cilantro.

From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.

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