When I saw some Vietnamese herbs on sale at my usual grocery stop, I was excited. I know some Vietnamese supermarkets sell these herbs (and probably at a cheaper price), but these same supermarkets are often out of the way for me and I can't usually make a special trip.
also known as Vietnamese coriander, hot mint, daun laksa, daun kakok, daun kesum, laksa leaf.
also known as Mexican coriander, thorny coriander, culantro, saw-leaf herb, saw-tooth herb, recao, Tabasco parsley.
Finally, culantro (C-U, not C-I-lantro) in the flesh! This tasted similar to cilantro. As for the rau ram, I don't exactly know how to describe it, as the taste was quite foreign to me.
For more information on these herbs, visit Andrea Nguyen's Vietnamese Herb Primer at VietWorld Kitchen.
left: ngo gai; right: rau ram
We didn't actually have any idea what we liked to do with the herbs. Finally, after a couple of days languishing in our fridge, we decided to do a simple version of Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup).
We made this in basically the same way we make Pho Bo (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup).
We charred some ginger and onion, then added them to some chicken stock (made from carcasses). In went fish sauce and sugar, as well as star anise, cloves and a cinnamon stick. That simmered for a bit until the broth was nice and fragrant.
We poached a chicken breast or two and shredded the meat.
I picked leaves of rau ram and thinly chiffonade-d the ngo gai, as I was afraid its saw-teeth may injure us while eating. =)
We didn't have much else in terms of garnishes -- that is, we didn't have anything in the house! No bean sprouts; no hot peppers; no green onions. But, I managed some thinly-sliced onions, Thai basil, cilantro, and black pepper-crusted lime wedges.
For a bowl of pho ga, add cooked rice noodles, some broth, shredded chicken, sliced onions, the herbs, and a black pepper-y lime wedge.
close-up of the herbs: cilantro, Thai basil, rau ram/laksa leaf, ngo gai/culantro.
This was very light, yet deeply flavorful. Sort of like pho bo! =) It's certainly quicker to make, so it's a good go-to version when one is craving the flavors of pho.
For a recipe and step-by-step photos, visit Wandering Chopsticks.
Wandering Chopsticks: Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup)
Vietnamese food at eatingclub vancouver
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Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup)
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For showcasing NGO GAI/SAW-TOOTH HERB/CULANTRO and RAU RAM/LAKSA LEAF, we're submitting this post to Weekend Herb Blogging, a world-wide food blogging event (created by Kalyn's Kitchen, now maintained by Haalo of Cook (almost) Anything at Least Once) with the goal of helping each other learn about cooking with herbs and plant ingredients.
If you'd like to participate, see who's hosting next week. WHB is hosted this week by Winnie of Healthy Green Kitchen.