Thursday, 2 March 2017


“Once your belly is full, you can achieve anything.” – Vietnamese proverb 

Persicaria odorata, the Vietnamese coriander, is an herb whose leaves are used in Southeast Asian cooking. Other English names for the herb include Vietnamese mint, Vietnamese cilantro, Cambodian mint, hot mint, laksa leaf, and praew leaf. Its Vietnamese name is rau răm, while in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore it is called daun kesum, daun kesom, or daun laksa. In Thailand, it is called phak phai. In North-East India, Manipur state uses this as garnishing herb over various cuisines such as Eromba and Singju. It is neither related to the mints, nor is it in the mint family Lamiaceae but the general appearance and odour are reminiscent of them. Persicaria is in the family Polygonaceae, collectively known as smartweeds or pinkweeds.

Vietnamese coriander is a perennial plant that grows best in tropical and subtropical zones in warm and damp conditions. In advantageous conditions, it can grow up to 15–30 cm. The top of its leaf is dark green, with chestnut-coloured spots, while the leaf’s bottom is burgundy red. The stem is jointed at each leaf. In Vietnam, it can be cultivated or found in the wild. It can grow very well outside in summer in non-tropical Europe. It prefers full sun and well-drained soil. It should be brought inside for winter and treated as a houseplant. It rarely flowers outside the tropics.

Above all, the leaf is identified with Vietnamese cuisine, where it is commonly eaten fresh in salads (including chicken salad) and in raw gỏi cuốn, as well as in some soups such as canh chua and bún thang, and stews, such as fish kho tộ. It is also popularly eaten with hột vịt lộn (fertilized duck egg). In the cuisine of Cambodia, the leaf is known as chi krasang tomhom and is used in soups, stews, salads, and the Cambodian summer rolls, naem. In Singapore and Malaysia, the shredded leaf is an essential ingredient of laksa, a spicy noodle soup, so much so that the Malay name daun laksa means “laksa leaf”. In Laos and certain parts of Thailand, the leaf is eaten with raw beef larb.

In Australia, the plant is being investigated as a source of essential oil (kesom oil). This oil contains aldehydes such as decanal (28%) and dodecanal (44%), as well as the alcohol decanol (11%). Sesquiterpenes such as α-humulene and β-caryophyllene comprise about 15% of its oil. C-Methylated homoisoflavanones can be found in the rhizomes of P. odorata.

Traditionally, in Vietnam, the herb is believed to repress sexual urges. A saying in Vietnamese states, “rau răm, giá sống” (Vietnamese coriander, raw bean sprouts), which refers to the common belief that Vietnamese coriander reduces sexual desire, while bean sprouts have the opposite effect. Many Buddhist monks grow coriander in their private gardens and eat it frequently, believing it helps them remain celibate. No scientific studies have measured P. odorata’s effects on libido.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme,
and also part of the Food Friday meme,
and also part of the Weekend Green meme.


  1. Beautiful photo and plant!
    We know it as polygonum odoratum, grows only in pots, our winter are to cold... and in the kitchen I haven't yet used it.
    I haven't joined in Floral Friday this week - have too many to do in tzhe garden now in beginning spring and not much time for blogging. Will back next week.

  2. Nicholas, what an interesting article. Thank you. In my recent move, I lost your email address. Would you please email me at ? (new email address). I have a message. Thanks, kiddo.

  3. The Blossom ist so beautiful, I don't know this plant, but youre Post ist very interesting for me!

  4. Beautiful blossoms; I've never seen it!
    Greetings, Lena