Vietnamese Herb: Rice Paddy Herb | Ngò Ôm

The Rice Paddy Herb is not as known in Western cultures as Thai Basil or Cilantro. But it is extremely
popular in Southeast Asia. The Rice Paddy Herb is a tropical plant that loves hot temperatures and watery environments. In Vietnamese, this herb is called Ngò Ôm. It has a very distinct citrus and cumin aroma and it is a key ingredient is many Southeast Asian soups.

In Vietnam, it is one of the garnishes of Canh Chua – a traditional Vietnamese sweet and sour soup that balances all tastes in one bowl. Even though the Rice Paddy is used as a garnish, it lends the Canh Chua soup such a distinct flavor profile, it really is a key ingredient in my books! One cannot call it Canh Chua. if Rice Paddy Herb is not present.

Our most beloved Pho soup, specifically Beef Pho, is also served traditionally with Rice Paddy Ngò Ôm in Southern parts of Vietnam alongside Thai Basil and bean sprouts. However, Pho restaurants in the U.S. usually serve it only with Thai Basil as Rice Paddy Herb is not as readily available.

Most people say that this herb is the best substitute for cumin, whether you’re cooking a Vietnamese or non-Vietnamese food. Though the herb is commonly used in seafood and soups, it also goes well with salad. Rare sesame beef salad with lemongrass, lime, peanuts and Rice Paddy Herb. It’s refreshing and flavorful! In my family, we just keep it simple by having this tasty herb stir-fried with beef and serve it over steamed rice. A simple yet delicious, healthy and comforting dish.

This herb is not hard to find in Asian markets. Next time you get buy some, put a few stems in water and within days, you will see roots. Once roots are about 1 inch long, you can plant it in well hydrated soil. Remember that the Rice Paddy Herb naturally grows in watery environments like flooded rice fields so keep the pot moist. Almost no risk of over-watering this beautiful and tasty plant.

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