I’m one of those gardeners who loves to try growing herbs I haven’t before. So when I saw a plant known as Vietnamese coriander or mint, I was very interested. The sign said it had a flavor similar to cilantro, but could take the heat of high summer. I had to try it.
The “mint” had me a bit concerned, but I knew it was a tender plant that couldn’t survive below freezing so I planted it in my herb bed. It grew well that 1st summer, and I used it in a few dishes like sweet sriacha grilled pork. It tasted great.
The next year I thought I would need to buy the plant again but found out what all those pretty flowers did. I had volunteer plants. “Cool!” I won’t need to buy any. Year 2 went fine with about 4 plants growing and I continued to enjoy it. Then came a very mild winter. Year 3 was a bit different. I had this stuff coming up in my herb bed like it was grass!! (I kid you not.)
So I pulled most of it out. Not that hard to do, but I still ended up with about 10 plants, so I set out to find more uses for it. I did like it, but rarely used that much for any one meal. So one day I searched for more recipes and saw something called Ram Rau. It is the Vietnamese name for this herb (I think).
I also found a sauce you can make with it. This one only used a small amount of my herb and used mainly Thai basil. I didn’t have any Thai basil. What would it be like if I just used the Ram Rau? I decided to try a slightly different version. Instead of peanut butter, I used almond butter (just what I had at the time). Did it all in my food processor in about 10 minutes. Wow-I couldn’t believe how great it tasted! I was hooked!
I had a new kind of ramen noodle from Costco that came in a bag with individual “bricks”. Made with millet and brown rice, organic too. I stir fried some veggies, threw in some leftover pork I chopped up, cooked the noodles and poured a Ram Rau sauce all over it all.
You would have thought my family hadn’t eaten for a week! My oldest son declared it the best thing I had ever made. Pretty easy and so so tasty. I started to think I didn’t have enough plants because the recipe uses 2-3 cups of the leaves to make the sauce. I did an experiment where I put some sauce in a small container and froze it for about a week. When thawed, it was still good. No separation problems and flavor was still spot on!!
After that I started harvesting the leaves and making batches of the sauce through out the summer. Now I’m hoping I have enough to get me through the winter and spring.
If you love a good Ramen bowl and you have a spot to grow stuff. Get your hands on this plant! It is so worth it.
2 cups Vietnamese mint (Rau Ram) leaves
3/4 tsp garlic powder (roasted garlic powder if you have it) or 2 cloves fresh garlic crushed or diced
1 Tbs almond butter
2 tsp fish sauce
1-2 Tbs lime juice
salt and pepper, to taste.
Remove the Rau Ram leaves from the plants and wash well. Spin dry if you have a salad spinner or toss in a colander as best you can to dry them.
Place all the ingredients in your food processor and put on the lid. Slowly add 5-7 Tbs canola oil until a smooth sauce comes together. Adjust seasonings–add salt, pepper and more lime juice if you want.
Prepare your choice of stir fried vegetables and meat if you like and your favorite Ramen noodles.
Combine the cooked noodle, stir fry and pour the Ram Rau over it. Toss until everything is well coated. I like to serve it with just a dab of garlic chile sauce on top! Enjoy.