This has pointed leaves which are darker than standard mint. They are sometimes lightly variegated with a dull dark red. Vietnamese mint, also known as “Vietnamese coriander”, “Cambodian mint” and “laksa leaf”, has a strong flavour, and as the name suggests, is used a lot in Asian cooking.
Growing: Vietnamese mint is a perennial and should be planted in a warm sunny position and keep the soil moist at all times. It grows rapidly and needs cutting back to encourage bushier growth as the stems get very long with few leaves if left to its own devices. This plant quickly forms a large clump, but doesn’t send out underground suckers as other mint plants do. Pick individual leaves or stems as required.
Storage: Remove any wilted or discoloured leaves. Place the Vietnamese mint, stems down, in a small container of water and place a plastic bag over the leaves. It can be refrigerated for up to a week. Be sure to change the water every couple of days. To dry hang small bunches upside down in a cool dark place for about two weeks then store in an airtight container. Vietnamese mint is not suitable for freezing.
General Use: Vietnamese mint can be used as a substitute for coriander. It is great in soups, stir fries, with fish and can be eaten fresh in salads. It is an essential ingredient in the popular spicy Asian soup laska. It can also be used raw in salads.
Laksa Soup: Start by preparing the Laksa Paste: Lighty toast the coriander seeds and cumin seeds in a dry fry pan then grind them with a mortar and pestle or a small spice blender. Put into a blender and tumeric powder, finely chopped onion, grated ginger, coconut cream, crushed garlic, finely chopped lemon grass, finely chopped hot chillies and fish sauce. Blend until smooth.
Now prepare the soup: Add coconut cream to a large saucepan and add laksa paste. Stir together and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add chicken stock and fish sauce and bring back to the boil. Add the diced chicken and poach it gently for 5-6 minutes until cooked. Blanche noodles in boiling water to heat them up and then divide them between 4 bowls. Add a handful of Vietnamese mint, hot chillies, bean sprouts, chopped spring onions and lime juice. Pour the laksa over the noodles and serve.