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Help me identify those herbs?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

I was at the Asian market and got some herbs for a vietnamese grilled beef salad, only I have no idea what they're called. I just tasted and grabbed what I thought would work, but I'd be curious to know what they're called? 





So here I'm talking about the one on the far right, with leafs that are burgundy-colored on one side and green on the other: My best guess is tía tô, which is the Vietnamese Perilla?


Next the one immediately on its left, so right below the two red chilis: that tasted like some sort of mint or basil. My best guess is some form of Vietnamese mint or basil....? 

Edited by French Fries - 11/14/12 at 1:43pm
post #2 of 7

Yes, the one on the right is perilla.


The one you identified as a basil is also correct but I can never remember which is holy basil and which is Thai basil. It is one or the other. (The Vietnamese markets in my neighborhood often have both for sale.) I think it is Thai basil. Holy basil is the purple one, I think.) The basil will root if you put tips with a bit of stem in a glass of water.


Vietnamese mint has rounded, wrinkled, kind of fuzzy leaves--and doesn't keep very long at all. (Actually, I believe that is what is on the far left in your picture, next to the cilantro.)

post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thank you for your help! I thought the one on the far left was "regular" mint... those herbs did die very, very quickly. Every time I've had Thai Basil the stems were burgundy color. 

post #4 of 7

What did you think of the perilla? I bought some as an experiment last time I made a beef salad and I wasn't crazy about it mixed with the other herbs. It was too assertive, even though I only used a little. I'm not sure I would like the flavor of it even in small doses.  It is a very pretty plant, though. It also doesn't keep well.


As to the basil--there are hundreds of varieties of basil. What they call Thai basil in my local market may or may not be the same as what they sell as Thai basil in your market. I live on the edge of Little Saigon in Chicago and only one of the local markets bothers to label things in English.  I take the English labels with a grain of salt sometimes. (My favorite label is "old duck.")  I admit, I've not made the effort to learn the Vietnamese names for things.

post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

I liked the perilla! I thought it brought something new to the plate. At the end of the day I'd used quite a bit of sugar to pickle the carrots and kohlrabi, a bit more sugar in the dressing, chilis for spice, a pretty fatty cut of beef... so the herbs helped cut into all that. 


I hear you on Asian markets. They are treasures to be found there but good luck deciphering asian labels, asking the clerks or finding a translation... you're pretty much on your own. Which is kinda fun in its own way. 


There was also another herb that tasted kinda odd, I hesitated a couple of time and ended up not bringing it home... maybe next time I should give it a try. After a bit of research it appears the herb was "Fish Mint" - and it did kinda taste a bit fishy. Have you ever tried that? Now that I wouldn't really know how to use, but it seems... well interesting. eek.gif

post #6 of 7

Wow! Haven't seen anything labeled fish mint. I'll have to look. There are so many leafy things in those markets that leave me clueless that it's astounding.


What I wish I could find is Kaffir lime leaves. There was a market selling the trees this past summer but they were $60 and according to what I could find about raising them, they do not fare well indoors in winter and they wouldn't survive a Chicago winter outdoors. I couldn't bring myself to spring for one when keeping it alive sounded so iffy. There is a little Thai market in my neighborhood as well but I've never seen the leaves there, either. I read somewhere that it was illegal to import them for a time because they could carry some kind of citrus disease but I also read that the ban has been lifted, which seems likely, since they were selling the trees. I'll have to check the Thai market again.


I like shopping in markets where things are mysterious. My biggest question in my neighborhood: I always want to ask the Vietnamese women flipping through the bins of live crabs and clearly rejecting most of them what the criteria are for picking a particular crab when all of them seem pretty lively to me.

post #7 of 7



I was in one of my local markets today and what they call fish mint in your market is called "fishy chick" here.

There is another herb called "lady's thumb." 

I have no idea what either is used for but I liked the translations of the names.

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