South-East Asian cuisine encompasses the refreshing and often pungent fragrances and flavours of Burma, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand cooking. Dishes are mostly an amalgamation of four contrasting flavours of hot, sour, sweet and salty and herbs play an important role in this fusion. Here are some commonly used herbs of South-East Asia.
Coriander is used abundantly in South-East Asian cooking. It provides a freshness and a sweet flavour to dishes. Coriander prefers a well drained soil in a sunny position and should be watered regularly.
Lemon Grass (biannual)
Lemon grass is rich in vitamin A and is great when added to salads and fish dishes. Lemon grass grows to 1 1/2 metres in tight clumps and the white stems are harvested for stir fries or stews. Lemon grass likes a full sun position and plenty of moisture. Harvest lemon grass leaves to make a wonderfully fragrant tea.
Lemon Basil (annual)
Lemon basil gives a great lift to salads and stir fries. Plant in a sunny position and water it regularly. Harvest leaves regularly to promote more leaves and pick off flower and seed heads to keep plants compact. Beware of frost.
Use dill fresh in soups and stir fries. Seeds can be chewed for a breath freshener. Plant in a sunny position and water and fertilise regularly.
Vietnamese mint (perennial)
Vietnamese mint is a pungent herb also known as polygonum, hot mint, laksa leaf or Vietnamese coriander. Traditionally, it is commonly served with noodle soups.Vietnamese mint is readily available in garden centres. It is a prolific grower and performs best in a semi- shaded position with plenty of water.
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