grass (Rice paddy herb, Limnophila aromatica
Plant family: Scrophulariaceae (figwort family, snapdragon family)
Origin: Several species of Limnophila are found in silent waters
Southeast Asia; some of them are common aquarium plants in the West.
In Vietnam, rice paddy herb is mostly cultivated in flooded rice
A related species, Limnophila rugosa (Roth) Merril (syn. L.
roxburghii , Herpestris rugosa Roth) has anis-scented leaves; it is
used for culinary purposes only occasionally (Jawa)
Used plant part: Fresh leaves.
Sensoric quality: This herb has a unique flavour difficult to
describe. It is definitely lemony, with a certain tickling quality.
Use: Rice paddy herb is one of the many culinary herbs used only or
predominantly in Vietnamese cuisine.
The intense, almost sparkling lemon odour of this plant harmonizes
almost perfectly with fresh water fish. In the South of Vietnam, it
is mandatory for spicy fish soups (canh chua ); the herb is not
cooked, but served raw and coarsely chopped as part of the herb
garnish that accompagnies any South Vietnamese food. Canh chua is
basically a milder version of the fiery Thai soup, tom yam which is
more often prepared not with fish but with shrimps;it is usually
eaten as a meal for itself with some fresh French bread (baguette );
often, the pot is placed in the center of the table and each diner
dips the bread into the soup.