Dotted across Australia are international gardens complete with herbs and spices that provide iconic cultural cuisines. In the back streets of suburbs, tucked behind fences and overgrown shrubs, culinary treasures are hidden from the onlookers' gaze and provide the staple flavours and foods for their owners.
In a shaded Brisbane back garden measuring a humble nine by ten metres, no less than eighteen herbs and vegetables are grown. Every nook and cranny is utilised, with pots and tubs squeezed into corners and brimming with lush green edibles. The Nguyen family have created a highly productive garden in this small space.
(All efforts have been made to retain correct character reproduction to English characters from native Vietnamese)
Bạc Hà – Elephant Ear Stalks (Colocasia gigantea 'Bac Ha')
Húng Lũi – Green Mint / Spearmint (Mentha spicata)
Khổ Qua – Bitter Melon
Lá Dứa – Pandan (Pandanus amaryllifolius)
Lá Lốt – Wild Betel Leaf
Mồng Tơi – Malabar Spinach
Muop – Chinese Okra / Loofa (Luffa aegyptiaca)
Ngò Gai – Sawtooth Coriander (Eryngium foetidum)
Ngò Om – Rice Paddy Herb (Limnophila chinensis subsp. aromatica)
Rau Càng Cua – Crab Claw Herb
Rau Dên – Amaranth Leaf (Amaranthus sp.)
Rau Má – Gotu Cola / Pennywort
Rau Ngót – Sweet Leaf / Katuk (Sauropus androgynus)
Rau Quế – Asian Basil (Ocimum basilicum 'Licorice')
Rau Răm – Vietnamese Mint / Laksa Herb
Tiá Tô – Perilla / Shiso Leaf (Perilla frutescens)
Xả – Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)
Xà Lách Son – Watercress
RECIPE – Bo La Lot
(Betel Wrapped Beef)
One bunch of Betel leaves
1.4 kg topside steak finely sliced
4 stalks lemon grass (just the white base section)
1 medium onion finely chopped
2 tsp crushed garlic
3 Tbs oyster sauce
1 Tbs chilli oil
1 Tbs sesame oil
1 Tbs olive oil
Mix all ingredients other than Betel leaves by hand and leave to marinate for 30 minutes.
Lay 2 Betel leaves per wrap (1 large + 1 small) and place a small spoonful of this mixture on the leaves. Roll the leaves up around the mixture.
Attach 6-8 rolls per skewer depending on the thickness of the rolls.
Smear on one side with olive oil.
Grill over a barbecue or frypan, or place in an oven preheated to 180ºC. After 10 minutes, flip the skewers over, smear with olive oil and roast for another 10 minutes.