Vietnamese Herbs & Vegetables

Paul Plant

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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.

Vietnamese Herbs
(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 (Momordica charantia)
Lá Dứa – Pandan (Pandanus amaryllifolius)
Lá Lốt – Wild Betel Leaf (Piper sarmentosum)
Mồng Tơi – Malabar Spinach (Basella alba)
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 (Peperomia pellucida)
Rau Dên – Amaranth Leaf (Amaranthus sp.)
Rau Má – Gotu Cola / Pennywort (Centella asiatica)
Rau Ngót – Sweet Leaf / Katuk (Sauropus androgynus)
Rau Quế – Asian Basil (Ocimum basilicum 'Licorice')
Rau Răm – Vietnamese Mint / Laksa Herb (Persicaria odorata)
Tiá Tô – Perilla / Shiso Leaf (Perilla frutescens)
Xả – Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)
Xà Lách Son – Watercress (Nasturtium officinale)

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.

From a 8 page Feature Article in Issue Twenty Seven
Pandan (Pandanus amaryllifolius).
Crab Claw Herb (Peperomia pellucida).
Perilla / Shiso Leaf (Perilla frutescens).
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Okinawa Spinach

Arno King




Okinawa Spinach is also known as Red Vegetable, Hung-tsoi (China), Hong-keng-cai (Taiwan) or Kinjiso, Handama and Suizenjigusa (Japan), is an attractive perennial vegetable.

Gynura bicolor is native to Southern China, Taiwan, Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand. It was introduced into Japan in the middle of the 18th Century and is now a traditional autumn vegetable in the southern prefectures. The plant in cultivation, Okinawa Spinach, is a sterile clone which must be grown from cuttings and is superior in flavour to the wild form.

The narrow, dark green pointed and serrated leaves have purple undersides. The plant has a creeping growth habit. It forms a low vigorous spreading groundcover or shrub rooting where the nodes touch the soil. The plant produces orange-yellow flowers in summer which attract butterflies but produce no viable seed.

From a 2 page Feature Article in Issue Twenty Seven
At market - stems make great cuttings.
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Claire Bickle




This vegetable family consists of some of the worlds favourite and most consumed vegetables such as, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale and brussels sprouts – well maybe not so favourable amongst some.

'Nero Di Toscana', 'Purple Sicily', 'Red Dutch', 'Spring Raab', 'Romanesco' and 'Savoy' are just a minute handful of cultivars of various popular vegetables grown worldwide belonging to the Brassicaceae family.

It also includes in its horticultural family tree, popular edibles such as radish, swedes, kohl rabi, mustard, canola, rocket and turnip.
Given such a diverse family group, this article will discuss four of the more popular vegetables and how to successfully grow them in a warm climate – broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and kale.

There are tips for warm climates.

The article also covers briefly how to grow:

  • Broccoli – Brassica oleracea var. italica
  • Cabbage – Brassica oleracea var. capitata
  • Cauliflower – Brassica oleracea var. botrytis
  • Kale – Brassica oleracea var. viridis
From a 2 page Feature Article in Issue Twenty Seven
Savoy cabbage.
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Canistel - Yellow Sapote

Barbara Beerling



Canistel or Yellow Sapote (Pouteria campechiana) is in the family Sapotaceae. An evergreen tree, it is native to southern Mexico and Central America where it is often found at or below 1400 m in elevation.

It is commercially cultivated in other countries, such as Brazil, Taiwan and Vietnam for its fruit.

The word 'sapote', derived from the Aztec word tzapotl, is a term commonly used for a soft, edible fruit. The word is incorporated into the common names of several unrelated fruit-bearing plants native to Mexico, Central America and northern parts of South America.

These include Black Sapote (Diospyros digyna) and White Sapote (Casimiroa edulis).

Topics also covered:

  • Culture
  • Climate and Soil
  • Pests and Diseases
  • Harvesting
  • Fruit Uses
  • Propagation

There is also a recipe for Canistel Scones!

From a 2 page Feature Article in Issue Twenty Seven
The rich apricot flavoured fruit can be eaten raw or added to other recipes.
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Wild Currant

By the Queensland Bushfood Association
Graeme White
Recipe John King


Download this Bushfood Recipe as found on p.67 of STG Issue 27.

Bushfood 27


Previous articles have discussed how common names given to bushfood plants by early European settlers have often been unimaginative and misleading. The Native Currant is a good example.

Known as 'Maranggang' and 'Ahakeye' by local indigenous people, these names may be difficult for many of us to vocalise but they give the fruits the uniqueness they deserve.

Of all the Native Currants, the species in the genus Antidesma are amongst our tastiest bushfoods.

Belonging to the family Phyllanthaceae, the genus Antidesma consists of about 170 species worldwide, 5 of which occur in Australia.

The best performing species for tropical and subtropical climates is Antidesma erostre which is endemic to the rainforests of north-eastern Queensland.

From a 2 page Feature Article in Issue Twenty Seven
Aussie Currant Cup Cakes.
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