Rau Ram is a semi-aquatic, herbaceous plant with long upright stems that sprout soft blade-like leaves. The green leaves have a smooth satiny finish and occasionally exhibit a maroon crescent marking at the base. The round stems are jointed at each leaf in coarse woody sections. The flavor of Rau Ram is very similar to cilantro with musky notes of citrus and spice.
In subtropical climates Rau Ram can be sourced year-round.
Rau Ram is botanically classified as Persicaria odorata and commonly referred to as Laksa plant, Daun Kesum, Vietnamese coriander or Vietnamese mint, though it is not a member of the mint family. Rau Ram is actually a member of the Polygonaceae, or buckwheat family. It is closely related to knotweed, whose classification refers to the shape of its stem, which is composed of many joints linked together by slightly bent knots. Poly meaning “many” and gony translating in Greek to mean “knee”, a nod to the jointed segments that line the stem of the plant.
Rau Ram contains natural anti-inflammatory properties and may be used to treat indigestion and stomach aches.
Rau Ram can be used in the same manner as cilantro as it has similar texture, aromatics and flavor. It is best used fresh, and rarely dried or cooked for long periods of time, as its aroma and flavor diminish with heat. It may be wrapped up in fresh spring rolls or added to pho, laksa soup, curries and stir fries as an herbal garnish. Complimentary flavors include, tomato, coconut milk, citrus, ginger, mint, lemongrass, chile peppers, yogurt, peanut, sesame, chicken, duck, lamb and white fish.