Limnophila aromatica - RICE PADDY HERB – Rau om, Rau ngo (Vietnamese) An aromatic small leafed herb used fresh in Vietnam to garnish and flavor soups & curries. It is native to Southeast Asia, where it flourishes in hot temperatures.
It can be grown in containers or pond edges with no more than a few centimetres of water over the soil (particularly in flooded rice fields). Needs protection from frost, available all year.
Limnophila aromatica has a flavor and aroma reminiscent of both lemon and cumin. It is used most often in Vietnamese cuisine, where it is called ngò ôm. It is an ingredient in canh chua, a sweet and sour seafood soup which also includes tamarind, and is sometimes also added as an accompaniment to the popular Vietnamese noodle soup called pho.
Cultivation of Rice Paddy Herb
Site: In Vietnam, rice paddy herb is mostly cultivated in flooded rice fields. Because it is grown in high temperatures with high humidity, rice paddy herb cultivation is a true challenge outside the tropics.
Propagation: Get fresh stems from another plant (usually can be found at a Thai or Vietnamese grocer). Place stems in water. Roots will form within a couple of weeks. While they are rooting, they must be covered with a plastic bag (specialty veggie or produce bags work great) to ensure humidity. Place in a shadowy but not dark place as sunlight will kill at this phase.
Growing: When enough roots have been formed, plant the stems into a very tall, clear glass or plastic container filled with soil to cover most of the roots. (You could probably take sheet of thick plastic and make a long tube. That would work too. A mixture of ordinary soil plus small bits of porous clay pots. Keep the plants warm and humid. After a few days, they will able to take intense sunlight or partial sunlight.
CLICK HERE for another suggestion on growing the rice paddy herb.
Culinary Uses: Rice paddy herb is one of the many culinary herbs used only or predominantly in Vietnamese cuisine. The lemon aroma pairs beautifully with fresh water fish. In South Vietnam, it is used in a sweet sour fish soup. The herb is not cooked, but served raw and coarsely chopped as part of the herb garnish that is used in South Vietnamese dishes.