Aromatics & Asian Vegetables

When learning our family’s recipes, you’ll find an array of herbs and vegetables that you may not have come across before. I completely understand – it can be overwhelming, especially when the names are unfamiliar. Trust me, grocery shopping with Grandma in Asian supermarkets and learning the vegetable names in Chinese then cross-checking them to match their English-equivalent was no easy feat!

It was well worth it though, and now I get to present my FINALISED list to you! Below are herbs and vegatables you will find in our recipes along with their names and images that can be easily shown to shopkeepers.

Stay tuned for updated recipes that you just cannot miss!

Herb/VegetableDescriptionAppearanceCan't Miss Recipes
Thai Basil (English)
Húng quế (Vietnamese)
Taste: licorice- and anise-like, mildly spicy
Use: Typically as a garnish or condiment. Also can be mixed in with Asian salads.
- Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (Phở)
- Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls (Gỏi Cuốn)
- Vietnamese Chicken and Cabbage Salad (Gỏi gà)
Bitter Melon/Bitter Gourd (English)
涼瓜 (loeng gwaa; Cantonese)
苦瓜 (kǔguā; Mandarin)
Khổ qua (Vietnamese)
Taste: Bitter
Use: Stir fries, soups and teas
- Vietnamese Stuffed Bitter Melon Soup (Canh Khổ Qua)
- Bitter Melon Omelette
Chinese Broccoli (English)
芥兰 (gai lan; Cantonese)
Cai rô (Vietnamese)
Taste: Similar to broccoli with a slight bitterness
Use: Stir fries, boiled and steamed
- Steamed Chinese Broccoli with Oyster Sauce
Wombok (English)
Napa Cabbage (English)
紹菜 (siu choy; Cantonese)
Taste: Mildly sweet, similar to cabbage
Use: Stir fries and soups
- Napa Cabbage Soup
- Stir Fried Napa Cabbage and Pork Mince
Coriander (Engish)
芫茜 (jyun sai; Cantonese)
Rau Mùi (Vietnamese)
Taste: Musky with an overlay of citrus
Use: Condiment to dishes, often served fresh
- Chinese Pork Belly Burger (肉夹馍)
- Vietnamese Meatball Baguette (Bánh Mì Xíu Mại)
Galangal (English)
南薑 (naam goeng; Cantonese)
Riềng (Vietnamese)
Taste: Spicy and peppery, similar to ginger
Use: Cooked and infused into dishes
- Malaysian Satay Chicken Skewers
Chrysanthemum Greens (English)
茼蒿 (Cantonese)
Tần Ô (Vietnamese)
Taste: Mildly sweet, similar to cabbage
Use: Condiment to noodles and hot pot
- Vietnamese Prawn and Pork Noodle (Hủ Tiếu)
Garlic Chives (English)
韭菜 (gau choy; Cantonese)
Hẹ Tỏi (Vietnamese)
Taste: Similar to garlic and onion but milder
Use: Condiment to dishes
- Vietnamese Seafood Gumbo (Bún Mắm)
- Pork and Garlic Chive Dumplings
Ginger (English)
薑 (gurng; Cantonese)
Gừng (Vietnamese)
Taste: Spicy, warm, mildly zesty
Use: Cooked and infused into dishes
- Glutinous Rice Balls in Ginger Syrup
- Ginger Soy Chicken
Hairy Gourd (English)
冬瓜 (dong gua; Cantonese)
Bí Dao (Vietnamese)
Taste: Sweet, almost bland, with flavours mildly resembling the summer squash
Use: Stir fried or cooked in soups
- Stir Fried Hairy Gourd with Dried Shrimp and Bean Threads
Japanese Pumpkin (English)
南瓜 (naam gwaa; Cantonese)
Bí (Vietnamese)
Taste: Buttery and sweet, a mixture of sweet potato and pumpkin
Use: Stir fried, steamed or cooked in soups
- Pumpkin Soup
Jicama (English)
沙葛 (Cantonese)
Cây Củ đậu (Vietnamese)
Taste: Sweet, similar to that of apple and nashi
Use: Added to recipes for an added sweet flavour
- Wonton Egg Noodle Soup
- Spring Rolls
Betel Leaf (English)
Lá Lốt (Vietnamese)
Taste: Slightly bitter and peppery
Use: To wrap ingredients
- Vietnamese Grilled Beef in Betel Leaf (Bò Lá Lót)
Lemongrass (English)
香茅 (heurng muw; Cantonese)
Cộng Sả (Vietnamese)
Taste: Minty, lemony and citrusy
Use: Finely chopped and cooked into dishes
- Vietnamese Spicy Beef Noodle Soup (Bún Bò Huế)
- Steamed Lemongrass Pork Belly and Shrimp Paste
Long Coriander (English)
Ngò Gai (Vietnamese)
Taste: Similar to coriander but more intense
Use: Added to as a garnish to soups
- Vietnamese Sour Fish Soup (Canh Chua Cá)
Lotus Root (English)
蓮藕 (lin ngau; Cantonese)
Ngó Sen (Vietnamese)
Taste: Sweet, similar to that of apple and nashi
Use: Added to recipes for an added sweet flavour
- Lotus Root and Pork Soup (莲藕排骨汤)
- Vietnamese Lotus Root Salad (Gỏi Ngó Sen)
Mustard Green (English)
芥菜 (gaai choy; Cantonese)
Taste: Mildly spicy and sweet
Use: Stir fried, in soups or pickled
- Pickled Mustard Greens with Fried Fish
Okra (English)
秋葵 (cau kwai; Cantonese)
đậu bắp (Vietnamese)
Taste: Similar to eggplant and has a slimey interior
Use: Steamed, stir fried or added to soups
- Vietnamese Sour Fish Soup (Canh Chua Cá)
Pennywort (English)
崩大碗 (bung dai woon; Cantonese)
Rau Má (Vietnamese)
Taste: Bitter
Use: Blended into a drink
- Pennywort Juice
Perilla (English)
Tiá Tô (Vietnamese)
Taste: Peppery with hints of licorice and anise
Use: Added to salads or wraps
- Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls (Gỏi Cuốn)
Snowpea (English)
荷蘭豆 (ho laan dau; Cantonese)
Taste: Sweet, similar to sugar snap peas
Use: Stir fries
- Stir Fried Snow Peas in Garlic
- Stir Fried Beef and Snow Peas
Spring Onion (English)
蔥 (chong; Cantonese)
Hành Lá (Vietnamese)
Taste: Similar to onion but milder and sweeter
Use: As a garnish
- Poached Chicken with Ginger and Spring Onion Oil (白切鸡)
Taro (English)
芋頭 (wu tau; Cantonese)
Khoai Môn
Taste: Creamy and nutty
Use: Added to recipes for a creamy texture and nutty flavour
- Spring Rolls
- Vietnamese Duck with Fermented Tofu Noodle Soup (Vịt Nấu Chao)
Chinese Lettuce (English)
Vietnamese Lettuce (English)
生菜 (sang choy; Chinese)
Xà lách (Vietnamese)
Taste: Similar to lettuce
Use: As a wrap
- Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls (Gỏi Cuốn)
- Chinese Lettuce Wraps (Sang Choy Bao; 生菜包)
Water Chestnut (English)
馬蹄 (maa tai; Cantonese)
Taste: Sweet, similar to apple and nashi but with a crunchier texture
Use: Stir fries, boiled
- Egg Flower Water Chestnut Dessert Soup (蛋花馬蹄糖水)
Water Spinach (English)
通菜 (ong choy; Cantonese)
Rau muống (Vietnamese)
Taste: Mildly sweet
Use: Stir fries, boiled
- Stir Fried Water Spinach (Ong Choy) with Fermented Bean Curd
- Stir Fried Water Spinach (Ong Choy) with Shrimp Paste
Watercress (English)
西洋菜 (say yeung choy; Cantonese)
Xà lách son (Vietnamese)
Taste: Mildly peppery and sweet
Use: In salads and in soups
- Watercress Soup (西洋菜汤)
- Watercress and Warm Beef Salad (Bo Xao Sa Lat Song)
[Purple] Yam (English)
Khoai Môn (Vietnamese)
Taste: Similar to potato but with a nutty and slimey overlay
Use: In salads and in soups
- Vietnamese Purple Yam Soup (Canh Khoai Mỡ)
Mung Bean (English)
綠豆 (luk dau; Cantonese)
Đậu xanh (Vietnamese)
Taste: Similar to lentils and has a mild nutty flavour
Use: Boiled, turned into a paste
- Deep Fried Sesame Balls with Mung Bean Filling (Bánh Cam)
Ginkgo Nuts (English)
白果 (bak gor; Cantonese)
Taste: Mildly bitter and sweet with a hint of nuttiness
Use: Boiled in soups and desserts
- Tofu Skin and Ginkgo Nut Dessert Soup (白果腐竹糖水)