Rau Ram

baby red pepper co. 2/11/16
Rau Ram is a bitter perrenial herb, growing to 18-30 inches in well drained, composted soil. It is often referred to as Vietnamese Coriander. Its botanical name is Periscaria/Polygonum Odorata. It is a bitter, slightly musky herb with overtones of lemon and coriander.
 
Interestingly, Rau Ram contains several compounds, among them dodecanol and decanol, which function as flavor enhancers.
 
From a folk medicine perspective, the herb is used to treat indigestion and stomach upset. It may function as an anti-inflammatory. Rau Ram is thought to reduce libido. This may explain why you'll find it in just about every Buddist monestary garden throughout Vietnam.
 
From a culinary standpoint, you will find the herb incorporated into rice paper rolls, salads and soups where a bitter counterpoint is sought. Rau Ram is also a great addition to the platters of herbs which accompany pho. Nutritionally, the plant is an excellent source of Vitamin A, B and C as well as two phytochemicals with antioxidant properties. The plant is high in potassium and calcium.
 
Rau Ram is becoming more available in specialty Asian foodstores, but can be a bit hard to find unless they carry a good variety of Vietnamese and Laotian ingredients.
 
The good news is that it is a perennial that I've some had luck overwintering as far North as Zone 4-5.  Seeds and plants are now readiliy available online. Cuttings can be dug and transplanted to 10" or larger pots and brought indoors under strong lights. The plant cuttings easily root in a glass of water.
 
One word of caution, rau ram is not a tidy plant. It spreads like mint, so two or three plants is all you'll need for a season. It is best to confine to its own area with good drainage. It loves regular watering and a light mulch.  A full sun, semi-sheltered run along a wall or foundation is a good spot...just don't put it along a neighbor's fenceline, they may not appreciate the  invasive nature of this herb.