Vietnamese cilantro is a plant that’s native to Southeast Asia, where its leaves are a popular culinary ingredient. It has a taste similar to the cilantro normally grown in America, with the added bonus of being able to thrive in the summer heat.
The Vietnamese cilantro plant (Persicaria odorata syn. Polygonum odoratum) is also frequently called Cambodian mint, Vietnamese coriander, and Rau Ram. It’s not the same thing as the cilantro usually eaten in Western cuisine, but it is similar. In Southeast Asian cooking, it’s actually more often used in the place of peppermint. It has a very strong, smoky flavor and, because of its strength, should be used in quantities about half that of cilantro. The biggest benefit to growing Vietnamese cilantro over “regular” cilantro is its ability to take the summer heat. If your summers are at all hot, you’re likely to have trouble growing cilantro and keeping it from bolting. Vietnamese cilantro, on the other hand, loves hot weather and will grow straight through the summer.