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Rice Paddy Herb (Ngo Om)
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Ngo Om, pronounced No Ohm, is described as indescribable. Some say it offers a light citrus lemon flavor with earthy cumin undertones that is described as "sweet cumin". Others say the flavor is more like curry and lemon. Ngo Om has even been described as "soapy" by some who find it inedible. Ngo Om has succulent and spongy stems with fine hairs and features bright green, long linear leaves with super fine serration and a bright citrus aroma.
Ngo Om is available year-round in Vietnam.
Ngo Om, botanically known as Plantaginaceae limnophila aromatica, is also commonly known as rau om and ba om or rice paddy herb and is a member of the plantain family. The botanical genus name limonphila is Greek in origin and translates to "pool loving", descriptive of the plants native growing regions in swamps. There are 36 species of limnophila aromatica found growing wild in waters in Southeast Asia, Ngo Om is one found primarily cultivated in flooded rice fields in Vietnam.
Ngo Om is commonly placed in the center of the traditional Vietnamese dinner table along with other herbs and raw vegetables to be added to ones own discretion to dishes like pho soups or curries. Ngo Om can also be sauteed or steamed like a leafy green, cooked into sweet and sour sauces or blended into a refreshing cantaloupe and tamarind cold soup. Ngo Om can be torn and tossed into salads, added to marinades for meats or even muddled into a refreshing cocktail. Traditionally used in a sweet and sour fish soup, Ngo Om can be utilized in many fish sauces and poaching liquid to add a specific citrus-cumin flavor and aroma.
Ngo Om has a deep cultural place in its uses for medicinal purposes throughout Asia including treatment of menstrual problems, dysentery and indigestion. In China it is used as a treatment for intoxication and pain relief. Malaysia utilizes Ngo Om as an appetite stimulant, fever reducer and expectorant to remove mucus from the respiratory system. Indochina uses Ngo Om in treatment of wounds and Indonesia for an antiseptic in the treatment of worms.
Ngo Om is native to swamp-lands in the regions ranging from China to Australia. Ngo Om was introduced into North America by Vietnamese refugees in 1975 after the Vietnam war.
Recipes that include Rice Paddy Herb (Ngo Om). One is easiest, three is harder.
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