Persicaria Odorata, Daun Kesum (kesum leaves), Vietnamese Mint, Vietnamese Coriander, Rau Ram (Vietnamese), Phak Phai (Thai) or Pak Phaew (Laos). This is one of my favourite herbs!
It’s lemony, spicy, tangy, and captures so much that is South East Asian Cooking, hard to put into words!
There is no substitute.
It is the identifying aroma of Laksa:
How to grow your own Laksa Leaves (Daun Kesum)
It’s extremely easy to propagate but if you don’t live in the tropics, it needs to be kept indoors – even in the summer – as it doesn’t like chilly evenings. If you are lucky enough to get fresh ones, just snip off a couple of stems at an angle, leave in a glass of water and, within days, you’ll see roots forming. Then, just pot it up with some compost.
Edit (Feb 2017): Daun Kesum problems
These last 2 – 3 years, I’ve had the odd trouble with growing my laksa leaves (as they are sometimes also called). For over a decade, I studiously watered them with either rain water or mineral water, because the water is very hard where I live. Then I got lazy, the leaves started turning, lesson learnt.
Then one year, no matter what I did, within days of potting a healthy shoot, it would turn brown. Then it occurred to me after months of frustration that I was and had been using an unglazed claypot, compared to the glazed one you see above. Was that why? Well, I had no way to prove it, because that was also about the time we gave away our plants, sold the house and went travelling for a few months.
But now, we’re back, in a new house, which is colder than our old house ever was. My plant was doing extremely well, even in the conservatory (heated). Then, we had 2 – 3 weeks of freezing weather, something we are not accustomed to for more than a day or two usually. That was about the time the leaves stated drying up and going brown in parts. I brought the plant into the house, and it has been sitting next to the Kaffir Lime for a week or so. The lime is thriving, incidentally.
But it’s still turning and drying. So, I’ve trimmed it right down, to healthy looking parts. Am going to re-pot it and fingers crossed. I’ll update in a month or so. If you have any thoughts, or advice, I would love to hear them. Please!
Edit (April 2017): Daun Kesum problems
Still the same problems, even with the milder temperatures. I have 1 pot at the moment, as a last ditch attempt, I’ve kept it out of direct sunlight, and it currently lives in the dining room. It gets a reasonable amount of light but not bright light. In the late afternoon, it gets weak rays. Touch wood, this one seems to be fairly happy, it’s growing and the leaves are not drying up. It’s pretty spindly though, which is probably the lack of light. It is also missing the customary shaded middle on the leaves.