Lemongrass is a perennial grass that grows in clumps. There are about 55 species, most of which are native to South and South-East Asia. In India, it is cultivated as a medical herb and for perfumes, but not used in cooking; in Sri Lanka and throughout South-East Asia it is an important culinary herb.
While the stalk itself is too hard to eat, the soft inner part adds a tangy citron flavour to curries and stir-fries. The new leaves can be chopped and used to flavour dishes, or infused as a tea.
A pale yellowish green stalk with light mauve hints in the centre; also known as citronella. Look for firm stems that don’t look too dried out.
Vietnamese mint has a distinct and strong flavour, with a peppery fire. It has a smooth, attractive leaf with a long, tapering shape. With dark green colouring, the leaves have a deep, almost purple shadowing. Look for full bunches with fresh and perky-looking leaves.
Vietnamese mint is an essential ingredient in Singapore Laksa.
Also known as Moroccan spearmint, applemint or sage of Bethlehem. Mint has more than 30 different species, comprising peppermints and spearmints and originated in Ancient Greece, but the Romans introduced the herb to the rest of the world as an air freshener.
This versatile herb is easily found and commonly used in Thailand in salads, as a garnish or in curries. Buy bunches with bright firm leaves; avoid limp or black leaves. Store in a glass of water in the fridge for up to 1 week.