Get to Know the Rice Paddy Plant

Chowhound user BenIsHere has the awesome habit of buying ingredients without knowing what they are; later, he scans Google to see if he can ID them and figure out what to do in the kitchen. But one recent purchase was a mystery only fellow Chowhounds could solve: What is the citrusy, sweet-tasting herb pictured here?

In fact it's kayan (also kayang), commonly known as rice paddy plant. Some Vietnamese cooks call it ngo om, seamunky says—it's delicious in sour soup with tamarind and fish, added at the last minute to preserve its delicate, quickly evaporated flavor. Though tea is not a traditional use for the herb, HillJ loves the rare treat of rice paddy plant tea, and even kneads the chopped leaves into bread dough.

But BenIsHere's experiment was sort of a dud. He added rice paddy plant to a frittata, but long cooking destroyed the delicate flavor. Next time, he's using it in a Vietnamese recipe.

Discuss: What herb did I buy?

Photo by BenIsHere