When I was growing up in Saigon, our family table was always adorned with a platter of aromatic herbs: We used them as wrappers for grilled, pan-fried, and steamed foods and as salads, and we’d sprinkle them into soup. Here in California, I tuck Thai basil into turkey sandwiches, and I bring a stash of Vietnamese coriander to eat with dim sum.
Spring and summer are when you’ll find them fresh—mainly at Asian markets, and at some farmers’ markets. Store them in a plastic bag in the warmest part of your refrigerator, wash them right before using, and slice with a lightweight, very sharp knife to prevent bruising. — Mai Pham