Culinary Creations: Sawtooth Coriander

I know of many who will take pains to pick coriander out of their food. I for one, love nothing more than a big bunch of it on top of my noodles or salad! As it may be difficult for true coriander to thrive in our tropical climate, sawtooth coriander is a great alternative one can grow on a sunny or bright windowsill or balcony for a healthy supply of fresh herbs.

Sawtooth coriander leaves Sawtooth coriander leaves

To get many seeds for a whole row of sawtooth coriander plants, let it flower and cut off the stem when the seed is brown. Thereafter, nip out the first signs of a flower appearing so the plant uses all of its energy to produce leaves rather than flowers and seeds. The edges of its leaves are prominently serrated, resembling a saw, hence its common name.

Sawtooth coriander flowers Sawtooth coriander flowers

The aroma and taste of a sawtooth coriander leaf are similar to, but much stronger than that of true coriander. Used in Latin America and Southeast Asia, you will encounter it in salads, soups, sauces, curries and in particular, fish dishes. Try making this traditional Vietnamese dish featuring sawtooth coriander called pho cuon, or “pho in a roll”!

Soft Noodle Rolls with Beef and Sawtooth Coriander

Soft Noodle Rolls with Beef and Sawtooth Coriander Recipe extracted from Cooked
  • 300g beef fillet
  • 500g fresh flat rice noodle sheets, measuring 10cm by 20cm
  • 1 bunch Thai basil, leaves picked
  • 1 bunch sawtooth coriander, leaves picked
  • 1 bunch rice paddy herb, leaves picked
  • 2 long red chillies, julienned
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 lemongrass stem, finely chopped, white part only
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 red Asian shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seed
  • ½ tsp sesame oil
  • 60 ml vegetable oil

Serves 4-6 people

  1. Freeze the beef for 1 to 2 hours to make it easier to slice very thinly. Then cut it across the grain, ideally 1 mm thick per slice.
  2. Make the marinade by combining the fish sauce, sugar, pepper and a pinch of sea salt in a mixing bowl and stirring. Add the remaining marinade ingredients and mix well.
  3. Coat the beef in the marinade, then cover and set aside at room temperature for 20 minutes.
  4. In a frying pan or chargrill pan over medium heat, sear the beef slices for about 30 seconds on each side, or until browned. The beef should be cooked to medium.
  5. Place a rice noodle sheet on a chopping board, with the shorter end closest to you. Then place some Thai basil, sawtooth coriander and a piece of beef along the base of the sheet. Place a stem of rice paddy herb and some chilli on top, positioning them so they are sticking out of the roll a little.
  6. Roll the rice noodle sheet tightly to enclose the herbs and beef, and continue till you reach the top. Repeat with the remaining rice noodle sheets and filling ingredients.

Written by: Debbie Chen, Assistant Director (Education, Programming)

Debbie is an ardent reader who often finds herself nose-deep in a dystopian novel. She has been involved in education since graduating from university, and enjoys bringing information to people in an engaging way that helps them see things in a new light.

This article is part of our Culinary Creations series.