Hong Kong Supermarket's Herb Bin: Fish Mint

You may recognize the heart-shaped leaves and weird aroma of this Vietnamese herb. It's called dap ca, or fish mint in English. You often get fish mint on the herb plate when you order bo nuong xa, the popular dish that comes with lemongrass-marinated beef, herbs, shredded carrots, cucumbers and rice paper sheets. The roll-your-own entrée is known by many Anglo Houstonians as "Vietnamese fajitas."

Crush a leaf of fish mint between your fingers and see what you think it smells like. Observers seem to experience the aroma differently. About half of the people quizzed say it smells like fish. The other half say it smells like a rusty cast iron skillet. I have to admit, I love the stuff mixed in with the chile peppers, cilantro and basil on my Vietnamese fajitas -- it gives the flavor another dimension.

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