Good substitute for culantro (sawtooth herbs)?
Hi all: Hope someone can help. I notice the sawtooth herb or culantro cannot always be found easily, even in Vietnamese supermarkets. I don't think it's available year-around in North America. Any suggestion for a substitute? I love the taste and texture of this herb in my pho and feel my bowl is not complete without it.
My opinion is there's really no sub for this culantro/sawtooth herb (ngò gai). It has such unique taste and crunch, but also next to no smell, that when eaten together in pho, the whole experience is heaven!!! I think this is why restaurants in NA (especially in cold winter places) that can't get it would not serve any other substitute herbs just to fill that side plate. If they don't have, then they don't have it.
I agree with @HaleyAx87 that there really is no good sub for culantro. But if you can share the reason for your question then I can provide a better and more useful reply than just to say there is no substitution. Are you located in an area with no reliable supply at the supermarkets?
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Encountered a pho place with subbed herbs. It was dead winter so I assumed there was no fresh Thai basil or culantro. Also bean sprouts were off, more like American style/alfafa (I think) sprouts. There's no way to make fresh tropical vegs, fruits and herbs available in the cold and snowy Northern hemisphere.
If you can't find the right herbs than it's better eating just pho wihtout a substitute, otherwise the taste will be way off. Pho with the right herbs can become enhanced, but pho with the wrong herbs becomes a different dish and taste.
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