I make this Thai basil laksa leaf pesto in large batches when we have to prune our Thai basil and laksa leaf (Vietnamese mint) plants. It doesn’t contain any cheese, but the fish sauce (I like Red Boat) provides the umami kick that you’d otherwise get from the parmesan in a traditional pesto. I store some in the fridge and freeze the rest so that there’s always some close at hand.

For very little effort, this simple Thai basil laksa leaf pesto adds an instant party of flavours to pastas and noodles, stir-fries (prawns, squid, fish or beef), and sandwiches. It’s great slathered over barbecued meat or seafood. And I wouldn’t be averse to the idea of having it with a nice hunk of steak served Japanese-style, in bite-sized pieces, either. Even though the recipe calls for significantly less laksa leaf than Thai basil, the distinct flavour of laksa leaf is quite prominent. When the occasion calls for it, I add some chilli and ginger sambal or sriracha to give it a more assertive heat.

If you’re looking for a more classic pesto recipe, check out Dawn’s cashew nut pesto here.

About Su-Lyn Tan

Su-Lyn is Aun's better half and for many years, the secret Editor behind this blog known to readers simply as S. Su-Lyn is an obsessive cook and critical eater whose two favourite pastimes are spending time with her three kids and spending time in the kitchen. She looks forward to combining the two in the years to come.


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7 January 2013


Thank you for this recipe, Su-Lyn. Thankfully, I saw it early enough to get the ingredients form the market and made it for lunch today. I left out the sambal; absolutely divine as is. So easy and quick to make. I used vermicelli and the sauce coated every strand perfectly.

This pesto also works beautifully as a sandwich spread on toasted baguette. Tried it with some left-over ham from Christmas. For this, the sambal might have been good for the extra kick. Still, it was YUMMY!!!

Thank you 🙂

Dear Mahita, thank you for your feedback! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. It’s a really versatile pesto. For a ham sandwich, perhaps another quick option would be to mix Japanese mayonnaise with sriracha and have that on one slice of bread while spreading the pesto on the other slice 🙂 Or Thai sweet chilli sauce plus pesto on roast beef.

I super love this recipe. I’m toying with the idea of using curry leaves instead? Cos I have a huge plant and never know what to do with all those leaves (apart from making curry). I will definitely be trying out this pesto recipe asap!

Hi Dawn, do let us know how your experiment with curry leaves go 🙂 I have a curry plant that supplies me with more leaves than I need, too.

What would you use for the laksa leaves if they were not available? Thai basil I can get easily in the US. Laksa not so much. Looks really good and yummy.

Dear Susan, you can do without the laksa leaves. But you might want to double check at Asian grocery stores. They may be sold as Vietnamese mint/Vietnamese coriander/rau ram?

I just checked out Vietnamese cuisine expert, Andrea Nguyen’s blog over at Viet World Kitchen. Andrea is based in Northern California. It does seem to be available in some parts of the US. Please refer to her Vietnamese Herb Primer.

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