Southeast Asian Pesto made with Fresh Herbs

a bowl of pesto served alongside fresh basil, mint, cilantro and lemon


An Asian inspired pesto

Traditional Basil pestos are my jam!  Although, for some reason, it still annoys me when my husband uses it as a condiment on pasta dishes – I have no idea why, because obviously it is a sauce by itself!  Nevertheless, we always keep a jar on hand in the fridge for extra flavor on a sandwich, in a pasta dish, dipping sauce, you name it.

However, as great as these traditional Italian-based sauces are, could there be an Asian equivalent?  Perhaps, one fresh green sauce for boring rice noodles, ho-hum Vietnamese Banh-Mi, or even something to cool down fried wontons hot from the fryer?  For that kind of sauce, we’ll need more than just basil and Parmesan cheese.

We’ll need cilantro!


Thai Basil!


Fresh Mint!




AND ALWAYS….Garlic!  Of course!


All the flavors of South East Asia.


Liven it up

 If you are in the mood to liven up your veggies, rice noodle dishes or sandwiches, then this fresh herb pesto is for you.  Mix it with vinegar and olive oil for a nice herby vinaigrette for a salad topped with fresh seafood or use it as a dipping sauce.  The options are endless, and if you fancy something more traditional then you’ll find something a little similar (found on many dinner and restaurant tables all across Asia), try Chinese Chili Oil.  BUT, as for this sauce, I love to pair it as a dip to fried shrimp spring rolls or even as a spread on a sandwich.  Try it for yourself and decide.



a bowl of pesto served alongside fresh basil, mint, cilantro and lemon

Puree until smooth in a blender or food processor. Season with salt to taste, chill for an hour and serve.



fresh herbs and other ingredients in a tall container
Combine fresh herbs with the rest of the ingredients in a food processor.
pureed green sauce in a container
Blitz together until smooth.
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a bowl of pesto served alongside fresh basil, mint, cilantro and lemon

Southeast Asia Inspired Fresh Herb Pesto

  • Author: Spicepaw
  • Total Time: 6 minutes
  • Yield: about 1 cup 1x


A pesto inspired by the flavors of Southeast Asia and made from fresh cilantro, basil and mint. Adds zest to fried wontons, spring rolls, noodle salad or any sandwich. #pesto #healthy #lemon


  • 50 g fresh cilantro (about 1/2 cup packed down)
  • 50 g fresh sweet basil leaves (about 1/2 cup packed down)
  • 50 g fresh mint leaves (about 1/2 cup packed down)
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • sea salt


  1. Wash and dry herbs.
  2. Remove mint and basil leaves from stem.
  3. Cut roots off of cilantro.  Keep leaves and stems intact.  No need to pick off leaves.
  4. Combine all ingredients together (except salt) and puree in a blender or food processor until smooth.
  5. Season with salt to taste.
  6. Chill in the refrigerator and let marinate for an hour before eating.
  • Prep Time: 5 min
  • Cook Time: 1
  • Category: Sauce, Condiment
  • Method: Puree
  • Cuisine: Asian

Keywords: Pesto, mint, cilantro, basil, lemon, garlic

Fan of different kinds of pesto? Try Red Pesto made with Roasted Red Peppers and Cashews.

Author: Natasha

I'm just a busy expat mom who has a psychological need to feed people. I enjoy learning about new cultures, (especially the food) and enjoy experimenting with new ingredients and spices

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