Are you a hungry traveller? For foodies on the hunt for new flavours, Vietnam serves up a delicious blend of French, Laon, Cambodian, Chinese and Thai-influenced cuisine, making it one of the most gastronomical destinations out there.
Vietnam fast food(ie) facts:
- Vietnamese cooking follows the yin-yang concept of five flavours: sweet, spicy, sour, salty and bitter.
- Traditionally, Vietnamese food is created using a range of staple ingredients: rice, coconut, ginger, garlic, chilies, fish sauce and fragrant herbs.
- Staple ingredients are often paired with small pieces of meat, fish and poultry which may be stir-fried, steamed or even stewed in clay pots.
- Tomatoes, peanuts, coffee, yogurt and butter were introduced into Vietnam’s cuisine by the French – including baguettes!
Each region of Vietnam has its own culinary specialty, with cherished recipes passed down from one generation to the next.
- Southern Vietnam features an abundance of rice, fresh fruit and vegetables, coconut and sugarcane in its cuisine, which is spicier than other regions.
- Central Vietnam has a colder climate which calls for more extravagant, heavier dishes that harken back to the noted gourmand Emperor Tu Dac and feature thicker noodles and spicier broths.
- Northern Vietnam is even colder and uses less meat; its cuisine focused on fish and vegetables with heat provided in the form of local black pepper.
What’s on the menu in Vietnam? Gourmand travellers have a veritable buffet of unique dishes to try. These are some of the most common dishes you’ll see when travelling Vietnam:
The signature dish of Vietnam, Pho is a salty broth of fresh rice noodles and chicken or beef, sprinkled with herbs. It’s cheap, tasty and widely available.
Go crazy for Goi Coun
These spring roll parcels are packed with green vegetables, slices of meat or prawns and coriander and traditionally dunked in fish sauce.
Pancakes with the X factor… Bahn Xeo
These “sizzling pancakes” (in Saigon) or “happy crepes” (in Hue) are an authentic Vietnamese fast food snack. They’re filled with shrimp, pork, bean sprouts and egg before being fried, then wrapped in rice paper with greens and dunked in a spicy sauce.
Bún Chả is always a good idea
No visit to Hanoi would be complete without trying bún chả, grilled pork sausage served with baskets of herbs, bean sprouts, pickled veggies and dipping sauce.
That’s a wrap! Bò Lá Lốt
This fragrant beef dish is wrapped in betel leaf and flame grilled.
Cao Lau = comfort food
A Hoi An specialty, this light soup features rice noodles, bean sprouts and croutons of pork-rind served flavoured with mint and star anise.
Do the Cha Ca
Conceived in Hanoi, this dish of white fish is sautéed in butter with dill and spring onions and served with rice noodles and a scattering of peanuts.
As Vietnam’s rice porridge, Chao is surprisingly versatile and can be easily spruced up with slices of chicken, fish, beef, duck and a classic sprinkling of herbs and shallots.
Part and parcel of exploring any destination is finding and enjoying the authentic local food. In Vietnam, one of the best ways to do so is to embark on a food tour of the local markets (including the floating markets) and attending a cooking class. It’s a great way to spend the day and provides insight into Vietnamese culture.
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