Do you ever wondered what to eat when visiting Vietnam?! This post will become your ultimate Vietnamese food guide as it lists some of the tastiest Vietnamese dishes. You have to try out these Vietnamese tasty meals throughout the country. These riches will make you fall in love with the traditional Vietnamese culinary culture.
A universal word used to describe traditional Vietnamese food is “balance”. Balance is essential in all types of cuisine, but it seems to be of particular cognizance and importance in Vietnamese cuisine. Traditional Vietnamese cuisine balances different dishes like nutrition, taste and presentation.
These dishes tend to achieve this by paying attention to five essential elements per aspect. For example, when using spices, a balance is sought between bitter, sour, sweet, salty and spicy. Also, in the presentation, chefs and cooks aim to have red, green, yellow, white, and black colors in their meals. Vietnamese cuisine is one of the healthiest foods in the world, and this is a result of always trying to maintain a balance of nutrients like protein, carbohydrates, fat, minerals, and water.
You can enjoy this Yin and Yang balance in Vietnamese food when you buy deep-fried dishes like the fried spring rolls. The filling of the meal is with ketchup or vinegar in most countries. But the fried spring rolls is with a traditional Vietnamese dipping sauce made with; cucumber slices, water, fish sauce, and other ingredients in Vietnam.
You can serve them with a large bowl of fresh greens like; coriander, lettuce, perilla, and mint, which you would have to dunk into the sauce and eat the oily fried spring rolls. So you witness first-hand how refreshing the Vietnamese balances out the ingredients, sensations, and health considerations.
Check out the mouth-watering delicacies;
Pho is one of the most well-recognized examples of traditional Vietnamese food. It is one of the most trending meals in Vietnam and is a national dish of Vietnam. Pho is a delicious noodle soup that had originated in the north, but it’s now a popular staple dish throughout Vietnam.
The Nam Dinh Province in northern Vietnam has its origin of pho noodle soup in the 20th century. In 1954, after the Partition of Vietnam, more than a million people fled from the north to the south. Thus, bringing their knowledge and love for this delicious noodle soup. This resettlement helped popularize pho in other parts of Vietnam; which led to developing different dish recipes further.
However, regardless of where the pho soup is, the dish has four essential ingredients; rice noodles locally called Banh pho, clear stock, meat, typically beef or chicken, and herbs. Also, they add tasty additional garnishes like; cilantro, lime, hot chilli sauce, bean sprouts, cinnamon basil and hoisin.
Unconstrained by the culinary way of life of the north, numerous variations in broth and meat has appeared. For example, recipes for northern pho soup tend to use larger rice noodles and more green onions. Garnishes are generally limited only to chilli sauce, vinegar and fish sauce.
On the other hand, Southern pho soup has a sweeter broth and delicately at its top is bean sprouts and a wider variety of healthy fresh herbs.
NEM CUON(northern) OR GOI CUON(southern):
Vietnamese spring rolls are also known as summer rolls. May not be as well known to many foreigners compared to pho or banh mi. The Nem cuon as called by the north or the Goi cuon as referred to by the southern Vietnamese is every bit very delicious.
These hot and fresh spring rolls are a Vietnamese national staple meal. The Nem cuon is traditional pork shrimp, herbs, vegetables and rice vermicelli wrapped in Vietnamese rice paper, locally called the banh trang.
You can serve the Vietnamese spring rolls with a peanut hoisin dipping sauce and other sauces like fish sauce. The Nem cuon is a lightly soft, savoury sweet and refreshingly delicious Vietnamese food classic.
If you have ever eaten those slippery rice noodle rolls served at the Chinese dim sum restaurants called the “Chee Cheong fun”. The Banh cuon is similar to this dish. The Banh cuon is a northern Vietnamese noodle dish popular throughout Vietnam.
Banh cuon is rice noodle rolls prepared from thin sheets of steamed and fermented rice batter, filled with wood ear mushrooms and seasoned ground pork. At the top of the dish, fried shallots, herbs and a bowl of nuoc Cham, which is Vietnamese fish sauce.
They are ideally served with a side dish of Vietnamese pork sausage, locally referred to as the “gio lua”, and bean sprouts and thinly sliced cucumber. But, first, you need to see it being prepared in Hanoi. There a lady is ladling a scoop of the batter on a convex metal surface; where the batter would quickly solidify into a thin, delicate sheet. In contrast, another lady would fill it with ingredients and roll it up; before cutting it with kitchen scissors into bite-sized pieces.
The beauty of this process is how all of this tends to happen with explosive quickness and fluidity of motion; appreciatively mesmerizing to watch. The Banh Cuon dish is typically made out of pork, although you can have them filled with other ingredients as well, such as shrimp.
The meal is delicious regardless of the ingredients. They come out as soft, slippery, and a little gummy with just the perfect bits of crunchy fried shallots and fresh herbs.
WHITE ROSE DUMPLINGS:
Traditionally given to visitors by the locals, the “Cao Lau” or “banh bao banh vac”. The White Rose Dumplings is a regionally acknowledged Vietnamese dish available only in Hoi An. The white rose dumplings recipe is a well preserved and guarded secret kept in the family for over three generations.
The invention of the meal and popularization was by the grandfather of the owner of White Rose Restaurant. The wrapper will always bunch up to resemble flowers which is how the dumplings had gotten their name. They are deliciously topped with crispy fried shallots and served with a special sauce made with lemon, chillies, shrimp broth and sugar.
Walking inside Hoi An’s central market, you would see many Vietnamese food stalls selling these “White Rose Dumplings”. The legendary White Rose Restaurant supplies all-white rose dumplings sold in Hoi An. When you take a bite of these delicious dumplings, you may notice that the skin is chewier and seemingly firmer than traditional Chinese dumplings.
Banh hue is the classic name for rice flour cakes famous in central Vietnam and Hue. There are different types of hot pastry: banh nam, banh beo, banh loc, banh uot, banh ram it, and cha tom.
Banh beo is perhaps the most popular among Hue’s collections of rice flour cakes. The cake is the most basic, consisting of a steamed rice cake topped with pork rinds and dried shrimps. The finishes of the cake can be with other ingredients, such as; mung bean paste, scallions, roasted peanuts and fried shallots. In addition, it comes with a side of fish sauce.
The different types of banh hue appear different in system, presentation, methods and ingredients, but they are all seemingly made with rice flour and shrimp in any particular form. And also, note that because the recipes usually share similar ingredients, they could taste relatively identical. The usual rice is deliciously silky, soft, and loaded with tasty umami.
Chao tom is a specialty of the people in Hue of central Vietnam. It is a starter dish consisting of well seasoned and mashed prawns made into a paste, after which you can wrap it around a sugar cane stick. The steaming of the Chao Tom is to set its shape before being deep-fried or grilled. Chao Tom is a springy shrimp appetiser that will always be one of everyone’s favourite traditional Vietnamese dishes.
If you are to eat the Chao Tom, you have to cut the meat off the sugar cane and delicately wrap it with lettuce, some sweet chilli sauce and fresh herbs. As a result, the Chao Tom is smokey, savoury, and sweet.
Mi Quang is a famous specialty of Quang Nam Province. It is a quintessential dish to the people of Da Nang. Mi Quang is a rice noodle delicacy made with pork broth or chicken broth topped with a host of proteins, from shrimp or chicken to even a snakehead fish.
You can serve the dish with a bowl of fresh herbs and greens alongside an array of a few condiments. Unlike most dry noodle soup dishes, the mi Quang noodle dish is slightly soupier than a dish made with a larger type of rice noodle.
You can make the stock by simmering meat, typically pork or chicken, in water or bone broth, before seasoning with shallots, fish sauce, black pepper, and cu nen, a garlic type vegetable. The simmering process produces a concentrated broth that is more intense in taste and flavor than most traditional noodle soups.
Afterwards, the ladling of the broth is about 1 cm to 2 cm deep into a bowl of hot rice noodles and generously topped with different proteins like shrimp, pork, and hard-boiled quail eggs. The typical garnishing is with crushed peanuts, chilli, green onions, and you can serve with whole green chillies, fresh herbs, a rice cracker, and lime.
Lastly, visit Vietnam for the whole Hoi An experience and also remember to book your flights and hotels here.