So you have heard about the Vietnamese cuisine and culture? Wonder what are some of the interesting facts about Vietnam food? Here are some of the facts about Vietnamese food.
There is admirably a great balance between vegetable and meats, as well as a selective use of spices to reach a fine taste. Vietnamese food can be considered one of the healthiest cuisines worldwide. More junk food stores from Western countries are opening in main cities, and these include Mc Donald, Italian Pizzas, Lotteria, etc yet traditional Vietnamese food remains the number one position in the country.
Traditional Vietnamese cooking is appreciated for the freshness of the ingredients and for the minimum use of oil which makes this cuisine very healthy. Hardly do families use processed food for daily meals. There is a refrigerator in almost every household in cities, yet families tend to go to open markets every early morning to buy fresh fish, veggie and ingredients for the day.
Vietnamese recipes make use of a range of herbs, including lemongrass, mint, Vietnamese mint, long coriander and Thai basil leaves…. Interestingly each dish is accompanied by a kind of herb. You would wonder why on earth households tend to make simple dishes a complicated task. But that is the cooking tradition which is passed down from old people to young children.
Vietnamese cuisine is all about four distinct flavors, which are fish sauce, rice vinegar, salt, and sugar. Hardly do families in the countryside use pepper although Vietnam export of pepper ranks the second in the World. In any meals whether in urban or rural families, you will find a fish sauce bowl containing some chili and garlic.
Vietnamese cooks use almost all parts of an animal for food, including meat, bone, internal organs and skin. Nothing is left unused! Strange isn’t it? Yet this is an interesting fact from the North to the South Vietnam. For instance, fish bone, chicken bone…are boiled up and produce great water for cooking other dishes. Buffalo and cow skins can produce great dishes for men!
Decoration is essential in any dishes, ranging from simple herbs to complex flowers made from veggie, sauce, pastes, etc. In the North, decoration is most complex in Vietnam. Households in central and south Vietnam tend to decorate their dishes less, yet it is quite a distinctive feature from a traditional Vietnamese dish in comparison to neighboring countries.
Rice is the key and most important dish throughout the day. Vietnamese cuisine depends heavily on rice grown in water paddies throughout the country, with dishes varying from simple everyday meals to most complex dishes designed for Kings. You would find several types of noodles, cakes and foodstuff made from rice. Bread and cereals are not as popular as rice.
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There is no preferred meat in Vietnam. Instead, all beef, pork, chicken, fish and various kinds of seafood are used in most dishes. The most popular meat type is pork and fish. Beef is less popular as it is so expensive for farmers.
The most favorite dish for family events is Spring Rolls. Vietnamese spring rolls are made with rice flour, meat, veggie, eggs, pepper and seasoning and are very light on the palate. Making Spring Rolls is fun, and most cooking tours in Vietnam offer the opportunities for international tourists / travelers to make simple Spring Rolls.
The most well-known Vietnamese dish worldwide is in fact not Spring rolls, which ranks the second, but Pho. Almost all visitors to Vietnam have ever tasted Pho. Almost all of them like the dish. There are businesses who open Pho restaurant chains, but it is best to enjoy in local Pho shops (where the owners cook them with passion, secret recipes…) not in industrial food chains.
The most terrifying dish for foreign visitors is Blood soup, made from blood and internal organs of pigs, ducks, goats and even dogs! It is however considered delicious and nutritious by both men and women in Vietnam. Never try this no matter what!
The ugliest flavor for foreign visitors is shrimp paste, a liquid paste made from shrimp and used for various dishes including Bun Dau Mam Tom, dog meat. The smell is very strong and international tourists are advised not to try this sauce.
The most tempting dish for male visitors is snake wine, which is considered very helpful for your bone system. It is one of the most popular traditional wines across the country. However rarely can you see young men drink this type of wine as it is believed not good for sexual ability.
The most popular Vietnam drink is tea. There are hundreds of tea brands but the most favorite one is Thai Nguyen tea. Interestingly only few women drink tea in a day, as tea is not good for their sleep. Towards the central and South Vietnam, coffee is more popular. Ca phe sua da or condensed milk coffee is most favourite drink for foreigners.
Vietnamese use different ingredients to cook different dishes during different months of the year. During summer, the food is lighter and a lot of vegetables are used in dishes, while in winter pork and beef are used a lot.
In Vietnam, there is sweet dessert soup that is usually prepared with beans or sago and served with diced seasonal fresh fruits. Ask your home-stay to do this for you, or learn to do it by yourself. Che Buoi is very popular in Hanoi.
Vietnamese cooks use lotus. Every part of the lotus is used to prepare different dishes and root plants are used a lot in different dishes.
The most traditional recipe to cure a cold is not medicine but a hot rice soup containing lots of onion and folium perillae. Ginger tea is also a popular way, but a hot rice soup is very popular across the country.
Goi Cuon and Pho are among the top 50 best dishes in the world voted by CNN Travel. Goi Cuon is as attracting and popular to foreign visitors as Pho. The dish is made from beef, lettuce, herbs, and noodle and rolled into a rice paper, then used with a special sauce.
Vietnam street food is among the most delicious in the world, ranging from simple to complex dishes. Street food tours are gaining momentum in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
Hotpot is the most popular family meal during weekends in the winter. Interestingly it is not the original Vietnamese dish but is copied from Korea and China. Essentially you will cook raw ingredients in a hotpot. It is very very popular in main cities.
Beer hoi or cheap street beer is the most favourite drink in the summer. Beer hoi Hanoi is the most popular in Vietnam. More Western travelers are now seen in beer hoi streets in Vietnam than before.
Exploring Vietnam, its land and people, must be insufficient without tasting its cuisine thoroughly. If you plan to have a private family tour of Vietnam, contact Red Crane Travel at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website to see some sample tours at www.redcranetravel.com.
Author: Duong Van Hung