Vietnamese food, a term that hit close to home. Suppose you have ever tried that fragrant bowl of pho with onions, anise leaves, and the sweetness of the bone broth. In that case, you will understand why Vietnamese food is so beloved anywhere.
Located at the heart of South-East Asia and is the close neighbor to our previously mentioned cuisine – Thai. You can spot some similarities between the two when it comes to the use of ingredients.
But while Thai food leaves a strong impression with their savory-sweet tamarin sauce and spicy curry. Vietnamese cuisine added an elegant touch to every dish with the use of raw ingredients and theirs’ perfect combination.
Want to know what Vietnamese Cuisine is all about? Let’s find out together.
Enjoy your ingredient as it is supposed to be.
If there is one word to describe Vietnamese food, it is freshness. Vietnamese cuisine focuses heavily on the raw flavors of ingredients and how it is combined. Picture a giant rice paper roll with lettuce, rice noodle, pork belly, cucumber, herbs and even fruit such as mango, pineapple. and the single spice you need is a dip of fish sauce. One bite of those and you will experience all the flavor nature has to offers.
Like all Asian cuisine, Vietnamese food uses many kinds of herbs such as basil, perilla, marjoram, onion, and dill. They also use spices such as chilli, pepper, lemongrass, chives, ginger and garlic to fermented condiments such as batches, shrimp paste, vinegar,… to create the signature flavor to each dish.
Not all spices are used in every dish. Still, when they do, the combination of ingredients (seasonings) are vibrant and flavorful, bringing a sensational taste for you to enjoy.
In addition, Vietnamese culinary uses many vegetables (boiled, stir-fried, pickled, and eaten raw), along with many kinds of broth and soup. Vietnamese dishes don’t often use meat as the main content, so they are especially low in fat and refreshing in nature.
Harmonious Combination of ingredients (and fish sauce)
In Vietnamese food, you will hardly find any dishes that are similar in taste, even when the execution looks pretty similar! For example, Pho and bun bo hue, a broth base dish that utilizes rice noodles, has an entirely different flavor. All thanks to the unique combination of ingredients and spices.
If you ever come to Vietnam, you will find a common theme of seasoning – Fish Sauce. This aromatic sauce is a must-have at any Vietnamese family meal. Many dishes have a corresponding fish-sauce recipe with traditional recipes to match the taste, especially rolls and salads.
If you can’t stand the smell of raw fish sauce, you will be surprised by how the Vietnamese turn it into an indispensable condiment, with a notable example being Bún Chả. If you get to tried Vietnamese style fish sauce, proceed with caution because it is pretty addictive.
In addition to the combination of flavors, Vietnamese food also pays great attention to the nature of the dish. Cold-nature dishes such as duck and snail meat are often prepared with warm-nature spices such as ginger and laksa leaves, which gives off a nice balance to the meal.
Unlike many other Asian cuisines, where it focuses on aesthetic presentation, nutrition and skillful cooking technique. Vietnamese food is more about balancing the spices and available ingredients to create an idyllic, elegant feeling that is not too bold but attractive in a unique way.
North - Central - South
Not only is it suitable for a daily meal, but Vietnamese food also varies across the region and represents that region's culture.
Vietnamese delicacies bring their unique flavor according to region. The North has a cold climate and four seasons: spring, summer, autumn, winter. The flavor of northern dishes is rich and salty, neither spicy nor sweet.
Northern dishes focus on the elegance of ingredients and their original taste, originating from the past of many difficulties, now become the signature trait of Vietnam's elegant capital – Hanoi.
In contrast, the food in the central of Vietnam is robust, with solid seasoning and spiciness. If you're a fan of spicy food, you're going to have a blast, as chili is the conductor, appearing in everything from casual to luxurious.
Being the central region and affected by different climates, the central cuisine of Vietnam is highly diverse according to location. Some ingredients can only be found in a particular location, which becomes a signature dish that is famous around the country.
Last but not least, Southern Vietnamese is also known to have an "intense" taste-bud; by intense, we meant raw fish sauce, bitterly sweet dessert, and sour taste that could make your eye watered.
Southern Vietnamese doesn't shy away from seasoning, but that is what make them so addictive, every dish from the south is an explosion of flavor: sweet, savory, sour, spicy, etc. Nature also gifted the south with various ingredients, combine with the bustling lifestyle, you will never be hungry once you set food to this tropical land.
That’s not all...
Dishes like Pho, Banh Mi, Spring roll,... Have become a staple in many countries, showing the influence of Vietnamese Cuisine all over the world. Not only captivating the Vietnamese themselves, that oriental delicacy has now crossed the border, conquering diners near and far by its simplicity, harmony, and bold identity that linger in the hearts of food lovers. There are much more to cover regarding Vietnamese Cuisine that we at SWING will be happy to cover in a later post.