In the depths Southeast Asia lies the 15th most populous country in the world – Vietnam. This is a rich and diverse country which serves as an active melting pot for various cultures and people. When it comes to food in Southeast Asia, Vietnam is the place to be!
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Most Popular Vietnamese Dishes
Traditionally, Vietnamese cuisine is based around five core taste elements, spicy, sour, salty, sweet and bitter. Common ingredients across the country include fish sauce, shrimp paste, rice, fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables.
With its minimal use of oil and emphasis on herbs and vegetables, it is considered one of the healthiest diets out there! Of the incredible traditional dishes you can try in Vietnam, these are the most popular for both locals and tourists to try.
Of course, an absolute classic and popular dish found all over Vietnam, Pho! Tourists will not have a hard time finding this delicacy!
Pho is a dish made from rice noodles and served in a bowl with either a broth or bean sprouts, orange leaves and sliced meat as a topping. The meat used to make the dish is quite diverse and can be chicken, pork or beef. Definitely, a must-have when visiting!
Banh Mi is living proof of the French influence in Vietnam. Baguettes are used as the main ingredient of the Banh Mi. The bread is filled with either meat of chicken as well as pickled turnips or carrots.
This sandwich shaped dish has a spicy and savory taste. The dish is sold from every corner store stall to the fanciest restaurants around. Banh Mi is best had as a breakfast item.
This pancake-like dish is made from flour and vegetables that are mixed with shrimp on a dough. The dough is shaped like a bowl. The dish has a delightfully savory taste with a blend of authentic Vietnamese spices.
This menu is quite popular as a snack to prop up your hunger for the main course. Banh Khot is usually enjoyed along with spicy fish sauce and fresh vegetables.
This is another variation of pancakes or crepes but of a larger size. Banh Xeo is made from a mixture of flour, rice, coconut milk and turmeric and then it is filled with sauteed meat, shrimp and bean sprouts. This dish has a crisp and savory taste.
One of the all-time greatest Vietnamese dishes, Banh Cuon or steamed rice cake is made from ground rice dough. Which is then pressed until very thin layers are formed.
The minced meat and vegetables make up the filling. The ingredients are then steamed and served with cucumber slices, lettuce leaves, shrimp tempura or green fried beans.
Goi Cuon or Vietnamese spring rolls are salad rolls filled with slices of meat or shrimp. This is then boiled or steamed. These foods are usually enjoyed fresh and warm with peanut sauce. This dish is one of the nation’s favourite foods, found nearly everywhere.
Ca Kho To
Otherwise known as caramel fish, is fish that is boiled with sugar and a lot of spices until it has a soft texture. This meat is cooked in a container made out of clay.
The use of the clay aims to hold the heat from the meat to make it more durable. This is a classic dish, first being made in ancient times.
Also known as broken rice is also an amazing dish worth checking out. It is named such because the basic ingredients of the dish are wrecked rice.
Com Tam rice has a dense yet soft texture. It is eaten along with side dishes which are usually made from pieces of meat or vegetables.
Banh Bot Loc
Banh Bot Loc is a type of steamed dumpling filled with shrimp and pork. The dumpling dough is made from tapioca and water, giving the dumpling a translucent appearance.
Tapioca is extracted from the cassava root and has a natural clear – white color. The soft and chewy texture of the dumplings is also due to the tapioca.
Bo La Lot
Bo La Lot is a dish which consists of minced beef which is seasoned with strong spices and sugar. All of this is then rolled into fresh betel leaves.
The dough is then grilled on very hot coals and served with rice and fresh vegetables. You must try it with its special Bo La Lot sauce.
Bo Luc Lac
Bo luc lac is a beef stir fry dish which traditionally served on a bed of watercress with a bowl of rice on the side.
The beef is cut into cubes and marinated in soy sauce, sugar, fish sauce and oyster sauce, giving the dish both sweet and savory flavors. This dish may also be served with a lime dipping sauce to add a sour element.
Banh Trang Nuong (Vietnamese Pizza)
Banh Trang Nuong is a Vietnamese-style pizza made using grilled rice paper, instead of dough, as its base. It is typically eaten as a quick, cheap snack and enjoyed throughout the country.
Any toppings can be used with some of the most popular being tuna, chili, egg, cheese, spring onion and canned meat.
Chè are sweet desserts that are served like a drink in liquid form. They are predominantly made of ingredients such as custard, coconut cream or water.
Additional ingredients include rice, beans, jellies, pulses, canned fruit and even cereals.
Porridge or chao in each region in the country has unique and different recipes and presentations as well. Generally, though Chao is made from very soft rice and is served along with sliced chicken, offal, fish or even fried breadcrumbs, whatever floats your boat.
It is usually topped with fried onions, black pepper powder and bean sprouts as well as lime leaves. This dish is best enjoyed while it is still piping hot.
Coconut Worms (Duong Dua)
Coconut worm is a sort of snout beetle at its larvae stage. Also known as Duong Dua in Vietnamese, a coconut worm is light yellow in colour, generally sweet in taste, and about 3-5 cm long in size. Usually eaten live, a single coconut worm is sold at around 25,000 Vietnamese dong (US$1) in Vietnam.
Shrimp Chips (Prawn Crackers)
Shrimp chips are a popular snack or side dish in many Asian countries. They are typically made from a combination of shrimp paste, tapioca starch, and water, which is then shaped into thin, round chips and deep-fried until crispy.
The chips are usually served as a light and crunchy snack or appetizer and can be eaten on their own or with a dipping sauce.
Cháo Quẩy are essentially a straight donut, made by deep frying dough. In Vietnam, Cháo Quẩy is consumed with congee, pho in Hanoi, and occasionally with wonton noodles.
The origin of cháo quẩy relates to the injustice of an executed military general when the outraged public made two pieces of human-shaped dough linked in the middle (that denoted the couple), deep-fried them and consumed them to express their rage.
Pandan waffles, also called Banh Kep La Dua, is a type of waffle snack prepared using coconut milk instead of normal milk and flavored with pandan leaves which gives them a green color and strong, sweet aroma. Unlike other waffles, they are generally eaten plain with no need for additional toppings.
Bánh Bò is a sweet sponge cake prepared using rice flour, water, sugar and yeast. The dish is similar to a honeycomb in appearance on the inside because of the presence of several small air bubbles. Coconut milk is also added to the batter, providing the dish with a slight taste and scent of coconut.
Bò kho is a hearty and spicy Vietnamese stew consisting of braised beef, carrots, onions and an assortment of spices. It is known for the flavorful beef at the center of te dish, which is marinated and cooked down on low heat, allowing it to absorb all the stew’s spices.
Bun Cha Hanoi
Bun cha Hanoi is a dish that is prepared using grilled pork, usually accompanied by fresh herbs, vermicelli noodles and a dipping sauce. The pork is marinated in a mixture of fish sauce, sugar, garlic, and other seasonings, then grilled over charcoal until it is caramelized and crispy on the outside.