Like with any other cuisine, Vietnamese food is influenced by its geography and history. Vietnamese food has retained its distinct identity, despite influences from Chinese and other Asian cuisine. Noodles are popular, wet or dry or in soup. Fresh vegetables, cucumbers, hot pepper and herbs such as basil, mint and coriander also feature prominently in Vietnamese food recipes. Rice is available aplenty, thanks to the fertile Red River delta.
The cuisine of Northern Vietnam differs slightly from that of South Vietnam. The recipes of South Vietnamese dishes contain more vegetables and herbs. North Vietnamese food contains more black pepper while that from the southern region contains chilies. Com or boiled rice is eaten as a meal at any time of the day.
Years of French colonization have left their mark on Vietnamese food especially in the south Vietnam around Saigon (Ho Chi Minh city). Bánh mì or French baguettes with thinly sliced roast pork or pork sausage and spiced with nuoc cham sauce and fresh salad are popularly sold at most street stalls.
Vietnamese food is lighter than the other Asian cuisine. Frying and stir frying is rarely done. The salads are oil free and refreshing. With abundant use of fresh herbs and greens, Vietnamese food recipes use fresh vegetables, subtle seasonings and delicate soups. Pork, chicken, tropical fish and prawns find their way into most Vietnamese dishes. Beef is not so commonly used.
A typical Vietnamese meal consists of meat or seafood, rice, noodles, eggs and vegetables. Rice cakes (Banh Cuon) are a favorite dish with Vietnamese, especially at a New Year feast. They are made with sticky rice and wrapped in bamboo leaves and steamed. The rice cakes are served with shrimp, meat and salad. Pho or Beef Noodles is an extremely popular Vietnamese dish. While Pho is traditionally made with beef, different variations with other meat are also available.
Beef stock along with fresh bean sprouts, onions, tomatoes and fresh sprigs of mint are used to flavor the Pho noodle soup. Vermicelli or bun is available in a range of shapes and types. Mixed with grilled pork meat, fried eggs, fried rice cakes, you can make a variety of dishes with vermicelli. Cassava vermicelli made with the cassava tuber is used to make Mien Bo, Mien Luon and Mien Ga.
Vietnamese food recipe
Vietnamese flavoring sauces are varied and wonderful. Popular ones are nuoc mam, nuoc leo, tuong ot and mam tom. Nuoc mam or fish sauce is a vital ingredient used in Vietnamese recipes. Many Asian recipes use this under various names. Thai version is called as Nam Pla and is widely used in Southeast Asia.
In fact, it replaces soy sauce - a popular ingredient in most Chinese recipes. Made with whole fresh fish and packed with sea salt, this condiment is fermented for about 6 months to a year. There are many grades in Nuoc Mam depending upon the process. Top grade Fish Sauce is made only with salt while the other lower grades contain food additives to enhance the flavor. Look for clear,deep reddish brown color liquid when you source for the top quality Fish Sauce.
Rich in protein, the fermented liquid is filtered and bottled. This sauce is diluted and added to many a Vietnamese dish. Nuoc cham is made by mixing nuoc mam with garlic, sugar and lime juice and used extensively in Vietnamese recipes. Nem Rán or Cha giò are spring rolls filled with an exciting variety of fillings. Bun Rieu is a tasty noodle soup made with rice noodles in a tomato broth and topped with crab and shrimp paste. Banh Xeo are thin crepes made of rice flour and coconut milk.
Cook coconut milk with sugar and add vanilla. Soak bread slices in it. In a baking dish, place sliced banana pieces sprinkled with sugar. Cover the banana layer with a layer of bread. Cover with foil and bake it for about an hour.
Chicken breast fillets
2 onions sliced
2 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp of fish sauce
2 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp of fish sauce
Salt and pepper
Add chicken and sliced onions into a pan of sesame oil till cooked. Add the other ingredients to dress the chicken.
Tender beef slices
Cilantro, basil, mint
Boil water and add rice noodles. Take care not to overcook. Marinate meat with fish sauce, sugar and black pepper. Cook noodles and beef with herbs and cook with the stock. Garnish with bean sprouts, chilies, lime wedges and pickled onions.
Cha giò or Saigon Spring Rolls
25 Sheets of Vietnamese Rice paper
250 gms of Minced pork
3 cloves Garlic finely chopped
100 gms Crab meat
75 gms mixed vegetables
100 gms Rice noodles
1 tsp sugar
1 tblsp Pepper powder
1 bunch Green Onion finely chopped (reserve half the portion for garnishing)
1 tblsp Nuoc Mam
Heat oil in a wok. When hot add garlic and swirl around. Add minced pork and cook for about 10 minutes in medium heat. Add minced crab and all items and stir fry for a few more minutes. Let the mixture cool. Soak the rice paper in warm water for a few minutes. Pat dry. Scoop a portion of the fillings into the center of the paper and roll.
Seal with one beaten egg. Deep fry in oil until golden brown. Garnish with Lettuce and finely chopped Vietnamese Parsley leaves. You can use Mint leaves too. You can use nuoc cham sauce as dipping sauce.