Vietnamese cuisine is a cooking style associated with the Vietnamese culture and geographic region. It encompasses the foods and beverage of Vietnam. Preparation of traditional Vietnamese food is simple and is done the same way, be it from a roadside or from a topnotch restaurant. Rice is the staple food in Vietnam and all dishes revolve around it. Rice takes many forms; it may be steamed, sticky, noodles, pancakes or porridge forms. Influenced by the geography of Vietnam, the most common ingredients are: fish sauce, soy sauce, shrimppaste, rice, fresh herbs, vegetables and fruits. In addition to fish and rice, the traditional Vietnamese cuisine ingredients are further influenced by the neighboring Chinese and Cambodian communities.
Plain rice is central to every traditional Vietnamese food, mostly steamed rice. Rice can also be transformed into ingredients such as rice vinegar, rice wine, rice noodles and rice paper wrappers for use in other recipes. Rice noodles are prepared in a variety of forms for different uses. Banh pho are the wide white noodles used in the ultimate Vietnamese soup, pho. Bun noodles, banh hoi, dried glass and cellophane noodles are the other forms.
A salty fish sauce, nuon mam, is the other essentialof a traditional Vietnamese food. Salt an anchovies are layered in wooden barrels and left to ferment for six months then drained to obtain the nuon mam.
Nuoc cham is the dipping sauce present at almost every meal. A few spoonfuls of nuoc cham over a bowl of rice is a typical Vietnamese meal. The following is a recipe for preparing nuoc cham; it is subject to variation in order to suit individual tastes by using more or less pepper and nuoc mam.
Nuoc Cham (Dipping Sauce)
- 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Half a cup fish sauce (nuoc mam)
- Half a cup fresh lime juice
- Half a cup sugar
- 4 minced cloves garlic
1. Soak the red pepper flakes in the white vinegar for 10-15 minutes.
2. Mix the fish sauce (nuoc mam), lime juice, garlic and sugar in another bowl.
3. Stirin one and a half cups boiling water and the pepper vinegar mixture until the sugar is dissolved.
4. Allow the mixture to cool and serve at room temperature.
Pho bo(Hanoi beef and rice noodle soup)
Pho bo is a fragrant and full of flavor dish that’s often had for breakfast. It is served as a bowl of spicy beef broth then the diner adds vegetables and noodles to the broth to suit his or her taste.
Sweet coconut custard is a dessert-type meal that follows mostly after a celebratory meal.
In conclusion, Vietnamese cuisine features spectacular flavors and endless variety. Inland waterways and a vast seacoast provide fish and other aquatic food sources staple in the Vietnamese cuisine as fish sauce. Traditional Vietnamese food is largely regarded with delight for its minimal use of oil, use of fresh ingredients and use of herbs and vegetables. Traditional Vietnamese food strikes an impressive balance between fresh herbs, meats and an appropriate choice of spices hence a superior quality taste worthy of a place on the top ranking list of the world’s healthiest cuisines.