Hannah Stephenson, a travel and food reporter of The Culture Trip, recently published an article revealing eight interesting things about Vietnamese cuisine.
The bún chả (Vietnamese grilled pork with rice noodles)
“Full of intriguing foods and flavours, Vietnam’s cuisine is endlessly interesting and offers a valuable insight into the country’s culture,” Stephenson wrote to introduce her article.
Five is the magic number
According to the reporter, each Vietnamese dish features a careful combination of five flavours, including sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and hot. This sensational synthesis guarantees that every meal is an invigorating and memorable experience.
The Culture Trip’s reporter revealed that breakfast in the nation is strictly savoury, with visitors unlikely to find many people chowing down on sugary breakfast cereals like in many Western countries.
“The Vietnamese are early risers and they need serious fuel, so it’s all about steaming hot soup, broken rice and bánh mì for starting the day,” she noted.
Stephenson added that the country’s famous Phở is actually traditionally a breakfast dish, although it is consumed at any time of the day.
According to Stephenson’s article, chè refers to Vietnamese dessert soups, drinks, and puddings, which often consist of coconut milk and mung or kidney beans and fruit. The tastiest options are chè chuối (banana and coconut milk soup), and chè bắp (sweetcorn and glutinous rice pudding).
She suggested that if visitors are looking for a photogenic dessert then chè ba màu, a traffic light-coloured drink made with beans and jelly that’s instantly refreshing, is a must-try.
Stephenson also explained to readers the differences in cuisines across the country’s three regions, including the north, south, and centre.
“Although there are common threads between the cuisines of these areas, each boasts its own individual characteristics,” said Stephenson.
In northern Vietnam, food tends to be less spicy and black pepper is typically preferred over chilli. In addition, it is also home to the legendary bún chả, which Barack Obama and Anthony Bourdain famously enjoyed together in 2016.
In contrast, according to the British reporter, central Vietnam boasts a range of complex mixtures of spicy flavours. The cuisine found Hue, the country’s ancient capital, is particularly revered for its variety of distinctive and delicious dishes.
“Southern Vietnamese cuisine tends to be sweeter and the region’s fertile soil means that herbs are used more liberally in cooking. The southern version of phở tends to be more popular than its northern counterpart, although it’s best to try both to be sure,” she revealed.
Animal blood soup
One of the interesting things about Vietnamese cuisines, according to Stephenson, is that raw animal blood, usually coming from a duck or pig, is considered a delicacy.
Tiết canh is a soup made using freshly slaughtered animal blood, fish sauce, cooked meat, and herbs. Its taste can be described as cool, sour, and buttery, with the dish often washed down with some strong rice wine.
“Tiết canh can be found on the street but is also often consumed during festive occasions, such as the Lunar New Year, when the animal is typically slaughtered at the host’s home,” the reporter added.
According to the article, Vietnam makes up the world’s second largest coffee exporter, with local beans being nothing short of phenomenal. Both strong and full of flavour, Vietnamese coffee, known affectionately by some as ‘rocket fuel’, packs an intense punch that delights the drinker’s senses and keeps you buzzing all day.
“One of the most popular ways to enjoy it is with condensed milk over ice, otherwise known as cà phê sữa đá. The delightful cafes where it’s served are almost as enjoyable as the drink itself, with many of the best ones tucked away in little secret corners and narrow hems,” she stressed.
Fetal duck eggs
Hột vịt lộn, duck eggs containing partially developed fetuses, are also a popular street food found in Vietnam.
The British reporter described that this dish is often washed down with beer. The eggs are boiled and eaten straight from the shell, with sides and condiments varying depending on the region.
“Hột vịt lộn are beloved in Vietnam due to their rich taste and high nutritional value, and are also popular in several other Southeast Asian countries. The eggs are traditionally consumed by pregnant women for strength and fortification,” she noted.
Finally, fish sauce, known locally as nước mắm, is a major component that features in Vietnamese cuisine.
Made from fermented anchovies and salt, the sauce tends to lose its strong fish taste when combined with other ingredients, instead adding simultaneously sweet and salty flavours to the food.
“This incredibly versatile condiment is used in many popular dishes and as a delicious dipping sauce for spring rolls, bún chả and broken rice. No experience of Vietnamese cuisine is complete without a taste of nước mắm,” the reporter concluded.
Source: Vietnam Net