Vietnamese cuisine is rightfully considered one of the most distinctive and unusual in the world. The similarity of Vietnamese culinary traditions with the customs of China and Japan is very remote, and the combination of a variety of seasonings and textures in one dish, an abundance of vegetables and a very unusual approach of local culinary specialists to heat treatment make Vietnam a real gourmet paradise.
According to nutritionists, the cuisine of Vietnam can not only claim to be one of the most exotic, but also one of the Top 10 most healthy and healthy in the world. Paradox? Not at all. The thing is that the culinary specialists of this country use fats very moderately, and the products undergo only minimal heat treatment, as a result of which all useful substances, vitamins, as well as macro- and microelements are stored in them.
Vietnamese cuisine is regionally structured. So, in the north of the country, the local population prefers the traditional recipe for cooking, is very reserved about spices (most often black pepper is added to dishes) and uses old recipes, without making practically any changes to them. It is in the north of the country that the legendary Vietnamese Pho soup and Ban Ban Kuon are being prepared.
The cuisine of the southern regions of Vietnam developed under the influence of colonists from France and immigrants who arrived from southern China. Spices are actively used here, and many dishes have a sweet taste, since coconut milk is actively added to them.
Vietnam turned into a colony of the homeland of three musketeers in the mid-nineteenth century. It was during this period that the cuisine of the southern part of the country changed significantly under the influence of French culinary traditions. So, for example, they began to cook traditional Fo soup in French beef broth, which was cooked for eight hours. In addition, it was the French who brought bread to Vietnam - before that, the local population managed with noodles and pies. With the advent of bread, the Vietnamese discovered sandwiches called Ban Mi - from a baguette with ham, chicken, spicy sauces and pickled vegetable salads.
The best is considered the cuisine of the central part of Vietnam, where the city of Hue, which was previously the capital of the country, is located. Here was the royal palace, and for the monarchs they prepared a variety of unusual dishes and decorated them as exquisitely as possible. Since then, the cuisine of the central regions of the country has been incredibly popular with gourmets around the world.
Analyzing the characteristic features of Vietnamese cuisine, we should separately dwell on some of its most significant characteristics.
- Most of the dishes in Vietnam are made from fresh fruits and vegetables. At the same time, heat treatment is minimal, and very little oil is used during frying.
- Due to the proximity of the sea coast, seafood is more present in the diet of Vietnamese than meat. According to statistics, about 300 grams of meat per kilogram of seafood in the menu of the local population.
- Among Vietnam's most popular spices are ginger, garlic, chili pepper, black pepper, dill and red onion. Also widely used is fish sauce called "Nyok Mam" and fish paste. They really add spiciness to dishes, but due to the specific smell, not all tourists are delighted with them.
- Sweet foods in Vietnam are practically not prepared due to the abundance of sweet fruits. The most common dessert is the Te sweet pudding, which is made from beans, rice and fruits.
- Vietnamese cuisine is very harmonious. There are no too salty or too spicy dishes. This is explained by the fact that it is based on two principles: the principle of five tastes and the principle of balance "yin and yang." The principle of the five flavors is that the salty, sweet, sour, spicy and bitter tastes in any dish must be carefully balanced. At the same time, sour, sweet and pungent tastes are considered the realm of cold female yin energy, and salty and bitter are managed by hot male yang energy. In their dishes, Vietnamese culinary specialists strive to combine products with "masculine" and "feminine" energy: for example, ginger - "yang" and fish - "yin".
- Almost all dishes in Vietnam are served in large dishes. Eating alone in this country is not accepted.
The range of Vietnamese dishes is very wide and often varies from region to region.
The tropical climate and fertile soil of Vietnam favors the development of agriculture. Cabbage, garlic, carrots, sweet peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers and celery, as well as exotic foods like chili peppers, various local mushrooms, and also young bamboo, are grown and widely used in dishes in the country.
Culinary experts also actively use sweet potato, cassava, and legumes. As a side dish for many meat dishes served salted bean sprouts with leeks, carrots and turnips. Also popular in Vietnam are bamboo dishes. From dried shoots, a soup called Kang Mang is prepared. In addition, young shoots are fried, although due to the specific smell of this dish, not all gourmets are delighted.
Other Vietnamese vegetable dishes include very spicy carrot salads, pumpkin stuffed with chicken and rice, pickled Hang Mu Yi, served with meat or fish, bean pudding, and Pho soup.
One of the distinguishing characteristics of Vietnamese cuisine is the "Tea" category. So called dishes that are strictly vegetarian, but do not seem to be outwardly. This, for example, sweet potato, prepared in a special way, so that in its appearance it becomes indistinguishable from meat, or a cucumber, which looks like two drops of water resembles a fish.
Of the fruits, melons, pineapples, mangoes and lychees are the most popular among the local population. Mandarins are often added to meat dishes to give a more piquant and unusual taste.
In Vietnam, meat is usually served primarily on the festive table. In a normal diet, meat products are present in limited quantities. At the same time, pork is most popular, and beef is eaten much less often. Cooks bake pork in pots with coconut milk, stew, fry and salt.
It is noteworthy that the local culinary specialists consume meat when preparing dishes in the highest degree economically. So, according to the recipe of the popular Vietnamese rice noodle soup "Fo", the beef is cut into pieces that can be compared to a sheet of paper in thickness.
Poultry is used more often, both in hot and cold dishes. For example, chicken is an ingredient in many Vietnamese Goy Ga salads. In addition, popular dishes of Vietnamese cuisine are noodle soup with chicken "Fo Ga", stuffed wings "Kan Ga", fried with spices chicken carcass "Ga Ran", etc.
The Vietnamese diet also contains liver and pigskin dishes, which are served with lemon juice, pepper and salt sauce.
Some restaurants have delicacies made from more exotic meats. This, for example, turtle soup, fried meat of dogs and cats, frog, meat dishes of crocodiles and bats, specially prepared brains of monkeys, as well as soup from bird nests.
Fish and seafood
The proximity of the ocean and the huge number of rivers are the main reasons that fish and seafood are one of the "chips" of Vietnamese cuisine. Most national dishes include fish, shrimp, mussels, crabs and squid. Seafood is added to vermicelli soups, cooked with them, baked in coconut milk.
The cua meat and mushroom soup Kua, baked Cha Ka fish fillet, octopus meat in all possible forms, shrimps fried in Mom Tom krill sauce are very popular among locals.
Far beyond Vietnam, the Nyok Mam fish sauce is famous. It is amber-red in color, its taste is spicy and quite pleasant, but the smell is very specific - so much that, as the Vietnamese joke, it is impossible within a five-kilometer radius of the place of production of this sauce without a gas mask.
Prepare "Nyok Mam" from small fish, which are layered in giant clay or concrete tanks. Each layer is sprinkled with salt, after which the barrels are placed under the press for a period of three months to three years. During this time, they manage to ferment their contents. The liquid that drains them of the resulting mass is a legendary sauce. Moreover, such a “first spin” sauce “Nyok Mam Kot” sauce is incredibly expensive and is a real delicacy. The product of the “second” and “third” presses usually gets on the shelves of stores - the one that is formed after the initial mass is poured with brine and it is fermented again. This sauce is much cheaper than the "original".
After the French expansion, baguettes, which gourmets assure, are the best baked goods in Vietnam, became one of the “chips” of local cuisine. In addition, in the diet of local residents there are Tune cakes, fried soy pancakes with Ban Ho Ai meat, pies from rice dough (Ban Nhai) and from very sweet pea porridge (Ban Ran).
Popular in Vietnam and pies. They are baked most often in the form of the moon or fish. This baking is called Ban Nuong.
Rice dishes in Vietnamese cuisine are known under the general name "Com." Rice is present in the diet of the Vietnamese not only in a “pure” form, but also is part of a huge number of very complex dishes as one of the ingredients. It is noteworthy that often rice in Vietnamese dishes is not easy to visually detect - it is subjected to special heat treatment, impregnated with sauces and oils, so that it changes beyond recognition.
As the main ingredient in many dishes, solid rice "Gao Te" is used. Sticky rice is known as Gao Nep. It is usually used for baking. There is also a special Chiodao fragrant rice, from which seasonings and a variety of delicacies are prepared.
Vietnamese culinary specialists use rice flour for making noodles, flat cakes, pancakes, as well as rice paper, from which rolls with various fillings are then folded.
Desserts and drinks
Among the desserts popular in Vietnam are candied fruits, ice cream, yogurt, as well as local exotic fruits, most of which Europeans simply have not heard of.
Coffee in Vietnam is drunk very strong and sweet, sometimes milk is added to it. Of the varieties of tea, green is most popular, and locals most often quench thirst with the so-called "Soda Chan" - a drink made of carbonated mineral water with lemon and sugar added.
One of the "chips" of Vietnamese national cuisine are also alcoholic drinks. So, for example, vodka here insist on herbs, flowers and insides of reptiles, and a very strong tincture is prepared from ginseng.
Legumes and nuts
Beans, peas and lentils, as well as soy are very popular in Vietnam. Tofu cheese is prepared from soybeans, which is used in many dishes. Bean sprouts marinate or fry in oil.
Local chefs grind peanuts into pasta, which is then added to soups and noodle dishes. Often peanut crumbs are used to decorate dishes.
Oil is made from sesame seeds in Vietnam, which is sprayed with salads before serving.
Spicy herbs and seasonings
One of the important ingredients of Vietnamese cuisine is fresh herbs. Cilantro, mint and basil are finely chopped and added to dishes a few minutes before being cooked.
Chili and black pepper are also popular. Sometimes thin sliced chili peppers are served with rice dishes. Culinary experts believe that chili and other spicy seasonings can kill pathogenic bacteria and microorganisms that can be found in food.
Useful properties and contraindications
Among the factors that make traditional Vietnamese cuisine healthy, one should highlight the minimum heat treatment, the abundance of fresh vegetables and fruits, as well as a wide assortment of seafood. In addition, gluten is almost completely absent in Vietnamese food, which makes it useful for people suffering from intolerance to this protein. Spices and herbs have a beneficial effect on immunity, and low white sugar in foods helps prevent diabetes and prevents weight gain.
At the same time, nutritionists emphasize that European tourists with local delicacies should still be very careful.
First of all, an excess of white peeled rice in the diet is capable of provoking a sodium-potassium imbalance. In addition, even in purified tap water, which is used for cooking, there are bacteria and microorganisms that can cause serious health problems. Also, contrary to the assurances of local chefs, spices and herbs are not able to completely destroy all parasites and peddlers of infection, and therefore you should still refrain from eating dishes of half-baked meat or fish.
Cooking Vietnamese Pho Soup
To prepare the Vietnamese Fo soup, you will need the following ingredients: a kilogram of beef bones, 400 g of beef, 10 g of anise, 20 g of cardamom, the same amount of mustard, 100 g of ginger root, 50 g of red onion, 400 g of rice noodles, several feathers of green onions, black pepper, lemon, fish sauce and mint to taste.
Rinse beef bones and fill with salted cold water. Let them stand for two hours, then boil for half an hour in a deep saucepan.
Sauté grated ginger root with chopped onion. Add anise, cardamom and mustard. Pour the mixture into the bone broth and boil for eight hours.
Add salt and fish sauce, as well as sliced beef. Boil it for an hour.
Boil rice noodles in a separate bowl.
Serve Fo soup in a deep bowl. First they put noodles there, then pour the broth with slices of beef. Garnish with finely chopped mint and feathers of green onions, and lemon juice is added for the aroma.
Cooking bags of chicken and cheese
To prepare this delicious and unusual dish you will need: 300 g of minced chicken or turkey, one teaspoon of ground coriander, garlic paste and white pepper, one egg, one tablespoon of corn starch, the same amount of fish sauce, two teaspoons of soy sauce, 100 g of goat cheese, as well as dough for spring rolls and deep-frying oil.
Mix the minced meat with soy sauce, add coriander, white pepper, fish sauce and garlic paste, as well as egg and starch. Mix thoroughly until the mass is completely homogeneous.
Cut each sheet of spring roll dough into four pieces. In total, you will need 10 sheets of dough, of which you will get forty pieces.
In the middle of each of the blanks, put 2 tsp. minced meat. Mash the filling lightly with your fingers and place a small piece of cheese inside. After that, completely “wrap” the cheese with minced meat so that it does not leak when frying.
Roll up the workpiece, combining the corners first, and then the edges, folding them with an accordion. Pinch your fingers on top to form a kind of pouch.
Heat the deep-frying oil, then fry the bags for two to three minutes. Serve them hot, with sweet and sour chili sauce.