Vietnamese Diet

Spring rolls. A Vietnamese diet is characteristic of fish, vegetables, poultry,
spices, and/or rice
Photo by: Hajime NAKANO, Creative Commons

The Vietnamese diet is, no doubt, one of the tastiest and healthiest in the world. Unlike Western food items, Vietnam’s local dishes contain only all-natural ingredients—fish, vegetables, poultry, spices, rice—that are home-grown in the country’s fertile soil. They all contribute to the wonderful taste and texture that are distinctly Vietnamese.

Vietnamese people love to eat uncooked vegetables—like salads and pickles, liberally sprinkled with a variety of spices including basil, coriander, ginger, mint, chilli peppers, garlic, etc. Lemongrass, an edible grass grown in the tropics, adds a lemony flavor and aromatic scent to Vietnamese dishes. As a result of the extensive use of spices, Vietnamese dishes are excellently seasoned and delectably colourful.

Many Vietnamese cooks use the methods of braising, simmering, steaming and stir-frying to make different dishes including Gà (poultry), Ðồ Biển (seafood), Bò (beef) and Món Chay (vegetarian). The abovementioned methods are also used to cook famous Vietnamese street foods that never fail to make stomachs grumble and mouths water.

As Vietnam’s traditional egg rolls, Cha Gio were once made for people of royal blood. The Cha Gio is actually a spring roll inside a spring roll that contains a mix of vegetable and herbs. Meanwhile, Vietnamese Chicken Wings are for people who like meatier meals. To give the dish a unique Oriental flavor, the chicken wings are marinated before they are roasted or grilled. There is the popular Vietnam dish Pho Bo, a well-loved beef noodle dish even among non-Vietnamese. Pho Bo consists of beef, noodles, bean sprouts and some mint and basil, which are boiled and best eaten while steaming hot.

Of course, no Vietnamese dish is complete without Nuoc Mam, or fish sauce. Nuoc Mam is made by fermenting fish and salt for several months in large barrels. Despite its strong and pungent smell, fish sauce is actually subtle tasting and blends well with most Vietnamese dishes. Vietnamese people are very fond of Nuoc Mam and its variants like Nuoc Mam Chan, which is a dipping sauce made by combining fish sauce, coconut milk, lime juice, rice vinegar, chilli and garlic. The sauce is a good accompaniment to Vietnamese Chicken Wings and Cha Gio.

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