Vietnamese cuisine is known for its common use of fish sauce, soy sauce and hoisin sauce. Vietnamese recipes use many vegetables, herbs and spices, including lemon grass, lime, and kaffir lime leaves. Throughout all regions the emphasis is always on serving fresh vegetables and/or fresh herbs as side dishes along with dipping sauce. The Vietnamese also have a number of Buddhist vegetarian dishes. The most common meats used in Vietnamese cuisine are pork, beef, prawns, various kinds of tropical fish, and chicken. Duck is used less widely.
The Three Regions
Vietnamese cuisine can be basically divided into three categories, each pertaining to a specific region. Northern Vietnamese cooking tends to be much simpler in preparation in comparison to food of the Central and South, and features a lot of stir-frys, employing more often the use of soy sauce as well (Northern cuisine is generally more Chinese influenced). Due to the North being historically poorer, variations of national foods are served less abundantly (in terms of ingredients) in the north. Southern Vietnamese cooking has an extensive use of different kinds of vegetables, fish, and other seafood, it typically also holds the most French influence. Lastly, Central Vietnamese cooking is perhaps the most unique of all and probably the most distinct in taste - being much, much spicier than its Northern and Southern counterparts, as well as being much more colourful. Central cooking is also obviously influenced by the royal setting (therefore by the little-known royal Vietnamese cooking), being not only ve ry spicy and colourful but focusing on a multitude of small side dishes set on the table at once. The more dishes on a family table, the wealthier that particular family was.
Meats such as snake, soft-shell turtle, goat, and dog are enjoyed almost exclusively as "cocktail delicacies" with alcohol, and are not considered typical everyday fare. However, dog meat consumption is more widespread in the North, where it is considered a borderline mainstream meat, although not eaten nearly as often as pork or fish. Balut (H?t v?t l?n), a common dish in other Asian countries, can be found in Vietnam as well. Balut is a fertilized duck egg with a nearly-developed embryo inside that is boiled and eaten in the shell. It's typically served with fresh herbs, salt, and pepper.
Popular Vienamese Dishes
Bò 7 Món :
Vietnamese seven courses of Beef. Typically served at weddings. A less popular version is the Ca 7 Mon (Cá 7 Món) - or, seven courses of fish. These multi-course meals are on the more higher-eating end of Vietnamese cuisine.
Pho (Ph?) – beef noodle soup (Ph? bò):
One out of a multitude of Vietnamese soup noodle dishes, it is arguably the most widely known Vietnamese dish. It is a beef noodle soup with a rich, clear broth achieved from hours upon hours of boiling bones and different herbs. There are many varieties of pho, with different selections of meats (most commonly beef and chicken) along with beef balls. Pho is typically served in bowls with white rice noodle, spring onion, (in pho tai) slices of raw beef (to be cooked by the boiling hot broth), and then of course the broth itself. Pho is often garnished on the side (more typically in the style of the South) with bean sprouts, lime wedges and other herbs. While typically eaten for breakfast in Vietnam, in other countries it is eaten for lunch and dinner as well.
Banh Bao (Bánh bao):
Steamed bun dumpling that can be stuffed with onion, mushrooms, vegetables, etc. Banh bao is an adaptation from the Chinese baozi to fit Vietnamese taste. Exclusively vegetable banh bao are also available. Vegetarian banh bao are popular food in Buddhist temples. Typical stuffings for banh bao include slices of marinated "xa xíu" (from Chinese cooking) meat, tiny boiled duck eggs or quail eggs, and pork.
Banh Chung (Bánh chung): Sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves and stuffed with mung beans, fatty pork and black sesame seeds, traditionally eaten during the Lunar New Year (Tet) The south Vietnamese version typically has various other ingredients added and is known as bánh Tet; however, this name seems to generally refer to bánh chung.
Banh Mi Thit (Bánh mì k?p th?t):
Vietnamese Sandwich, French bread containing paté, Vietnamese mayo, different selections of Vietnamese cold cuts and deli (a large variety, most commonly with ham, head cheese, and a Vietnamese bologna), pickled daikon and carrot, cucumber slices. Often garnished with coriander, black pepper, and jalapeño pepper (optional). This food is common everywhere in Vietnam as a favourite of factory workers and school kids and eaten for any meal of the day, commonly breakfast and lunch. There are a wide variety of banh mi (with different meats) and many shops have popped up across North America serving primarily Banh mi.
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