Vietnamese cuisine and traditions
Vietnam is a unique country with its culture and traditions, and the national cuisine is also amazing and unique.
Vietnamese cuisine is a combination of all known traditions of the world: Indian, Japanese, Chinese and so on. But in spite of this it remains unique and absolutely unlike the others.
Visiting the local restaurants, you will be surprised by a huge range of dishes and good price policy. A huge plus of Vietnamese cuisine are low, reasonable prices and good quality dishes. Vietnamese cuisine was recently recognized as the cheapest in the world, but not because it is bad cooking, but because all products used to create dishes are mostly grown in the country and obtained almost for free.
Mostly there is a predominance of seafood dishes, but also quite a few standard meat dishes. So there is a lot to choose from. Vietnamese people are rather fastidious in their cuisine and apart from standard ingredients they often use snakes, rats, turtles and sea mammals. Few restaurants can boast the menu with dishes from ostrich meat, snakes and even dogs. And they will cost very little. Vacationers have a stereotype that the Vietnamese people just love to eat insects, but this is far from it. So if you want to try a variety of midges, then you are definitely not in Vietnam, but in Thailand or Cambodia.
According to all traditions, any meal is considered a collective activity. Therefore, at lunch, you should not be surprised that you will be brought a huge dish with numerous plates of food. According to the rules, everyone eats with chopsticks actually from one plate. But if you come to an expensive restaurant, the tourists are not affected by this rule there and the food will be served in accordance with established European traditions.
If we compare with neighboring Asian countries, the local dishes are not spicy, and therefore will please absolutely any tourist. However, you should not overeat on the first day of stay in Vietnam, as the national dishes are little like familiar to us the home cooking. Therefore, in the first days you should be careful in the choice and consumption of some dishes. The Vietnamese are very prudent people, so some restaurants also serve European cuisine. In recent years, a lot of Russian cuisine is also found.
As for the other Asian countries, the basis for most dishes is rice. There are dozens of varieties of this cereal: brown, red, sticky and so on. This variety is not surprising at all, since Vietnam ranks second in the ranking of rice cultivation. Every day no Vietnamese does not do without at least a handful of flavored product.
Rice noodles come next to rice in the list of national dishes. Egg noodles can also be found, but less frequently. Noodles are prepared in different ways, so they can be both thin and thick. The world-famous soup, Fo, is not without them. Among other things, they are fried simply with vegetables, and the result is a delicious dish.
Then come seafood, the choice is endless, starting with banal shrimp and ending with snails and octopus. Vietnamese are also very fond of meat: pork, chicken and even dog meat.
Dairy products are practically not consumed by the locals. So you can buy them only in large supermarkets at prices that are almost the same as in Russia. But surprisingly, the Vietnamese people are very fond of tofu cheese and often add it to a variety of dishes.
And how can we do without their favorite vegetables and herbs? While cooking they are added in almost every dish. The set is standard: potatoes, peppers, onions, carrots and so on. Vietnamese cuisine owes its originality to herbs: lemongrass, mint. From spices they are fond of ginger, soy and fish sauce, garlic and onions.
What to try from Vietnamese cuisine:
This is the most famous and favorite dish of all the Vietnamese people. It is a soup with different kinds of meat, rice noodles and sprouted wheat. Basically this dish is eaten for breakfast, but tourists do not adhere to this rule and order in a restaurant, as at lunch, and in the evening. There are no special traditions of cooking, but the result is insanely delicious. However, experience has shown that not all tourists appreciate the taste of Fo soup.
It is a very thick rice porridge with small pieces of cooked chicken or other meat. Rice is mixed with water and boiled until the grits are fully cooked. A fish sauce and lemongrass are then added. The porridge is served hot. By the way, it is very useful for an upset stomach.
It is a favorite dish of the Vietnamese and very easy to prepare. It has Chinese roots but has been made in Vietnam for centuries. It consists of fried vegetables and fungus wrapped in a rice pancake. After all the manipulation, the finished roll is placed in a deep fryer and fried until crispy. There is also a variant for vegetarians called the Fresh Roll. The main difference is that this dish is not fried. As is customary, either soy sauce or fish sauce is served as the sauce.
This is a plain, homemade rice noodle. It is made from rice flour and rolled into thin rolls called con bun. There are many ways to prepare it, each of which gives a completely different taste. Con bun is mostly made with beef and snails.
A favorite Vietnamese dessert found literally everywhere. Banh Com are small buns made of glutinous rice and sprinkled with coconut shavings. The decoration is banana leaves.
Where and What You Can Eat
There can be no questions, where to eat in Vietnam, because there are numerous restaurants literally at every step. And you can choose a place that will fully satisfy any taste and size of the purse. The minimum price starts at 80 rubles per person. To drink beer and eat a couple of hearty dishes, you will have to pay about 159 rubles. Cheap, isn’t it? Then the price will increase depending on the class of the institution. It is worth remembering that at the resorts, food prices are much higher, and it is understandable due to what.
Seafood dishes are always more expensive than meat. If you see the same price in seafood and meat, you know that in a dish with sea creatures you will find only fishy smell and tails. In non-tourist areas, the cafes are designed for locals, so the prices are lower and the portions are huge. The only disadvantage is that the range is not so great. Among the tourists are very popular “kitchen courses”, where for a fee you will be taught to cook Vietnamese national dishes.
There are many themed restaurants in Vietnam, such as Snake Restaurants. Here you will be given a whole show, in which you will see the whole process of cooking about ten dishes from the snake. This pleasure will cost a lot, but the show is very entertaining.
You can also try the dishes of cold-blooded snakes in a regular restaurant for a low price, but instead of snake meat there will be only snake skins.
In some provinces, rats are considered a favorite dish. Such love is famous for the city of Choudok. However, do not expect that in any restaurant you will be served mutilated rat. There are not many such places and you will have to look for a long time to find an institution where the menu will be a dish from these creepy animals.
You should not buy food in supermarkets. The prices there are exorbitant. This is due to the fact that there are not many large stores around the country. For example, in Hajon there are no stores at all with the usual shelves and price tags. Any commercial space is a room filled with goods without price tags and other identifying marks. Do not believe that the sellers know absolutely all the prices.
Basically, the cost is determined by the person who came to the store: more expensive for tourists, and cheaper for locals. The cost of milk and breakfast cereals here is much higher than in Russia. Although, most likely, this jump is due to the large number of tourists, because no one but them eats such products.
If you want a quick snack, then the best option would be a loaf with various additives, which will be made right in front of the buyer. It will cost about 13 rubles.
The country is famous for its abundance of exotic fruits. They are bananas, coconuts, durian, guava, sapodilla, lychee, pineapple and so on. You can buy them absolutely everywhere, and the prices do not bite. The only thing in large markets the cost of fruit is overpriced because of the tourists, so it is best to take them from street vendors. All exotics are sold in whole and not peeled as in Thailand.
In any store and café you can see a variety of alcoholic beverages, ranging from beer to high-end wines. In addition, there are a variety of soft drinks. Vietnam produces very tasty local wine. Wine products are known for Dalat, where drinks are made for export. One bottle of regular wine will cost about 115 rubles, and in tourist cities the price bar rises many times.
Beer here is cheap and costs about 20 rubles for 0.33 liter. As for this product, even in tourist places it is quite inexpensive, due to high demand. It is worth buying a bottle of whiskey with snake or other creatures before you go home. But beware of the prices, as they may be much higher in the market than in the souvenir store.
There are no problems with the export of alcohol if it is carefully packed in the luggage. You can drink such whiskey, and after drinking it some desperate refill the bottles with other alcohol.
Among the non-alcoholic drinks are popular shakes and freshes made from exotic fruits that grow directly in Vietnam. At a restaurant, a glass of freshly squeezed drink will cost about 50 rubles. Everyone strongly advises to try sugar cane syrup, which will cost only 9 rubles. And it will be made before your eyes from fresh stalks with the addition of lime juice.
Apart from everything else, Vietnam is famous for its tea, which is mainly grown in Dalat. The locals themselves drink only green tea, but they also produce black tea. The most famous brand is oolong, which has a number of health benefits. It is much more expensive than its counterparts.
Also worth trying is the so-called artichoke tea. It can be in the form of dried leaves or in the form of resin, which is then dissolved in hot water.
You cannot do without the delicious coffee, which is not inferior in taste to the world famous producers. The Vietnamese have their own way of making it, which does not involve boiling. They simply pour it with water and add sugar and condensed milk. You can have this divine drink at any restaurant or café for only 47 rubles. The best way to buy dried coffee is the market in Dalat, where you will be charged for a package of 0,5 kilo for 150 rubles, but no one forbids the bargaining. The main thing to remember is not to buy coffee in the main tourist centers, because the price there will definitely overestimate the price.
Vietnam has very low prices for carbonated bottled water. A small bottle of cola in the store will cost no more than 13 rubles. But be sure to buy natural drinks made from vegetables and fruits grown in the local fields. And you can come across a drink made from fruit that you have never tried and never heard of. It is strongly advised to take bottled water in supermarkets and with a sealed cap, as there was a case where a man on the street collected empty bottles and went home with them, and some time later sold the same container, only filled with ordinary sewage water.
What to try in Vietnam from the food
You have probably already heard such a concept as gastronomic tourism. This is when people come to another country not only and not so much to explore its attractions, but to immerse themselves in the local culture of culinary values. So, in this article you will learn what to try in Vietnam in the first place. Especially since there are many dishes to choose from: the national cuisine of this country has more than half a thousand dishes!
Soup lovers do not hesitate to try
Strange as it may seem, Vietnam is a country where people love soup even more than here.
One of the most popular first dishes in Vietnam. It is respected not only by locals but also by tourists, because it resembles the usual noodle soup. It is rice noodles boiled in a meat (chicken, seafood) broth, which also chopped some vegetables and herbs. Slices of beef, pork or poultry in “Fo” soup are cut in thin slices. Sprouted germinated soybean sprouts garnish this aromatic dish. You should definitely try this dish because it is no.1 dish in Vietnam.
By the way, this national dish can be offered not only for lunch, as it is usual in Russia, but also for breakfast or for dinner. Here you can enjoy this dish at any time of the day or night. In general, “Fo” soup is a substantial, nutritious and delicious Vietnamese national dish. In the cafe soup is inexpensive, the price depends on the establishment and the type of dish, the average price is 35-50 thousand VND (about a half or two dollars). Local residents eat the soup with several cutlery: both with chopsticks and a spoon.
Also a very popular soup, one of those you have to try in Vietnam. Just like Pho, it is cooked in a meat broth. Only here, the noodles are cooked a little differently, and thin pieces of meat are replaced by good-quality huge chunks of beef on the bone. Hence the more rich consistency of the dish. As a bonus, Boon Bo Hue is flavored with shrimp paste and lemongrass. Bun Bo Hue and Pho are worth trying for comparison.
This dish is a curious variation of fish soup served with small cakes and as a dressing – fish sauce, aromatic spices: garlic and pepper. The soup is unthinkable without rice noodles. This first dish of Vietnamese cuisine is extremely flavorful and distinctive. It does not resemble our soup, it is worth a try!
A separate song is the so-called “Hot Pot” (translated from English as “hot pot”). This is room for the imagination of the client, because you can make your own soup of what you like. The minimum price for this restaurant service starts at VND 150,000 ($8). By the way, this pot is large, it is quite possible to satisfy the hunger of two tourists.
So, you order a Hot Pot, and your table brings a real gas burner, on it – already installed a pot of broth. A dozen (or more) plates with different ingredients are at your service all around. They are already washed and chopped, so all you have to do is toss them in the order and quantity you want. The products are the same as in the above-mentioned Vietnamese soups, but the moment of your own participation in the dish is priceless. Moreover, you can check the freshness of all the ingredients or try raw vegetables separately, for example.
Spices are also given in sufficient quantities. If you have any questions or doubts you can ask the waiter, he usually walks nearby and keeps watch.
One of the dishes that exotic Vietnamese cuisine prides itself on. In our culture kvakushki are inedible animals, but if you go to the country you can scarcely try this snack.
In general, if you ignore prejudices, the taste of frogs’ legs is similar to chicken. Basically, nothing special, but if you want to feel all the tenderness of frog meat, then do not stop at the feet!
Order and try the grilled whole carcasses (they will cost $4-7 per serving).
What else to try in Vietnam from the food? When it comes to the exotic, order the crocodile. They like to cook crocodile in Vietnam and cook it in different ways: grill, broth, and even roast it on a spit in the street – from the top roasted layer they cut off pieces and sell them to the willing.
A crocodile costs about $ 4-6 for a dish; the meat looks like it consists of scales (a bit like fish in consistency). If you compare it to the already familiar types of meat, it is more like white chicken. The taste is extraordinary, delicate, but that is only if the cook was a decent one.
If you are not lucky with the cook, you can not remember about the tenderness, it is better to try the dish again in another place. A poorly cooked crocodile is hard to chew. Perhaps the most winning version of crocodile meat is curry stew.
It looks like beef, very much to the liking. It is usually served as steaks of varying degrees of toughness. Still, it is a bit difficult to chew ostrich. From exotic stuff, it is better to order turtle soup. Of course, nature lovers will throw you with tramps, but you should try such a delicious soup!
To dine for two, just order half a turtle, which will cost about ten dollars (240 thousand dong). For this price you will be offered a whole pot of the first, and the dish will be cooked in front of you. As usual, the basis of the broth, which adds a lot of chopped herbs. In the pot the turtle meat is already pampered with flavors.
You put the separately boiled rice noodles in the bowls and then top them with the soup. And then you fill it up with whatever you want: soy or fish sauce, lime juice, spices… Turtle meat tastes like turkey, but softer and more tender. By the way, the Vietnamese cuisine is characterized by a sour taste, so the locals boldly add lime even in soups and meat. And of course, you can’t have seafood without lime juice!
Vietnamese national dishes are not only the elaborate combinations you can order in restaurants. Many interesting things can be ordered in a simple cafe or right on the street, from shopkeepers.
Stuffed baguettes, a relic of Vietnam’s colonial past. The French, who once settled in Vietnam, left such a mark. The locals loved these European buns, so baguettes became the most popular type of fast food in Vietnam. A wide variety of fillings are stuffed into these baguettes, several types of vegetables, along with sauces, meat, ham or seafood. In general, these Vietnamese dishes are always in demand, even among those who reject any exoticism.
It is known that in any cuisine of Vietnam you will definitely find rice. Even those who have not been to Asia know that in this region it is instead of bread, without it there is no way. This is the main side dish that is not only boiled but also fried. The peculiarity of the Vietnamese version of rice is a specific fish sauce, which is a little like soy sauce, but sweeter in taste and has a peculiar smell.
Rice is also used to make rice cakes in Vietnam. More precisely, from rice flour. They are steamed and called Vietnamese Banh Bao. In shape and taste, they might remind us of our usual manty. They are also worth tasting to appreciate the variety of flavors of Vietnamese national cuisine. There can be a great many fillings. The most traditional is minced meat with vegetables, boiled eggs, herbs and spices.
These are small rolls, which differ from the usual in that they are fried until crispy. But not always either. It is a cold snack: the rolls are wrapped in a pancake or thin rice paper. The filling can be meat or fish, seafood (often shrimp), minced meat with vegetables, and fruits and berries.
Spring rolls (also called Cha Gio) can be eaten “raw” or fried on a pan or grill.
Often these rice pancakes are served with greens and sauces like fish sauce, soy sauce, or even peanut sauce. Without a doubt, the dish is a must-try. It’s also a great option for a beer snack!
What to drink?
The national cuisine of Vietnam can boast of drinks, too. Coffee is probably the most important among them.
Let’s remember that Vietnam is a former French colony, and the aromatic drink, like baguettes, is an echo of the colonial past. By the way, Vietnam was already overtaking Brazil in coffee exports and was on the 1st place in the world! There are varieties for every taste: Arabica, mocha, robusta, lovage… In the cafe you will be offered a drink made from a mixture of several varieties.
Vietnamese coffee has an unforgettable aroma. The aftertaste is absolutely amazing: no sourness, just freshness and coolness. The coffee is made directly in the cup, through a special metal filter (again, remember its brother, the French press). So, the filter is placed on a mug, a few spoonfuls of freshly ground coffee are poured into it and pressed. Hot water is poured on top. The coffee seeps into the cup, five minutes – and voila, you can drink it! Coffee in Vietnam is served with ice, condensed milk, and even an egg.
Coffee with egg is surprisingly mild. It is most often sold in the north of the country, for example, in Hanoi. Its consistency is perfect and it melts in your mouth! The coffee is strong and bitter at the bottom of the cup and whipped egg yolks with sugar at the top. This drink can be cold or hot. Russians usually prefer the hot version. By the way, gourmets are advised to eat egg coffee with a spoon.
One of the most favorite national drinks of the Vietnamese. The juice of tangerine, lime, and kumquat is added to it… The juice acquires a green hue. A lot of ice is poured into the glass, which makes it taste watery as it melts. You have to drink it quickly. Juice without additives is great too! Incredibly sweet, with a grassy flavor, very refreshing. It costs an average of seven thousand dong and is made on every street. In front of you the juice is squeezed from a stick of cane on a special machine.
The cuisine of Vietnam is rich: what to try, everyone decides for himself, but knowing the preferences of our brother, we recommend to try rice vodka. The most popular Vietnamese vodka is called after the name of the capital – Hanoi. It is made in different strengths – from 30 to 40 degrees.
By the way, in the villages of Vietnam, people are not lazy to make their own rice vodka. When the French ruled the ball, the colonizers declared a monopoly on alcohol. The natives were humorous and called their moonshine Quoc Lui, which means “the state retreats”. However, you should not try moonshine, there is a risk of poisoning.
When listing the dishes of Vietnamese cuisine, we should not forget about fruits. Because of a hot climate they grow in such abundance that the eyes can’t help but diverge. Let us mention the most unusual and delicious of them. We must say at once – contrary to the laws of the market, a lot in Vietnam – does not mean cheap. Artful sellers like to raise the price, especially in the off-season.
It’s not quite a “rarity” for our people, but the Vietnamese are absolutely not like its counterparts, which are sold in our stores. Once you try it, you will feel a huge difference. In Vietnam, these ripe, fragrant fruits from the branches go straight to the markets. Their season starts in March and ends in July. There are many varieties of mango, those that grow in the north are usually orange or with a touch of yellow. Regardless of color, they are all very tasty. But seedless varieties are still the best. True, they cost a lot more.
Foul-smelling fruit. In some countries it is even forbidden to eat durian in public places so as not to repel tourists. But if you dare to step over the smell, you will be rewarded with the creamy filling of prickly durian. True, the taste can vary, depending on the variety and maturity of the fruit. Those who have tasted the delights of durian say it is like a fruit salad where the flavors of strawberry, pineapple and strawberry are combined.
The breadfruit is hardly as fragrant as the durian. It is very difficult to cut, it is large and sticky, it is better to buy the fruit already cut. Its taste is peculiar, it can be used as an accompaniment to hot meat or vegetable dishes. You can guess from the name that the fruit is nourishing and caloric, you will be full of it quickly.
It is sold year-round all over the country. It resembles a small brown kiwi. The taste is sweet, similar to persimmons, and the flesh is also persimmon-like, but with a hard bone inside. The overripe sapodilla is sugary, with a honey-like aftertaste. Of course, it is better to try for yourself, not just read the description.
Now you know what to try in Vietnam. But in order not to be alone with your earthenware friend and not to spoil your vacation, remember to be prudent. No matter how much you would love to eat, don’t fill up on exotic foods. Eat no more than three or four foreign fruits a day. And, of course, wash them thoroughly under running water.
A comparison of the price and quality of food in a Vietnamese restaurant and roadside fast food in this video.
Author: Maria Sibirskaya
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About frog legs. The legs are not of swamp frogs, but of specially bred frogs. They are much larger than the usual frogs and the meat is more tender than chicken, although the taste is very similar.