Pages under our Cuisine Tab:
- Basics: series of writings & pictures on the basics and essentials of Vietnamese cooking
- Video: a collection of clips about food, people eating food, people cooking food…basically anything to do with FOOD, you’ll find here.
- Recipes: aside from your usual recipes of Vietnamese dishes, you’ll also find recipes most commonly found at home rather than restaurants
Lots of recipes, stories, pictures, and of course news about the cuisine of Vietnam
Eating and cooking, of course, begins at home. Years ago, when we had little money and were strewn far from Vietnam, my parents made due with what little we had and made sure I was never far away from a hot steaming bowl of rice. I owe my deep love for all types of food and Vietnamese cuisine to my mother, who while also making sure I never went hungry, also ingrained in me a deep appreciation for the hard work it takes to run the hearth and home. Eating is definitely MY favorite past-time and I’m happy to share with y’all the stories, recipes, tips, and news about the foods of Vietnam.
Living in places like Australia, Switzerland, or Texas (like our bloggers do), it’s hard to come across Vietnamese foods and restaurants. But somehow, the Vietnamese diaspora of the world, while fleeing Communist oppression, remembered to pack away recipes (and several bottles of nước mắm and nước tương) and brought to their new homes the language of food. When we think back to our roots, whether it be Estonia, Italy, Benin, or Omaha, Nebraska, we first think of the food. Cuisine is an intrinsic part of our identity and culture, an undeniable part of our being. My mother delicately made her bánh cuốn and everything else with love and care. She cooked on the fly and came up with some amazing recipes for Ramen noodles and spam when we lived on a tight budget, reminding me that good food anywhere (whether it be Italian or Indian or Irish) comes from the heart and doesn’t have to be high-end & expensive to be enjoyed. Her stern chastisement when I would pick Burger King’s junior Whooper for lunch over bánh mì đặc biệt stayed with me as an adult; there is just no fast-food substitute for good, quality food. So thanks, Mom, for making Sunday morning cháo while sending me off to love be-wan, chicken tikka marsala, burritos, beignets, and Montreal bagels.
A little intro to Vietnamese Cuisine
An truly unique culinary tradition, Vietnam, like any other world’s cuisine, borrows her ingredients and cooking methods from her neighbors. A millennium of rule by China, colonization by the French, porous borders between Laos and Cambodia all add to the make-up of Vietnamese cuisine. Classic recipes found in the home grew out of necessity of readily available ingredients found in the backyard. Today, chefs praise Vietnamese cuisine and often fuse it with other pan-Asian cuisine. Our culinary tradition relies heavily on fresh ingredients and a common meal places an emphasis on communal food served all at once, comprisesd of a vegetable plate, a meat dish, starch (noodles or rice), and a soup dish (since clean water is often hard to come by). Desserts usually come in forms of fresh fruits or chè, a soup dessert of coconut milk, red beans, or again, fresh fruits.
The French colonial era left Vietnam with paté, French roast coffee, and a love for pastries evident in our adaption of their baguettes. Cà phê sữa đá (iced milk coffee) is a uniquely Vietnamese recipe combining French roast coffee and sweetened condensed milk (with roots in Holland). Curries commonly found in the Southern region of Vietnam are influenced by Thai and Indian cuisine. The Imperial rule of the various Vietnamese dynasties added elaborate dishes fit for kings.
Vietnam has three distinct regions and therefore three very distinct culinary categories. The colder northern region (bắc) is heavily influence by Chinese cuisine and tends to be more conservative in spiciness and herb usage; lots of dishes use stir-frying techniques and many classic recipes are noodle-based soups. It is the birthplace of phở! Foods from the mountainous middle region (trung or Huế) tend to be very hot and spicy with many small side dishes, influenced by the Imperial era. French and Thai influences are evident in the southern region’s (nam) cuisine. This region’s recipes are liberal with spices, herbs and fresh vegetables and tend to be on the sweeter side with plenty of sugar.