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10 Typical Vietnamese Dishes

 

1) NEM (SPRING ROLL)

This is a popular dish in Viet Nam. The dish is called Nem Ran by northerners and Cha Gio by southerners. Nem is a preferred dish on special occasions such as Tet Festival and other get-togethers. Ingredients to prepare for the dish are pretty simple in comparison with others. They remain such substances as mince pork, sea crabs, eggs mixed with minced Jew's ears, thin-top mushroom, pachyrrhizus, then rolled in a thin dry pancake and fried. It is such a simple but very delicious and unforgettable dish.

Ingredients

     

- 2 oz translucent rice vermicelli or cellophane noodles, chopped
- 2 tsp dried tree ears (wood fungus or wood ears), soaked until soft and chopped
- 3 Chinese mushroom caps, soaked until soft and chopped
- 6 oz minced pork
- 4 oz water chestnuts, chopped
- 2 stalks spring onions, chopped
- 2 tsp nuoc mam (fish sauce)
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 12-14 sheets banh trang
- Vegetable oil for deep frying
- Cornstarch (optional)

  

To prepare

     

- Put all ingredients except banh trang or rice paper in a large mixing bowl and blend well.
- Adding a tablespoon of cornstarch will give the mixture a smooth texture, but this is optional.
- To adjust seasoning, boil a small nugget of mixture and taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
- In a bowl of tepid water gently lower each sheet of banh trang or spring roll skin until soft and shake off excess water.
- Very carefully, lay sheets on a clean chopping board.
- Place a heaped tablespoon of mixture on sheet or skin, roll over once, and fold in sides.
- Roll over once more and tuck in firmly, patting the ends down.
- Finish making rolls as oil heats in the wok.
- Gently lower each roll in the oil to deep fry - a few at a time until light brown and crisp.

  

The Nem should be dipped in Nuoc Cham (dipping sauce). Here is the recipe for the sauce.


Ingredients for the sauce

     

- 2 Tbls. sugar
- 2 Tbls. warm water
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 2 Tbls. fish sauce (nuoc mam)
- The juice and pulp from 1/2 a lime (about 2 tablespoons)
- 2 red chillies, stemed, seeded and sliced thin
- 1 Tbls. white vinegar

  

Place water and sugar in a small bowl and stir until the sugar dissolves.

Add the other ingredients and stir.

 

2) NOM (SALAD WITH HERBS)



Nom is a combination of a variety of fresh vegetables, considered to be salad in Western countries. Yet, the make-up of nom is slightly different. Nom can be prepared with or without meat or shrimp, and is often served with 'nem' (spring roll).

The main ingredients include grated pieces of turnip, cabbage or papaya and slices of cucumber with grated boiled lean pork. Other auxiliary ingredients are grated carrot, slices of hot chilly and broken roasted ground nuts. These are used to make the dish more colourful. All are mixed thoroughly before being soaked in vinegar, sugar, garlic, hot chilly and seasoned with salt.

The presentation of the dish is also very meticulous. The mixture of ingredients is put into a dish before being covered with some spicy vegetables.

To try a mouthful of nom is to enjoy a combination of all the tastes life has to offer, including sour, hot, sweet, salty, and fragrant. The dish helps digest at meal and party times. It can become an addictive aid to assist the real connoisseur to enjoy more food.

Ingredients

     

- 1 lb (500 g) pearl onions or small boiling (pickling) onions, peeled
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar or white (distilled) vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 lb (500 g) boneless and skinless chicken thigh and/or breast, or about 3 cups coarsely shredded cooked chicken, bones and skin removed
- about 3 cups water or stock
- 2 cups bean sprouts (about 5 oz/150 g), rinsed and drained (optional)
- 1/2 bunch mint or Vietnamese mint (rau ram), leaves only, coarsely torn (about 1 oz/30 g)
- 3 fresh long red chilies, seeded and very coarsely chopped
- 3 limes, freshly squeezed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper

  

To prepare

Cut the onions into quarters, and marinate for about 10-15 minutes in the vinegar, sugar, and fish sauce.

If using raw chicken, bring the water or stock to a boil and plunge the chicken into the water or stock. Lower the heat immediately to a bare boil, and simmer the chicken for about 5-7 minutes, or until the flesh has cooked white and opaque throughout. Stir occasionally to ensure even cooking. Remove from the liquid, cool, then shred with fingers or two forks into small bits. The consistency should be long shreds, not a fine dice. Reserve in a mixing bowl. Pre-cooked chicken merely needs shredding.

If using the sprouts, bring another pot of water to a boil. Plunge the sprouts into the boiling water, then drain immediately and refresh under cold water.

Roll several mint leaves at a time into a tight bundle and thinly slice crosswise with a knife to create a chiffonade shred. Prepare the chilies.

At the last moment, toss all the prepared ingredients together, including the vinegar marinade. Season with lime juice, salt and pepper, and if desired, garnish with a chili flower.

 

3) PHO (RICE NOODLE)


  

Pho, the famous noodle soup of Hanoi and considered by some to be Vietnam's national dish, is a common breakfast or snack.

Steaming bowls of soup, often topped with chopped cooked chicken instead of the more expensive rare beef, are sold from numerous food stalls and small restaurants in city streets.

The success of this dish depends on the full-flavoured stock, for which there is no quick substitute. Even though it takes a long time to cook, it is well worth the effort. The stock can be made in advance and frozen, making it easy to put the dish together when required.

Ingredients

     

1 kg
350 g
5 cm
1 teaspoon
2.5 liters
6
1
4
6
2 tablespoons
400 g
150 g
3
1

Beef shin bones
Gravy beef
Fresh ginger, thinly sliced into 2 in length
Salt
Water
Black peppercorns
Cinnamon sticks
Cloves
Coriander seeds
Nuoc cham sauce
Thick fresh rice noodles
Rump steak, thinly sliced
Spring onions (scallions), finely chopped
Medium onion, very thinly sliced
 

To prepare

     

- Place the bones, gravy beef, ginger, salt and water in a large pan.
- Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer very gently, uncovered, for 3 1/2 hours.
- Skim off any scum that forms on the surface.
- Add the peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves, coriander seeds and nuoc cham sauce. Cook for another 40 minutes.
- Remove the gravy beef and set it aside to cool.
- Drain the stock, reserving all the liquid and discarding the bones and spices. Return the liquid to the pan. When the gravy beef is cool enough to handle, cut it against the grain into very fine slices. Set aside.
- Close to serving time, plunge the noodles into a pan of boiling water and cook them for about 10 seconds only, otherwise they will soften and fall apart. Drain the noodles well and divide them among large individual soup bowls.
- Arrange the toppings on a platter in the centre of the table.
- Bring the beef stock to a rapid boil. Place some slices of the cooked meat as well as a few slices of the raw steak into each bowl of noodles. Ladle the boiling stock over the top, sprinkle over the spring onion (scallion) and onion slides and serve. Each diner chooses their own toppings and can also add sauces such as sweet chili sauce and hoisin sauce to their dish.

  

Toppings

     

Chopped red chili, bean sprouts, fresh purple basil leaves, chopped spring onions (scallions), thin lime wedges, fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves.

Chili sauce and hoisin sauce (optional)

  

 

4) BUN CHA (NOODLE WITH FISH OR PORK)

         

Ingredients for this dish include rice vermicelli, grilled pork and spicy, raw vegetables and well mixed fish sauce. For a dish of bun cha you take a dish of rice vermicelli, a dish full of vegetables and a bowl of fish sauce combined with vinegar, sugar, hot chilly, garlic and pepper. The sauce will then contain all the essential tastes, sour, hot, salty, and sweet. To cap it all there would be a healthy smell from the garlic and pepper. Grilles of well cooked pork would be opened and the contents dropped into the bowl of fish sauce. There are two kinds of cha (grilled pork) used, depending on the cut of the meat. If the pork is cut into small pieces it is called cha mieng (piece of grilled pork), but if it is minced prior to being shaped into small cubes it is named cha bam (minced grill pork).

Apart from pork, cha can also be made of fish, which is called 'Cha Ca'. The vitality and popularity of 'cha ca' was recognized by a particular event which occurred over hundred years ago in Hanoi. The former paint street in the old quarter of the city was renamed Cha Ca street in tribute to the delicious dish. The creation of this famous food, which has bought so much fame to the capital city, was attributed to the Doan family who lived at 14 Cha Ca. To make clients notice their shop the Doan family took the initiative of placing outside a statute of La Vong (an old fisherman), with a fishing rod on one hand and a bamboo creel on the other hand. Hence the name Cha Ca La Vong. The recipe written here is for grilled pork, not grilled fish.

Ingredients

     

1 tablespoon
2 tablespoons
1 large clove
1
2 teaspoons
1 teaspoon
500 g
250 g
125 g
Handful

Light muscovado sugar
Vietnamese fish sauce
Garlic, finely chopped
Shallot, finely chopped
Palm or golden caster sugar
Salt
Boneless pork lion, minced
Rice noodles, cooked
Bean sprouts
Coriander (cilantro) leaves, basil leaves, mint leaves and chives. Lettuce leaves, torn

To prepare

     

- Gently melt the light muscovado sugar with two-thirds of the fish sauce in a heavy based saucepan, stirring all the time.
- Allow to cool a little then transfer it to a bowl and combine it with the garlic, shallot, palm or caster sugar, the remaining fish sauce and salt.
- Add the minced pork, mix thoroughly, then cover and leave to stand for 3 hours.
- Shape the minced pork into 20-24 flat little patties, about 1 inch in diameter, place them under a preheated grill and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, until cooked through. The patties are also very good cooked on the barbecue.
- To serve, divide the noodles between 4 warmed bowls, add the pork, torn lettuce leaves, bean sprouts and herbs.
- Spoon the dipping sauce over the whole lot.

  

 

5) XOI (STEAMED STICKY RICE)


Steamed Sticky Rice is a traditional delicious dish much enjoyed by the Vietnamese. In rural areas, sticky rice is an indispensable part of major banquets held on special and traditional festivals including Tet (Lunar New Year) festival. In urban centres, Xoi is most preferred by people in their breakfast. In Vietnam, there are a lot of things bearing prints of the national cultural character and steamed sticky rice is one among them.

Not many people know that the Phu Gia village near Hanoi is renowned for making this traditional and delicious dish. Every household there has their own way of cooking sticky rice. Its flavour is decided by the recipes. Some households take advantage of modern facilities which are very convenient for their cooking whereas some others prefer traditional cooking tools as they think that the food will be much more delicious. As a result, the traditional style set up by their ancestors will be retained. In preparation, they have to wash the rice carefully and soak it in clean water over night. Steamed sticky rice will be placed in baskets whose bottom is covered with washed lotus or banana leaves. The baskets are finally capped with rush-woven lids to keep the heat.

Everyday, from early morning the villagers get up to cook sticky rice for selling. Many villagers in Phu Gia have become prosperous from selling steamed sticky rice, a contribution to the diversity of traditional craft of Hanoi.

Ingredients

     

2 cups sweet or glutinous rice
1/3 cup dried shrimp
1/2 pound Chinese sausage diced 3/4-inch pieces (available in Chinese Markets, no substitute)
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/4 pound boneless pork chops, 2 thin pieces, at least
1/4 cup chopped green onions, plus extra for garnish
1-teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon thin soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Black pepper
Nuoc Cham, recipe follows

 

To prepare

     

Place rice in bowl and add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Allow to soak for at least 3 hours and up to overnight. Drain the rice in a colander and transfer it to a traditional bamboo sticky rice steaming basket, or another steaming vessel such as a colander or strainer that can sit above boiling water inside of another pot. Add water to the pot and bring to a boil. Add steaming basket with rice and cover. Steam rice for 30 to 45 minutes, until soft and sticky. (The length of time required to cook the rice will depend on how long the rice was soaked, longer soakings require less steaming time.) Remove the pot from the heat, uncover, and fluff with a fork. Keep it warm and fluff it again right before serving.

In a small sauce pan, place the dried shrimp and 1 cup cold water, and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Dice the shrimp and place in a bowl and set aside.

In a dry sauce pan, brown the Chinese sausage until brown on all sides. Remove and place in the bowl with the shrimp.
In the same sauce pan, heat the 2 teaspoons oil and fry the pork chops until brown on both sides. Remove the pork chops and place in the bowl with the shrimp.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large wok over a high flame. Add the scallions and quickly cook for 3 minutes or until softened. Then add the pork, shrimp, and sausage, and fry for 1 minute, stirring well, then add the fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and black pepper. Continue cooking for 3 minutes.

Re-fluff your rice and place in a large bowl. Add the meat mixture to the rice, and, mix together. Press this mixture into a 8-inch round baking pan. It can then be turned out onto a serving platter and cut into 8 wedges. Sprinkle with chopped green onions and a drizzle of Nuoc Cham.

  


Nuoc Cham (dipping sauce):

     

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 fresh hot chili pepper (about 1 1/2-inch long), finely chopped
1/2 lime
1/4-cup fish sauce
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
5 tablespoons water
In a small bowl place garlic and chili. Squeeze in the lime and using a small knife, remove some of the pulp. Add the fish sauce, sugar, and water. Mix well.

 

 


6) BANH CHUNG

 

  

Vietnamese Lunar New Year (Tet) will never be complete without this cake. It's very heavy, very filling, an Atkin dieter's nightmare, but it taste amazing. It takes a LONG time to cook. You read right that it takes 6 hours. And overnight soaking of rice and beans!

Interestingly enough, the story of this famous dish dates back to the early history of Vietnam, about more than 2 thousand years ago. When Hung Vuong, king of the Van Lang kingdom, decided to choose a successor king among his many sons, he declared that whoever pleased him with their special present would come to the throne. Tiet Lieu, the youngest prince came up with Banh Chung that was simple, delicious, and meaningful, to eventually land the throne. Explaining to the father king of why he made Banh Chung, Tiet Lieu said "Rice is the most precious and valuable of all food found in this Kingdom, yet it is abundant. I prepare a dish that represents the love of our nation for you and your kingdom. The square Banh Chung is to symbolize the earth we live on.". To complete his philosophy of the Earth and Sun, Tiet Lieu also presented to the king another small rice-flour cake called banh day, as it would, according to him, symbolize the sky.


Ingredients

     

- 200 g glutinous rice, soaked overnight
- 100-150 g mung beans, soaked overnight
- 100 g pork, cut into chunks,seasoned with salt and pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Strings and 6 phrynium leaves or banana leaves can be used as substitute

 

To prepare

     

- Steam or boil mung bean with half a tsp of salt until soft, may take up to 45 minutes depending on how large your steamer is.
- Smash bean thoroughly.
- Place 2 leaves in one direction, slightly overlapping, then 2 perpendicular, also overlapping, and the last layer like the first.
- If use aluminum foil, place them crossing each other.
- Place half of the rice on the leaves, topped with half of the mung beans.
- Lay the pork on top of the beans, and then add the last of the beans followed by last of the rice.
- Fold the leaves/foils over the cake very tightly into a square, use string to secure the cake.
- Place in a large pot, cover with water and boil for about 6 hours.
- Add water every hour if necessary.
- After 6 hours or so, remove the cake, submerge it into cold water for a few minutes.
- The cake lasts up to 10 days on a cool dry place.
- The easiest way to cut up the cake is to open it and use the string to cut it up into 8 portions.
- Best served with pickled onions.

 



7) BANH CUON (RICE FLOUR STEAMED ROLLS)

  

Bank cuon is favourite breakfast for many Vietnamese. While there are many kinds of "banh cuon", connoisseurs insist that none can compare to that made in Thanh Tri commune where the dish is served with a dressing comprised of lean meat, shrimps, mushrooms, dried onions, which have been fried to a deliciously crispy shade of golden brown, fish sauce, and pepper. All the ingredients are stir-fried and rolled into a banh cuon. Well-made banh cuon must be very thin, white, and sticky. It is even tastier when dipped in a sweet, sour, and spicy sauce.

An ideal destination to try "banh cuon" is 66 To Hien Thanh street, from 6a.m to 9a.m. This stall has operated for almost 50 years and is always full.

Ingredients

     


175 g
45 ml
30 ml
1 teaspoon
225 g
450 g
175 g
3
3
1 packet
1

Cooked crispy roast pork or 4 fresh boneless pork streaky rashers
Clear honey
Dry sherry
Chili powder
Rice vermicelli
Fresh shrimps, cooked and halved
Cooked chicken, finely chopped
Pickled onions, cut into fine strips
Pickled gherkins, cut into fine strips
Round Banh Trang rice paper
Carrot, grated

To prepare

     

- To make the cold crispy pork, take the four rashers of fresh boneless pork. Mix the honey, dry sherry and chili powder thoroughly. Spread the mixture over the pork. Allow to rest for 1 hour or longer if possible.
- Grill the pork slices until really crisp. Turn often so that they are evenly cooked. Allow to cool and cut into thin strips.
- Soak the rice vermicelli in boiled water, slightly cooked. When soft, drain thoroughly and leave to cool.
- Place a clean tea towel on the surface you are working on. Dip singly sheets of Banh Trang into warm water and place on the tea towel. They should be pliable and soft.
- Place some cold vermicelli, some shrimps, chicken, pork, pickled onion, gherkin and carrot near the centre of the Banh Trang but towards the bottom edge. Spread the filling out to a sausage shape.
- Roll the bottom edge of the Banh Trang up and tuck tightly under the mixture. Fold the left and right sides into centre and then continue rolling away from you. This roll will be transparent and allow you to see the mixture inside. Continue until the mixture is used up.
- Place the cold, rolled, transparent spring rolls on a platter.
- Guests help themselves to lettuce leaves, one at a time. The roll is placed on the leaf and some mint and coriander are added. The whole is rolled up and dipped in the dipping sauce.

 

To serve

     


1
1 sprig
1 sprig

Webb or round lettuce
Coriander leaves
Mint leaves
Dipping sauce

 


8) CANH CA (FISH SOUP)



The most basic daily meal for a Vietnamese layperson would have

     

- Com (Boiled Rice)
- Canh (Soup)
- Thit kho (Cooked Meat) or Ca Kho (Cooked Fish)

 

Canh is a general name for vegetable soup. The soup can be cooked with or without meat or fish. Depending on personal taste, canh can be served on its own, with boiled rice (most commonly) or with different types of noodle (pho, bun, mien). The recipe bellow for Sour Fish Head Soup - (Canh Chua Dau Ca) is just an example of 'canh'

Ingredients

     

Stephen Ceideburg
2 Scallions, white part only, crushed with the side of a knife
Sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper
2 ts Salt
2 tb Plus 4 teaspoons fish sauce (nuoc mam)
1 lg Fish head or fish carcass, split down the center
1 qt Water
1/2 c Canned sliced sour bamboo
1/4 Fresh pineapple, cut in a lengthwise section and sliced
1 d MSG (optional)
2 tb Mixed chopped fresh coriander (Chinese parsley) and green scallions

 

To prepare

As an excellent way to get twice the pleasure out of your fish purchase, you can use either the fish head or the fish carcass if you wish. To the people of South Viet Nam, this is as much their traditional dish as Southern Fried Chicken is to our southerners--and it will meet with instant praise.

Sprinkle the scallions, black pepper, 1 teaspoon salt, and 4 teaspoons fish sauce over the fish head. Allow to stand for 10 to 15 minutes.
Bring 1 quart of water to a boil and drop in the sour bamboo and pineapple slices. Cook at a lively boil for 5 minutes. Drop fish head into the actively boiling water and, keeping at a boil, add the 2 tablespoons fish sauce, remaining teaspoon salt, and a dash of MSG. Boil the fish head for a total of 10 minutes. Transfer to a soup tureen, sprinkle on the coriander and scallion green, and serve.

Note: If the fish head is dropped into water that is not boiling, it will fall apart.



9) BRAISED MEAT (THIT KHO)




Ingredients

     

100 g
125 ml
4 tablespoons
2 cloves
1 teaspoon
500 g
4
Handful

Light muscovado sugar
Vietnamese fish sauce
Shallots, chopped
Garlic, chopped
Pepper
Boneless pork lion, thinly sliced
Hard boiled eggs, shelled and halved
Chinese chive flowers, for garnishing

To prepare

     

- Heat the sugar in a small casserole over a low heat until it is melted, stirring constantly.
- Slowly add the fish sauce and keep stirring vigorously until it is all amalgamated.
- Add the shallots, garlic, pepper and pork slices to the caramel, cover and simmer over a low heat for about 30 minutes, giving it an occasional stir around.
- To serve, arrange the sliced pork on a warmed platter with the eggs and pour over the sauce, covering the eggs as well as the pork.
- Garnish with Chinese chive flowers and serve a dish of rice on the side.

 

 

10) RAU MUONG XAO (STIR-FRIED WATER SPINACH)

Rau muong has no English translation but is sometimes referred to as water spinach. It is considered the national vegetable of Vietnam. It resembles green frisee and has a mild spinach taste.

Ingredients

     

500 g
2 bunches
1 tablespoon
3 cloves
2 tablespoons Spinach. shredded
Watercress, torn
Oil
Garlic, crushed and finely chopped
Nuoc cham sauce

 

To prepare

     

- Boil some water in a large saucepan and throw in the spinach and watercress.
- Stir to ensure that all the leaves are cooking equally.
- The vegetable will wilt, shrink and turn a vivid green in about 3 minutes.
- Drain and rinse under cold water to prevent further cooking.
- Then squeeze as much water out of the leaves as you can.
- Heat the oil in a wok, add the garlic and stir fry until it is just beginning to turn golden.
- Throw in the spinach and watercress leaves.
- Stir fry with the garlic until all the leaves are coated with oil and garlic and warmed through.
- This will take about 2 -3 minutes.
- Splash in the nuoc cham sauce, mix thoroughly and serve.