Looking for a healthy alternative to deep-fried fish? This Vietnamese pan-fried fish with turmeric and lemongrass is easy to make, has a crispy bite, and is more flavorful than your average fish fry! To make things easy, you do not need to have fresh fish …
Vietnamese recipes have the perfect balance of flavors and cooking techniques that will keep you coming back for more. You have probably heard and tasted the classic street food recipes like pho and banh mi, Vietnamese cuisine boasts many more flavors and palettes that are worth discovering!
INTRODUCTION TO VIETNAMESE FLAVORS
Vietnamese food is known for using fresh herbs like cilantro, lemongrass, Thai basil, mint, cardamom, and cinnamon. Other flavors you’ll taste are the bird’s eye chili or Thai chili for heat, lime for a sour, acidic punch, and fish sauce, a salty staple. The common proteins that are served are fish and seafood due to the long coastline, as well as beef, chicken, and pork. Vietnamese cuisine is low in sugar, incorporates little to no dairy products in most dishes, and is almost always naturally gluten-free because of the main focus on rice. This combination of healthy proteins, fresh vegetables and herbs, and low sugar/oil content make Vietnamese food one of the healthiest cuisines worldwide.
REGIONAL DIFFERENCES IN VIETNAMESE CUISINE
Vietnam spans a length of over 1,000 miles north to south, which means there are slight variations in cuisine from region to region. The North, Central and South regions use the same main ingredients, but the dishes will vary place to place.
The northern region which encompasses Hanoi to Sa Pa, has a colder climate and also shares a border with China. Stir-frys and noodle-based soups are very popular within this region. Signature dishes include bún riêu (rice vermicelli soup with meat), bánh cuốn (steamed rice rolls), and bún chả (rice noodle with grilled marinated pork).
The central region is characterized by mountain ranges and the rich cultural history of Huế. Known as the Imperial City from the last royal dynasty, this region is known for its bold and spicy flavors, small portions, and multi-course meals. Popular dishes you’ll see are cao lầu (rice noodle with barbeque pork and leafy greens), banh bao vac (white rose dumplings), and bun bo hue (spicy beef soup with vermicelli noodles).
Southern Vietnam has a very warm climate and has great soil for growing tropical fruits and vegetables. Food found here is typically sweeter from incorporating ingredients like coconut milk and sugar cane. Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) has culinary roots from the French colonization, making banh mi, a Vietnamese baguette sandwich, one of the most well-known dishes.