We all know the Vietnamese spring roll or fresh spring roll (summer roll). Wafer-thin rice noodles with julienne-cut vegetables rolled in a rice sheet or covered in a crispy jacket. A tasty snack that you dip in a sweet or spicy sauce. Also pho, the Vietnamese noodle soup probably rings a bell. But what is typical Vietnamese cuisine? Which basic ingredients are used in Vietnamese dishes? Can you also cook vegan Vietnamese?
Dishes with fresh vegetables are typical in Vietnamese cuisine. The vegetables are briefly boiled or fried, then marinated with light sauces and served with rice or noodles. Because the minimal stir frying and the many vegetables, Vietnamese cuisine is seen as the healthiest of the Asian cuisines.
A lot of rice is eaten in Vietnamese dishes. So rice really is a Vietnamese stunner. But a less predictable ingredient in Vietnamese cuisine is the French baguette. This is also eaten with vegetables and meat in, for example, bahn-mi. In terms of taste, Vietnamese dishes are more subtle than, for example, dishes from Chinese cuisine. Vietnamese food is also often less salty than Chinese food. Vietnamese marinades sometimes have a fishy taste. A taste that is of course characteristic and immediately gives character to what you prepare.
Vegan and Vietnamese food don’t necessarily go hand in hand. Although vegetables form the base of Vietnamese dishes, many are also combined with fish and meat. From pig to catfish. Fortunately for vegans, Vietnamese dishes can be made vegan with simple tweaks. For example, you can make the Vietnamese pho plant-based by replacing the chicken (pen broth) with mushrooms (broth). Among the mushroom family, shiitake is particularly ideal due to its savory and meaty structure and taste. This mushroom is therefore more often used in Asian dishes in well-known noodle and rice dishes.
Vietnamese meals often include raw salads and fresh herb leaves. These are full of fibres, minerals and vitamins and are therefore ideal as a basis for delicious plant-based Vietnamese food. If you eat like in Vietnam, your pho will taste slightly different every time. This way you can flavour your soup with the desired amount of lime, hoison, peppers to taste and fresh herb leaves that give your pho a unique taste.
Is Vietnamese cuisine something for you? Try it out with one of our recipes below.