Vietnamese Cuisine and Recipes
Vietnamese Recipes and cooking
by Country - March 2003
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from the Red River and Hanoi in the north to the Mekong Delta and Ho Chi Minh
City (Saigon) in the South, Vietnam is a long narrow country in Asia with a
3,444km/2,135 mile coastline along the South China Sea.
Ancient Times, Influences and History of
By the 1st millennia BC, the area that is now Northern Vietnam had already
evolved a rice-based culture and it is imaginable that with the Red River dissecting
the region and the sea in such close proximity, fish and seafood
were also part of the diet.
208 BC the Chinese invaded the northern territory and dominated the
culture for 1000 years. They introduced much of their culinary practices, such
as noodle based dishes, stir-frying the use of chopsticks and woks. It's
interesting to note however, that despite this long Chinese occupation, the
Vietnamese always considered themselves as a distinct people, and on several occasions,
fought to evict the Chinese. It wasn't until the mid 10th century AD that they
managed to do so and restore Vietnamese independence but in all this time, their
desire to hold on to their identity was reflected in their cuisine.
Vietnamese empire spread to Angkor, later to become Cambodia, and by the 15th
Century, both Vietnam and Thailand, sized territories from the
disintegrating Angkor state. By 1700, all of the Mekong River Delta was in
Vietnamese hands and had spread to to the region which was controlled by an
Indianised trading state known as Champa. This is undoubtedly where the
Vietnamese curry was born, albeit not as fiery as those found in other parts of
India, but definitely curry.
1859, the French colonised Vietnam. They remained for 100 years and also had a
profound influence on Vietnamese cooking, introducing, amongst other things, the
technique of sautéing, the use of bones to make stock, the use of white
potatoes and even the French baguette!
Day Vietnamese Cuisine
Vietnamese cuisine balances all the above influences in a way that creates
a unique blend of tastes and texture, not to be found elsewhere in Asia.
there are still regional differences, rice remains a staple in
the Vietnamese diet however, noodles are now just as popular particularly
in the North. The fertile Mekong Delta produces a wide range of
fruit and vegetables and that long coastline ensures that fish and seafood are
still central to the diet. Other meats such as pork, beef, and
chicken are also consumed, but in much smaller quantities.
use of mint, coriander, lemon grass, fish sauce, ginger,
garlic, sugar, and onions help to create the distinct flavour of
in many of the neighbouring countries, most meals are not divided into courses:
all the dishes are served at the same time. Rice or noodles are always
served plus a soup and 1 or 2 main dishes.
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