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Vietnamese Cuisine and Recipes

Vietnamese Recipes and cooking

Cooking by Country - March 2003


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Go to:-  Vietnam Featured Ingredient  |  Vietnam Speciality Dish  |  Cooking by Country Main Page





Stretching 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 Vietnamese Cooking


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.


In 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.


The 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.


In 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!




Current Day Vietnamese Cuisine



Today, 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.


Whilst 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.  The use of  mint, coriander, lemon grass, fish sauce,  ginger,  garlic,  sugar, and  onions help to create the distinct flavour of Vietnamese food.


As 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.




Click here for lots of Vietnamese Recipes


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