Vietnamese food is probably one of the healthiest cuisine in the world. The Vietnamese love fish, seafood and vegetables. If they do eat meat they are often grilled and eaten wrapped in lettuce leaves with mint and basil. It seems most food is wrapped in these herbs and dipped in sauce. Often times a meal is ended with fresh fruits. No wonder the Vietnamese women are so skinny and there are hardly any obese people in Vietnam!
Once a French colony and part of Indochina, the French influence is reflected in their cooking methods and their love for baguette, pate and French pastries. Vietnamese food is a fusion of French techniques and locally available ingredients.
Being a foodie here is a list of food and drinks one must try while in Vietnam:
1. Pho (noodle soup) – a rice noodle soup with thinly sliced meat. During our cooking demo we learned that the secret to the stock is blanched beef bones and for spices cinnamon bark, cardamom, star anise and cloves.
Ingredients to making Pho
3. Vietnamese drip coffee with condensed milk (hot or iced) – the Vietnamese savor and take their coffee seriously. I am not a die hard coffee drinker but when our local guide taught me the art of preparing Vietnamese coffee I immediately became hooked. During our stay I had as much as four to five cups a day. I recommend Highlands coffee chain for beginners.
4. Vietnamese Baguette – it is said that the Vietnamese baguette’s recipe is a national secret. The bread’s crust is so crunchy on the outside yet so soft and creamy inside. It can stay crisp for three days. A bread stand is found in almost every corner of Saigon. A foodies’ simple pleasure….bread so wonderfully baked!
5. Bahn Mi Sandwich – Vietnamese baguette with pate spread or home made mayonnaise, ham or cold cuts, grilled sliced pork or chicken. What makes it unique is it is topped with pickled vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, radish, with wansoy (coriander leaves) and chili peppers. Also found in carts in every corner but I think Nhu Lan has the best Bahn Mi in Saigon …can’t leave without trying this!
6. Street food at the Ben Thanh Market night market – absolutely no sanitation standards but the food is so good!!!