Using Herbs and Spices

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and Vegetables

Consumption of fruits and vegetables varies according to location and income. Wild fruits are abundant and used green or ripened. These include mangoes and bananas as well as coconuts and a range of common tropical fruits. Pineapples are enjoyed in season and by those who can afford this cultivated fruit. Both fruits and vegetables may be mixed in different dishes containing meats or fish. Often fruits may be used and seasoned in the same way as vegetables; for example, green slices of papaya are eaten with a mixture of salt and chili peppers and a sprinkle of vinegar.

All leafy green vegetables, onions, scallions, garlic, as well as many varieties of mushrooms, radishes, and cabbages are enjoyed. Perhaps the only category of vegetables not a part of the Vietnamese diet are the roots and tubers such as yams and cassava.

Together with the general Vietnamese disdain of fatty or greasy foods goes the predilection for quantities of fragrant fresh herbs such as mint, dill, coriander, various sprouts, basil, and green onions. These are taken as generous garnishes to many dishes including pho, the Vietnamese noodle dish that is really a meal. Popular too are little bundles of mixed fresh herbs wrapped in rice paper or lettuce and dipped in Nuoc mam or nuoc cham then into a small dish of crushed roasted peanuts before nibbling. Fresh dill and green spring onions are a special accompaniment to fish dishes.

Fruits may be used in their green state in cooked dishes to impart a sour tang and enliven other flavors, or enjoyed for their own taste. Other fruits may be served fresh as dessert. Most vegetables are served raw, steamed, boiled, or stir-fried.

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