Using Herbs and Spices

Vietnamese Recipes & Cuisines

Vietnamese Food Terms

Ban Cuon : a variation on the Chinese Dim Sum (steamed filled dumplings), where only the dough is steamed then filled. The dough is made into a ball from rice flour and water then rubbed over a cheesecloth tautly stretched over a pot of boiling water. As the steam cooks the 'wrapper', it is pulled off, rolled up with a minced filling of pork, shrimp, mushrooms and onions then dipped in hot sauce before being eaten. Commonly made and served by street vendors or at market stalls.

Banh Hoi Nem Chua : cooked rice noodles served with raw pork.

Banh Hoi Tom : cooked rice noodles served with lobster.

Banh Trang : rice-paper wrappers made from rice flour, water and salt. These are moistened in warm water then quickly filled to be fried, or used uncooked as wrappers for slivers of meat or fish and fresh herbs. Usually dipping sauces are provided for the diners.

Ca-Kho : raw fish.

Ca Ran Chua Ngot : a special main dish of quickly fried whole fish served with a delicate sweet and sour sauce touched lightly with chilies and onions, nuoc mam, vinegar, and sugar. The stir-fried slivered tiger lily buds, mushrooms and scallions form the garnish.

Cha Gio : the general name for wrapped tidbits of fish, seafood, vegetables, which are eaten as is after being dipped in various sauces or which may be deep-fried in their wrappers (as when using rice-paper wrappers). The finger-sized rolls may be served as appetizers or as art of a meal.

Hu-Tien : a borth with noodles often served as a hot satisfying breakfast dish.

Mang Tay Nau Cua : soup based on chicken stock with crab meat and asparagus and mushroom pieces. The soup is thickened with cornstarch and served garnished with slivers of scallions and crumbled hard egg yolk.

Micha Trong Kroeuny : strips of plaice fillets dusted with rice flour and briefly browned in fat then lightly cooked in a spicy sauce of garlic, scallions, chilies, and Nuoc Mam.

Mien Ga : light, flavorful chicken broth (fat-free), served with cellophane noodles and thinly slivered scallions to garnish.

Mut : a sticky sweet candy that can be prepared from fruits, vegetables, or seeds cooked in syrup until translucent.

Nonhchon : the short grain rice preferred by the South Vietnamese.

Nems : deep-fried pastry-wrapped delicacies very similar to Chinese egg rolls and eaten after being dipped into Nuoc Man or Nuoc Cham.

Nuoc Cham : to the basic Nuoc Mam the cook adds chilies, black pepper, cayenne, scallions, onions, garlic to taste in order to produce a fiery hot sauce, Nuoc Cham to the diner's liking.

Nuoc Leo : a peanut dipping sauce made by mixing Nuoc Mam with chicken broth and Hoisin Sauce then garnishing with slivers of chilies, garlic and crushed roasted peanuts.

Nuoc Mam : the single most important sauce of Vietnamese cuisine. It is prepared (mostly commercially) by layering fish and salt in barrels and allowing them to ferment. The first liquid that oozes off naturally is considered to be of high quality. The liquid that results after pressing the fermented mixture is stronger in color, flavor and odor and is considered to be of lower quality. This sauce is as common as salt and pepper is to the western table. No dish is complete without at least a little Nuoc Mam, but each dier adds more, according to taste.

Pho : the only Vietnamese dish that is served in individual portions. All other dishes are served in dishes to be shared at the table. Lengthy cooking and careful seasoning produces the beef or chicken broth that is poured over cooked noodles. The shredded meat of your choice is arranged on top. Each diner adds fresh green herbs, garlic and chilies. Sauces are served in tiny side dishes for dipping meat slivers with chopsticks. A porcelain soup spoon may be used to aid the delivery of slippery noodles to the mouth.

Tamthom : the long grain white rice preferred by the North Vietnamese.

Thit-Kho : pork. The preferred meat, eaten frequently by the upper class, often by the middle class, and almost never by the poorer class.

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