The resurgence of Vietnam as a tourist destination has had a big impact in the country over recent decades, but one of the wonderful side effects is that there are a growing number of people who are learning about the wonderful Vietnamese cuisine. These dishes are widely considered to be among the healthiest in the world, while each dish is usually carefully prepared with a range of flavors and spices. Like many countries in South East Asia, rice plays a big role in most meals in Vietnam, with a large pot of steamed white rice usually surrounded with a variety of other sauces, relishes, soups and dips on the dinner table.

Influences And The Five Flavor Philosophy

Vietnamese cuisine has taken several influences from surrounding countries, but one of the most important aspects is that the vast majority of dishes are only lightly cooked, with the emphasis placed on fresh and tasty ingredients. One philosophy that is seen in the variety of spices used is that most meals will try and balance the sour, bitter, sweet, spicy and salty flavors. This idea of including five aspects to the meal also spreads to other aspects of the dishes, with top chefs looking to create meals with five colors and all five types of nutrients included in the meal.

Spices And Fish Sauce In Vietnamese Cuisine

With a climate that is perfect for growing spices, it is no surprise that the majority of Vietnamese dishes do tend to have a spicy sauce or dips which are then balanced by other parts of the meal that are cooler. For those who are not too keen on spicy food, then the cuisine of Northern Vietnam tends to be a little less spicy, as the cooler climate is not quite so welcoming to the spices that are abundant in Central and Southern Vietnam. Fish sauce plays an important role in almost every Vietnamese meal, which is used for dipping, and is sometimes supplemented with chilli, ginger and lime juice.

Typical Vietnamese Dishes

One of the staples of Vietnamese cuisine is noodle soup, with many making good use of the seafood that is found around the coastal region, including Bun Rieu, which includes crab meat and is flavored with shrimp paste in a tomato based sauce. Nem Cuon are among Vietnam's most successful export, as they are small spring rolls that have a cooked filling that is wrapped in rice paper, with a mix of pork or fish with vegetables. Ca Ri Ga is a type of curry that is popular in the south and central parts of the country, and is made with chicken and vegetables in a coconut based sauce, usually served with rice, or a French style baguette.

Desserts And Drinks

Desserts in Vietnam tend to show off the French colonial influence in the country, with the Banh Flan being a custard based dessert usually served with coffee or caramel sauce. Sinh To is also a refreshing dessert, where condensed milk is combined with ice and fresh fruit to make a wonderful smoothie, with mango, passionfruit and durian flavors among the most popular. Jasmine Tea is one of the most popular drinks in Vietnam, while those looking for something with a bit more of a kick can enjoy bia hoi, which is a type of draft beer, while Ruou De is a distilled rice liquor.