Culture & Lifestyle > Cuisine

Vietnamese cuisine is a style of cooking derived from the nation of Vietnam; fish sauce, soy sauce, rice, fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables are commonly used. Vietnamese recipes use a diverse range of herbs, including lemongrass, mint, Vietnamese mint, long coriander and Thai basil leaves.

The Vietnamese also have a number of vegetarian dishes, influenced by Buddhist beliefs. The most common meats used in Vietnamese cuisine are pork, chicken, shrimp, and various kinds of seafood. Beef is used less commonly, save for pho, bun bo Hue, thit bo xao rau muong, canh bo xao. Duck and goat are used.

Philosophical influences on Vietnamese cuisine

  • Duck meat is considered as "cool" so is served in summer which are hot and dip with ginger fishsauce which is "warm", while chicken which is "warm" and pork which is "hot" are used in cold winters.

  • Seafood ranging from "cool" to "cold" are suitable to use with ginger which is "warm".

  • Spicy which is extremely yang must be harmonized by sour which is extremely yin.

  • Balut which is "cold" must be combined with Vietnamese mint which is hot.

  • Cold and flu patients must drink ginger water which is hot.
Five element correspondence

Vietnamese cuisine is influenced by the Asian principle of five elements.
Many Vietnamese dishes include five spices: spicy (metal), sour (wood), bitter (fire), salty (water) and sweet (Earth), corresponding to: five zang fus (Vietnamese: ngũ tạng): gall bladder, small intestine, large intestine, stomach and urinary bladder.

Vietnamese dishes also include five types of nutrients (Vietnamese: ngũ chất): powder, water or liquid, mineral elements, protein and fat. Vietnamese cooks try to have five colours (Vietnamese: ngũ sắc): white (metal), green (wood), yellow (Earth), red (fire) and black (water) in their dishes.

Dishes in Vietnam appeal to gastronomes via five senses (Vietnamese: năm giác quan): food arrangement attracts eyes, sounds come from crisp ingredients, five spices detected on the tongue, aromatic ingredients coming mainly from herbs stimulate the nose and some meals, especially finger food, can be perceived by touching.

Goi Cuon (Summer Roll)

A summer roll (literally "mix salad rolled") is a Vietnamese food consisting of pork, shrimp, herbs, bún (rice vermicelli), and other ingredients wrapped in rice paper. Vietnamese Spring / Summer rolls are served cold, and are not fried. When consuming the roll, it is dipped in the sauce by hand. This is the only known method in Vietnam. Each bite usually has 3-4 teaspoons of sauce.

Since the late 20th century, summer rolls have become a popular food item in Western culture. Summer rolls are now a regular part of many fast food outlets in the United States and Australia; while the ingredients have changed slightly to better suit Western tastes, the basics are still the same.  (Recipe)

Pho (Beef Noodle)

Pho (pronounced “phir” in English) is influenced by the Chinese and French cuisines, and was believed to have originally derived from a French soup, “pot au feu”,(pot on fire) which is a type of beef stew. This is usually a mixture of cuts of beef, vegetable, and spice.
Pho had its humble beginnings nearly 100 years ago, and at that time was basically boiled beef, broth and noodles. It has since evolved into much more than that. During the war in Viet Nam, when beef became scarce, a pork version (pho lon) evolved.
The combination of both French and Chinese occupation has led to a diverse, unique cuisine that is admired by many. (Recipe)

Banh Mi (Bread)

Vietnamese baguette or French bread containing paté, Vietnamese mayonnaise, different selections of Vietnamese cold cuts (of which there is a large variety, most commonly ham, head cheese, and a Vietnamese bologna), pickled daikon, pickled carrot, and cucumber slices. The sandwich is often garnished with coriander and black pepper. This food is common everywhere in Vietnam as a favorite of factory workers and students, and eaten for any meal of the day, commonly breakfast and lunch. There are a wide variety of banh mi. (Recipe)

Banh Xeo (Pan Cake)

Vietnamese crepe made out of rice flour with tumeric, shrimps with shells on, slivers of fatty pork, sliced onions, and sometimes button mushrooms, fried in one or two teaspoons of oil, usually coconut oil, which is the most popular oil used in Vietnam. It is eaten with lettuce and various local herbs and dipped in Nước chấm or sweet fermented peanut butter sauce. Rice papers are sometimes used as wrappers to contain banh xeo and the accompanying vegetables. (Recipe)

Cha Gio (Spring Roll)

The main structure of a roll of chả giò is commonly seasoned ground meat, mushrooms, and diced vegetables such as carrots and jicama, rolled up in a sheet of moist rice paper. The roll is then deep fried until the rice paper coat turns crispy and golden brown.
The ingredients, however, are not fixed. The most commonly used meat is pork, but one can also use crab, shrimp, sometimes snails (in northern Vietnam), and tofu (for vegan chả giò). If diced carrots and jicama are used, the stuffing inside the rolls are a little bit crunchy, and match well with the crispy fried rice paper, but the juice from these vegetables can cause the rolls to soften after a short time. To keep the rolls crispy for a long time, mashed sweet potato or mung beans may be used instead. One may also include bean sprouts and rice vermicelli in the stuffing mix, although this is a rare practice. Eggs and various spices can be added to one’s preference. Sometimes, the ingredients can include julienned taro root and carrots if jicama cannot be found. Taro roots give it a fatty and crunchy taste.
Chả giò can be eaten by itself, wrapped in lettuce, dipped into nước chấm (fish sauce mixed with lemon juice, sugar, and chili pepper), or served with rice vermicelli (in bún chả giò). (Recipe)


Chè is a sweet dessert or pudding usually made from beans and sticky rice. Many varieties of chè are available, each with different fruits, beans (for example, mung beans or kidney beans), and other ingredients. Some varieties, such as chè xôi nước, may also include dumplings. Chè can be served cold, cool or hot.

Chè are often prepared with one of a number of varieties of beans and/or glutinous rice, cooked in water and sweetened with sugar. Other ingredients may include tapioca starch, salt, and pandan leaf extract. Each variety of chè is designated by a descriptive word or phrase that follows the word chè, such as chè đậu đỏ (literally “red bean chè”). In southern Vietnam, chè are often garnished with coconut milk. Chè may be made at home, but are also commonly available freshly made in plastic containers, in Vietnamese grocery stores in Vietnam as well as overseas.

Cafe (Coffee)

Strong iced coffee, most often served with sweetened condensed milk at the bottom of the cup to be stirred in. A Vietnamese favorite. Must go with the dripping tool to reserve the true taste.


Salads Gỏi is Vietnamese salad. Many varieties with the most popular including:

Vietnamese Description Gỏi đu đủ Vietnamese papaya salad typically with shredded papaya, herbs, various meats such as shrimp, slices of pork, liver, or meat jerky, herbs, and with a more vinegar-based rendition of nước chấm
Gỏi ngó sen lotus stem salad, with shrimp and pork or chicken. Goi Ga Chicken and Cabbage salad.