Cooking & eating habits of the Vietnamese people

North, Central and South of Vietnam have unique way of eating and cooking, making great local food to taste and to know more about the culture of each region.

Vietnamese cuisine is rich and different at each region, reflecting the typical life stay of the local people. You can find it in the way of using spices, and in the habits of eating. Many tourists rated Vietnamese food that becomes the top food in the world. Now we will learn more about the culinary art of Vietnamese food.

Quang Noodle- Vietnamese food
Quang Noodle – Photo by Vietnamdrive

1. The process of cooking

Use mainly rice, vegetable, fish sauce, and herbs to cook.

Vietnamese culinary originates from the agriculture. The rice is commonly used in the menu of the Vietnamese people. Most of the dishes in Vietnam are made from rice, Vietnamese vegetables, and fruits. Thus, they are low in fat, and good for health.

When making food, the Vietnamese often use fish sauce to cook, combined with a lot of natural spices, so the dish is very delicious and fragrant. Especially, each dish has the difference of sauce to make the taste of the food more specific.

Vietnamese sauce
Different kinds of sauce to use for different Vietnamese dishes

Vietnamese dishes also include a variety of ingredients such as meat, shrimp, crab along with vegetables, beans, and rice. And, the fresh tastes of the food come from the process of cooking, mainly boiled or steamed, making the food keep rich vitamin and protein.

If you notice Vietnamese people often use a lot of spices such as ginger, turmeric, onion, garlic, citronella and the other Vietnamese herbs, creating the special flavor of the dishes.

The spices are used in a mutually harmonious way. This combination is also the way to neutralize the poison, creating good effect as the traditional medicine.

2. The habit of eating

Eat by chopsticks, and use many senses to taste the food.

Vietnamese meal
Vietnamese meal – Photo: @duc.hc

The Vietnamese eat not only “scientifically” but also eat “perfectly”. Eat perfectly is to eat with all five senses.

First of all, eating with your eyes: food has to be prepared beautifully and colourfully; and, eating with your nose: there are nice flavor of the food and the sauce.

Vietnamese people eat both “by ear“. It is interesting to hear the sound of food; finally, that is enjoying the food and taste with the tongue. All of those senses create the feelings of eaters when eating.

All dishes are ready to be prepared on the table. The whole family is gathering on the tray. The community is very clear in Vietnamese cuisine, whenever there is a cup of fish sauce in common or in small bowls. All people use the same cup of fish sauce, and eat a bowl of soup.

They use the chopsticks to take the food from the general dishes to their own bowl, or dip the food in the fish sauce dish.

Cultural sock: Sometimes, some of Vietnamese people pick the food to invite the others by their own chopsticks or spoons. This makes some foreigners feel dirty. To avoid this cultural sock, the guests can take the fish sauce to cover the piece of food which is invited, because the fish sauce can kill gems on the food.

The way of eating of Vietnamese is also emotional, and hospitable. Before eating, children must invite grandparents, parents, older people and guests. This thing reflects both courtesy and shows respect for the others.

>>> Please see more the cultural rules in Vietnamese meals.

3. The characteristics of cuisine in Vietnam

Pho Hanoi
Pho Hanoi – Photo: @huong_blue

Vietnamese people easily absorb the culinary culture of other ethnic groups, other regions from which to process their own. The difference in geographic, cultural, ethnic and climatic characteristics has formed specific characteristics of each region in Vietnam.

Northern cuisine is moderately flavored, not too intense but colorful, and mainly uses diluted fish sauce and shrimp sauce. Hanoi cuisine is considered as the culinary essence of the North with delicious dishes such as Pho – one of the tradtional noodles in Vietnam, Thanh Tri rolls and special spices such as tomatoes sauce, or Lang basil.

Check more culinary tours in Vietnam:
+ Flavor of Vietnam: Hanoi to Hoi An

Chicken Rice in Hoi An, Vietnam
Chicken Rice in Hoi An, Vietnam – Photo by Bao Huy

With the central region, the tastes are stronger. The characteristics are shown by the special taste. Many dishes are spicy and salty. Colors are rich, and vibrant. The central cuisine is famous for sour shrimp sauce, and salted fish. Especially, Hue cuisine is influenced by royal cuisine, so it is very careful in the way of processing, presenting with different colour and quantity of dishes.

Southern cuisine, due to the influences of Chinese, Cambodian and Thai cuisines, is a bit spicy. And especially there are wild foods that have become specialities such as mice cooked with coconut water, or snakes cooked green bean porridge.

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