Vietnamese Food Beyond Pho
While pho might be the first thing that comes to mind when many think of Vietnamese cuisine, the ultra-comforting noodle soup is just one of the country’s delicious dishes. Characterized by fragrant herbs, super-fresh fruits and vegetables, and balanced uses of shrimp paste, fish sauce and soy, Vietnam’s cuisine is known to be zesty and healthy.
Many Vietnamese dishes are influenced by the cuisines of China, Cambodia and Thailand, the country’s neighbors; and France, due to more than six decades of French colonization.
Southern Vietnam’s tropical climate supports greater use of fresh fruits and vegetables and sweeter, bolder flavors, while northern Vietnam’s dishes include more seafood, including crab, prawns, freshwater fish, squid and mussels.
Like many other Asian cuisines, typical meals are served community style — multiple dishes shared in the middle of the table with a large pot of rice. Dipping sauces are also common additions. One of the most common sauces at U.S. Vietnamese restaurants feature fish sauce prepared with garlic, chili paste or lime juice; it is an excellent complement to fried spring rolls, rice noodles with grilled pork or beef and fresh vegetables and herbs (often served as a side to meals).
Favorite Vietnamese dishes include bánh mì, a crusty French baguette filled with cold cuts, such as sliced pork or pork belly and sausage, liver pâté and perfectly pickled carrots or cucumbers; bánh xèo, a savory crepe-like pancake stuffed with bean sprouts and a meaty filling like pork or shrimp; and Gỏi cuốn, rice-paper rolls wrapped around a variety of fillings, such as shrimp, herbs, pork, rice vermicelli noodles, and dipped in peanut sauce.