Vietnamâ€™s most famous dish: translucent spring rolls packed with greens, coriander and various combinations of minced pork, shrimp or crab. In some places theyâ€™re served with a bowl of lettuce and/or mint. A southern variation has barbecued strips of pork wrapped up with green banana and star fruit, and then dunked in a rich peanut sauce â€“ every bit as tasty as it sounds.
This baguette sandwich filled with greens and a choice of fillings, including patÃ© and freshly made omelette, is so good itâ€™s been imitated around the world.
These enormous, cheap and filling Vietnamese pancakes translate (banh xeo means â€œsizzling pancakeâ€) pancake contain shrimp, pork, bean sprouts and egg, which is then fried, wrapped in rice paper with greens and dunked in a spicy sauce before eaten.
A Hanoi specialty, youâ€™ll find bun cha at food stalls and street kitchens across the city. Essentially a small hamburger, the pork patties are barbecued on an open charcoal brazier and served on a bed of cold rice noodles with assorted foliage and a slightly sweetish sauce.
Vietnamâ€™s national dish a the countryâ€™s great staple is pho (pronounced â€œfurâ€), a noodle soup eaten at any time of day but primarily at breakfast. The basic bowl of pho consists of a light beef or chicken broth flavoured with ginger and coriander, to which are added broad, flat rice noodles, spring onions and slivers of chicken, pork or beef.
CentralÂ Vietnam does it best.Â Among Hoi Anâ€™s tasty specialities is cao lau, a mouthwateringÂ bowlful of thick rice-flour noodles, bean sprouts and pork-rind croutons in a light soup flavouredÂ with mint and star anise, topped with thin slices of pork and served with grilled rice-flour crackersÂ or sprinkled with crispy rice paper.
Seafood dishes are among the standouts of Vietnamese cuisine. Cha ca, reportedly devised in Hanoi, is perhaps the best known. It sees white fish sautÃ©ed in butter with dill and spring onions, then served with rice noodles and a scatering of peanuts.
This unheralded and affordable noodle dish is a Hanoi specialty. Ingredients vary by establishment, but expect to see a simple bowl of meat noodles enlivened by additions like flavoursome oils, fresh sprigs of leaves, shrimp, peanuts, mint and quail eggs.
Nom hua chuoi
Vegetarians rejoice. Nom hua chuoi, or banana-flower salad, is a great meat-free option.â€¨Lime and chili are the key flavors and add a refreshing punch to the shredded veg.
Com tam, â€œbroken riceâ€, is a street-stand favourite. Recipes vary, but youâ€™ll often find it served with barbecued pork or beef and a fried egg.