3 Ingredients That Give Vietnamese Food Unforgettable Flavors
Whether you regularly dine on Pho or have never set foot in a Vietnamese restaurant, you may be curious to know what ingredients make Vietnamese food unique. While Vietnamese food is similar to many Southeast Asian cuisines, based on rice and noodles, there are a few aspects of Vietnamese cuisine that blend together to make a classic Vietnamese taste. If you are looking for a good Vietnamese restaurant, you can expect them to liberally use the following three ingredients.
Fish sauce is made by allowing fish, salt, and water to ferment in a barrel for several months. It has a very strong smell and a complex flavor that borders on nutty. It is used in the base of almost every Vietnamese dish and, usually, a bottle of fish sauce is left on the table if you want to add more of its unique flavor yourself.
If you are put off by the idea of fish sauce, which some people unfamiliar with Southeast Asian cuisine are, you should try a dish cooked with it instead of tasting it from the bottle. Usually, a soup or a noodle stir fry has a light amount that will allow you to sample the flavor without overwhelming your senses.
Most Vietnamese soups are based on slow-cooked broths, generally made from bones and scraps of meat. This slow-simmered broth not only gives you a flavorful base for a variety of soups, but it also has many health benefits, making it a perfect option when you are feeling sick. Many soups are made by simply adding extra ingredients to a boiling bone broth. For example, traditional Pho is served by adding your choice of raw meat and vegetables to the broth, and it cooks on its way to your table.
The Vietnamese kitchen relies heavily on fresh herbs with cool flavors. This mostly includes many varieties of mint, basil, dill, and lemongrass. These cool flavors temper the saltiness of most dishes and also blend well with spicy sauces and peppers that are added to some dishes.
The flavor of Vietnamese food rests on the blending of these main ingredients with other supplemental ingredients such as rice, noodles, meat, and sea food. Most dishes include contrasting flavors such as cool and spicy, or sweet and salty. When you experience Vietnamese food from a restaurant like A Taste Of Saigon, you should take a second to savor the dish and count how many separate flavors you can experience in each bite of your food.