When people start talking about their favorite Asian cuisine, they will usually talk about Indian food or Thai or Korean food, and while each of these cuisines and countries does have many great dishes and their popularity is justified, what a lot of people end up doing is neglecting other great cuisines, and Vietnamese food makes it to the list of underrated Asian cuisine.
Yes, Pho happens to be famous and a lot of people do love it, but, it isn’t all of Vietnamese cuisine. Yes, dishes like Pho and Banh Mi can be considered to be the National dishes of Vietnam, but they aren’t everything, and a lot of people do not venture beyond them to discover other hidden culinary gems found in Vietnamese food.
Vietnamese food happens to be incredibly fragrant because of the abundance of fresh herbs in the food, and it is also incredibly light, healthy, and yet full-bodied. Vietnamese food has a delicate balance of every flavor and is deserving of a lot more love. Now, if you are new to the world of Vietnamese food, you can keep on reading the rest of this article because we are doing a rundown of commonly Vietnamese spices so that you know what you will most likely be getting the next time you want to order Vietnamese food.
Now before we start, it is important to remember that the use of these spices tends to vary regionally, so they are used differently and some are more preferred than others in different regions of the country.
- We will first talk about the commonly used spices that are derived from vegetables. As we mentioned before, Vietnamese food is incredibly fragrant and light, so their commonly used vegetable spices happen to include coriander, cilantro, basil, cumin, shallots, green onion, chili leaves, lime leaves and more. All of these are very fragrant vegetables, and each of them combines together beautifully for stocks and soups.
- If we refer to root vegetable-based spices, then you will find onion, garlic, turmeric, and ginger is the more commonly used spices.
- Fruit-based spices in Vietnamese cuisine usually includes cardamom, lemon, tamarind, chili, grapefruit, and pineapple.
- Coconut milk, powder, and mushrooms also happen to be a staple in Vietnamese food.
- Fermentation is also a huge part of the process of Vietnamese food, and you will find that fermented vinegar, especially white vinegar is heavily used in Vietnamese cuisine for their dishes, for dips, and for giving their salads a nice, sour touch.
- One more very important sauce that is the base of a lot of Vietnamese food happens to be fish sauce. Like the name suggests, the sauce is made from fish like mackerel, anchovy, and so on. It has a slightly pungent smell and taste, but it tends to blend well with other Vietnamese flavors giving a nice, umami undertone to whatever is being cooked.
You now have a basic idea of what usually goes into most Vietnamese dishes, so a combination of some of these spices will be necessary, and now that you understand this better, you can be more courageous with your order the next time.