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Vietnamese Street Food

Posted on February 19, 2014 by thaonguyen in Vietnam Food tagged vietnam, cooking class

You’re touring Vietnam, and you’re hungry. You’ve heard about the street food, but you don’t really know where to start. It’s easy! There are so many culinary delights to be experienced that it’s hard to narrow it down, but there are nine items that are on the absolute “must try” list.

Sticky Rice

Everyone has heard of sticky rice, but most people don’t know that there are two types – southern and northern. Northern sticky rice usually consists of corn cooked in with the rice, fried shallots, and a bit of sugar to serve as a taste enhancer. Southern sticky rice is usually a bit more salty, and may contain green onions, dried shrimp, savory sausage and soy sauce. Vietnamese people usually consider sticky rice to be a breakfast dish, but it’s great any time of day!

Beef Noodles

You may know this as “pho.” Next to sticky rice, it’s probably the best-known Vietnamese street food. It’s simple and delicious, consisting of nothing more than beef and noodles in a soup base. It’s similar to what we know as ramen noodles, but the street food has a pop of flavor that you’re just never going to experience in a commercial product.

Rice Noodles

Rice noodles are exactly that – noodles made of rice instead of ordinary flour. They can be served like beef noodles, with soup, or without. In fact, there are so many variations on the rice noodle theme that it might be impossible to experience them all. Try rice noodles with grilled pork for a taste sensation you’ll never forget!

Broken Rice

The rice itself isn’t broken, it’s just that it’s “broken up” by other ingredients. Broken rice could contain egg, chicken or pork, and might be topped with fried green onions. It’s usually seasoned with fish sauce so that it’s a bit salty, and at the same time somewhat sweet.

Big Noodles

By now, you’re probably getting the point that noodles are a staple in Vietnamese street cooking. Often combined with crab or pork knuckle, big noodles are commonly served for breakfast or as a snack. Add a dash of lime juice, and let your taste buds rejoice!

Yellow Noodles

More noodles! These noodles are cooked al dente, in soup. They’re usually served with pork, seafood, or chicken. For a full meal, you might want to have them with a bit of each.

Saigon Baguette

This is a sandwich made from crunchy bread, usually filled with ham, pork, or liver pate. It gets its zip from picled vegetables like green onions, white radish, carrot and cucumber, and may include chili spices or coriander.

Spring Rolls

You’re probably familiar with Chinese spring rolls, but they’re raised to a whole new level when cooked in the Vietnamese style. It’s a simple filling rolled up in rice paper, but very flavorful. Usually the filling consists of rice noodles along with finely chopped vegetables and some type of meat or seafood. You dip them in a condiment made of chopped peanuts in soy sauce. Delicious!

Papaya Salad

Are you feeling adventurous? This dish could contain something you’ve never tried before. Although it can contain the common beef liver, papaya salad frequently contains organ meats like lung. Give it a chance – it’s an incredible authentic Vietnamese food experience. The lung is combined with shredded papaya, peanuts, shrimp crackers and herbs in a sweet and sour sauce. Most vendors won’t tell you what’s in the sauce – it’s a secret!

Congratulations, you’ve passed Vietnamese Street Food – now hit the street, and enjoy!




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