Vietnamese Food Ingredients

With the heavy reliance on rice, wheat and legumes, abundance of fresh herbs and vegetables, minimal use of oil, and treatment of meat as a condiment rather than a main course, Vietnamese food has to be among the healthiest on the planet. Cuisine in Viet Nam, a country of 70,000,000 people differs strikingly between the north, south and central regions, but two key features stand out: First, rice plays an essential role in the nation's diet. But this is also a noodle-crazy population, regularly downing them for breakfast, lunch and dinner, mostly at restaurants and at roadside stands. Noodles are eaten wet and dry, in soup or beside soup, and are made in different shapes and thicknesses of wheat, rice and mung beans. Secondly, no meal is complete without fresh vegetable and herbs. The key dishes that are served together with rice at every family meal at home are a protein dish such as fish, meat or poultry; a vegetable dish and some sort of vegetable soup. The more lavish the spread, the wealthier the household. But even the poorer families are likely to have multiple dishes of simple vegetables. Due to its proximity to the border, north Vietnam reflects more Chinese influence than central or south. Soy sauce that rarely appears in Vietnamese dishes except in the north is replaced by what is perhaps the most important ingredient in all of Vietnamese cuisine -- fish sauce or nuoc mam. Stir frying plays a relatively minor role in Vietnam and once again is seen more in the north than elsewhere. Frying in general is less important than simmering and steaming. Northern cuisine exhibits fewer herbs and vegetables than the other regions because its climate is less hospitable than that of the Mekong Delta. For heat, north Vietnamese cooks rely on black pepper rather than chilies. Residents also exhibit a particular fondness for beef, picked up from the Mongolians during their 13th century invasions. Servings are larger and fewer in the south; curries and hot chilies replace black pepper for heat. The profusion of fruit in the area means that sweet fruit occasionally makes its way into a dish of meat and vegetables. Preparations are less complex than many of those in the center and the style of cooking often resembles that of neighboring Cambodia. In this page, I include some key Vietnamese food ingredients, some may fit American palate, other are for Vietnamese. Please share with other visitors and me your though, comments, suggestions, inputs, or any thing else to be included. Your comments may be written in Vietnamese or English
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