Why is Vietnamese food so popular?
Vietnamese food is naturally a very healthy cuisine and the expression ‘less is more’ comes to mind’. the flavours are explosive so you come away feeling as if you have eaten something quite spectacular, yet you haven’t consumed many calories. This food is a lot about assembly which makes it quite theatrical and great for entertaining and eating with friends. The national dish is the flavourful pho, a broth made with rice noodles and brimming with savoury greens, including basil and bean sprouts. Pho Bo is made with beef broth, while PhoGa is made with chicken broth.
Fewer ingredients – yet big flavours
Unlike other Asian cuisines that use a lot of flavoursome herbs and spices, in Vietnamese cooking there are fewer choices, but bigger flavours. The herbs are not only used to accentuate other flavours…. Instead they are part of the meal itself. Like the rest of Asia, rice is a mainstay in Vietnamese food, however not necessarily as a grain but in the form of rice noodles and is present at every meal time.
Learn to cook Vietnamese food
The traditional Vietnam dinner table always contains a salad bowl into which we place several very flavourful herbs such as mint, coriander red or green perilla, which is like lemon balm. These herbs are plentiful and brimming in chunks; also they are torn into every single serving dish or salad bowl so that when you bite into it you get a real burst of flavour with each mouthful. The herb/lettuce/vegetable combo is most often then covered with round rice noodles, known as banh pho.
The health benefits of Vietnamese ingredients
Like other Asian cuisine so many of the ingredients have healthy properties that add so many medicinal value to the food. It also relies less on stir fries and more on broth based dishes which is a very clean way of eating food and less calorific..
Coriander is in virtually all Vietnamese dishes, which contains antibacterial compounds, as well as having cholesterol- lowering properties and dietary fibre and magnesium. Red chillies are also highly present in this cuisine which is good for the blood and the cardiovascular system. Fresh mint is very good for digestion and calming the stomach acids.
Vietnamese cuisine is also distinguished by the generous use of dipping sauces, which help to give the food its distinctive flavour. A typical sauce recipe combines garlic, chillies, lime juice or vinegar, sugar, and the hallmark ingredient, fish sauce which is used in practically all dishes except sweet ones.
Meat Is Not the Main Attraction
Another reason Vietnamese food tends to be lower in fat and calories is essentially because protein is not the main part of the dish, but rather meat is used more like a condiment than a main course. Notice how lean Vietnamese people generally are, I do believe this is as a result of their diet and reliance on less meat more herbs and vegetables. Meat is usually cut into thin strips and is consumed in small parts. The preparation is also simple, meats are most often cut into thin strips or slices, soaked in a simple marinade that might contain shallots, lemongrass and some fish sauce, then grilled quickly and brought to the table in warm clay pots.
“The idea then is to pick up a piece of meat, put it in the dipping sauce, pick up some herbs and rice and put the complete bite into your mouth,” says Pham. The flavours blend together and explode in your mouth.
Another traditionally Vietnamese way of serving all these ingredients is to wrap them in rice paper. You end up with a dish that’s similar to an egg roll, but without the frying, much healthier I would say and summer rolls are a great example of this. The rice paper is so thin you can literally see inside which is quite appealing.
If you’re intrigued by this enticing cuisine, and want to give it a try, Vietnamese restaurants are springing up around the country. However if you’d like to have a go at making your own Vietnamese food then join us on one of our Vietnamese cookery classes and see how easy it is to create these great flavours and so easily. It will become a great addition to your menu
For further information contact Cara at The Cooking Academy 01923 778880. firstname.lastname@example.org
Kumud Gandhi is a Nutritional Food Scientist bestselling Author, Broadcaster, and Keynote Speaker on the subject of nutritional health for productivity & performance in the workplace. In 2010 Kumud founded ‘The Cooking Academy’ a cookery school that focusses on cooking for nutritional health and wellbeing. Kumud regularly presents to international audiences on a variety of topics such as ‘Eating for Immunity and a Lifetime of Wellness’. She is an expert in the field of Wellness in the Workplace and works with organizations to create transformational change in employee health & well-being through nutrition and health coaching.