Cultured Palate: Dishes from Vietnam

If you’ve never traveled to Vietnam, you can’t even begin to imagine how much you’re missing out on. Not only is it gorgeous and rich in culture and history, Vietnam is also a foodie mecca. Nowhere on Earth can you get such delicious food, prepared street side, at all hours of the day.

Vietnamese food is rich without being heavy, flavorful without being overwhelming, and simultaneously refreshing and filling. Vietnamese food is always prepared with the freshest possible ingredients. It uses herbs and other greens to complement rich cuts of meat, making a completely balanced and harmonious meal.

If you’re heading that way soon, here are a few of the top dishes that you shouldn’t miss out on.

Goi Cuon

Goi cuon are salad rolls made of delicious and fresh rice paper wraps, which envelop a variety of ingredients, depending on your taste, and where you are in the country. Goi cuon will usually feature a protein like pork, shrimp, or even tofu, wrapped up with various herbs like mint, basil, or cilantro.

Goi cuon are generally served with a light dipping sauce. These are often a fish sauce with chilis, or a peanut-based sauce which is perfect for red meats like pork or beef. They’re the perfect on-the-go snack.

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Bánh Xèo

Bánh xèo is a type of savory pancake made fresh to order – it’s hot, crispy, and totally addictive. The batter is made of coconut milk and rice flour, then customizable toppings are thrown on as the batter hits the hot pan. Common inclusions are pork, shrimp, and tons of bean sprouts.

Once it’s cooked, bánh xèo is served with a plate of lettuce and herbs, so you can add some crunch to each bite. It’s like a giant, delicious spring roll.

Kent Wang

Nom Hoa Chuoi

Nom hoa chuoi is a type of salad made with chopped banana flowers. It’s most similar to mango salad from Thailand, but the banana flowers provide an interesting textural crunch alongside green papaya, carrots, and a healthy handful of cilantro and chopped peanuts.

The whole thing is tossed with a vinaigrette dressing made out of fish sauce (nước chấm) which gives it a sour, funky punch that ties the whole dish together. Enjoy it on a hot summer day for a refreshing yet healthy treat.