As in other Southeast Asian countries, the astonishing diversity of regional cuisines in Vietnam is highly dependent on the different flavors used in each location. Vietnamese cooks use many fresh spices, herbs, and locally grown vegetables. As climate, soil, and culinary customs change across the country, additives vary as well. However, here are five of the most ubiquitous and essential ingredients that you can use to prepare a proper Vietnamese meal at home.
Spring onion (hành lá), also known as chives or chives, has tubular green leaves that can be minced and added to soups, noodles, porridge, and stir-fry during the last stage of cooking or as a garnish. However, some Vietnamese people do not like it in their phở.
Chives go well with tomato-based broths and sauces. Chopped chives can also be mixed into tortillas and meatballs.
Chive oil (mỡ hành), which is chopped
chives lightly cooked in vegetable oil, found in dishes such as cơm tấm and bánh hỏi in central and southern Vietnam
Video: chive oil
Video Source: RunAwayRice
The small white bulbs of chives are traditionally pickled for serving during Tet in the north, while in the south, Chinese pickled onions (kiệu) are more common.
Shallots (hành tim) refer to small onion bulbs, often red or purple in color, that are used similarly to garlic in stir-fries, stews, and soups. They can be sliced or finely chopped and used to flavor marinades before cooking, or deep-fried before adding other ingredients to the pan.
Crispy fried shallots (hành phi), made with sliced shallots fried until golden brown, they are also a favorite garnish for noodles, porridge, glutinous rice, fried rice, and steamed rice rolls.
Video: How to Make Crispy Fried Shallots
Video Source: Van’s Kitchen | Vietnamese home cooking
Garlic (you) is an essential ingredient in the Vietnamese pantry, often accompanied by chili (Old Testament). Minced garlic and chili are used in the versatile Vietnamese sauce, nước chấm.
Garlic and chili can also be pickled in vinegar to make a type of seasoning called giấm tỏi ớt, which is often added to noodles before serving.
Video: How to Make Vietnamese Chili Garlic Fish Sauce
Video Source: Cooky TV
Garlic can be added to sautéed vegetables to bring out a distinctive flavor in the originally soft vegetables. This recipe is common in Vietnamese cuisine, as well as Chinese and Thai cuisines. The aroma of garlic also complements different types of meat when fried, especially veal.
Lemongrass (yes) is another herb that can be combined with chili, most commonly in southern Vietnam.
It has a citrus aroma, similar to that of lemons, although much stronger. It can be used to marinate sauteed beef, grilled pork, fried chicken, and everything in between. For these dishes, the lemongrass stalk is finely chopped and mixed well with the meat before cooking.
Video: Vietnamese beef noodle salad
Video source: honeysuckle
Lemongrass can also be used to enhance the flavor of fish soup (canh chua), beef noodle soup (bún bò Huế), or added to steamed seafood dishes; its strong aroma helps to attenuate the smell of fresh seafood.
Chili is one of the oldest and most widely used spices in the world, dating back to 7500 BC. C. in the American continent and then it spread to European countries, such as Portugal and, finally, Asia, through ancient trade routes.
In Vietnam, chili comes in many forms, freshly minced chili, dried chili, chili powder or flakes, chili oil, and chili sauce. Cooks in the center and south use more chili peppers than their neighbors to the north, but in the north chili peppers are still available as an optional condiment to serve.
Chili peppers not only add a spicy and addictive flavor to any dish, but they also add a bright red color that pairs very well with green chives, white garlic, or yellow lemongrass. Chili powder is probably the most convenient way to use chili for cooking and garnish, and it is also the least spicy.