Vietnamese cuisine mirrors the countryâ€™s cultural and ethnic diversity, so that one should talk about Vietnamese cuisines, in the plural. North Vietnamese cuisine is the oldest, and consists mainly of soups, stews and grilled foods. It is extremely sophisticated and is considered one of the best in the world.
Its main characteristic is the systematic use of fresh, light products,
mainly tropical or temperate fruit and vegetables, and avoidance of
fat. It offers a wide variety of foods ranging from meats, crustaceans
and fish to delicious vegetarian specialities accompanied with all
sorts of vegetables, herbs, spices and sauces. In the salads, always
lightly seasoned, the delicate flavours of papaya, green mango or
banana flower intermingle with those of herbs. It is this mixture of
subtle flavours of almost infinite variety that makes Vietnamese
cuisine so original.
Another feature of this cuisine is that the vegetables remain crisp and
retain all their flavour, because they are chopped up, mixed with just
a little garlic or ground ginger, then briefly sauteed on a brisk fire.
As for leafy vegetables, instead of being boiled at length, they are
just thrown into simmering water with a little added oil, and therefore
stay nice and green.
Dishes are served with several varieties of rice: brown rice, crushed
rice, sticky rice, green rice, red rice, black rice, long-grain or
round-grain rice... whose discreet, refined flavour can be enjoyed with
all dishes. There are also rice vermicelli or rice cakes, and wheat or