Vietnamese Cuisine & Recipes

Vietnamese Cuisine  

Vietnamese cuisine encompasses the foods and beverages of Vietnam, and features a combination of five fundamental taste elements (Vietnamese: ngũ vị) in the overall meal. Each Vietnamese dish has a distinctive flavor which reflects one or more of these elements. Common ingredients include fish sauce, shrimp paste, soy sauce, rice, fresh herbs, and fruits and vegetables. 

Vietnamese recipes use lemongrass, ginger, mint, Vietnamese mint, long coriander, Saigon cinnamon, bird's eye chili, lime, and basil leaves. Traditional Vietnamese cooking is greatly admired for its fresh ingredients, minimal use of oil, and reliance on herbs and vegetables. With the balance between fresh herbs and meats and a selective use of spices to reach a fine taste, Vietnamese food is considered one of the healthiest cuisines worldwide.

Philosophical importance

Known for its balance of five elements, many Vietnamese dishes include five fundamental taste senses (ngũ vị): spicy (metal), sour (wood), bitter (fire), salty (water) and sweet (Earth), corresponding to: five organs (ngũ tạng): gall bladder, small intestine, large intestine, stomach, and urinary bladder.

Vietnamese dishes also include five types of nutrients (ngũ chất): powder, water or liquid, mineral elements, protein and fat. Vietnamese cooks try to have five colours (ngũ sắc): white (metal), green (wood), yellow (Earth), red (fire) and black (water) in their dishes.

Dishes in Vietnam appeal to gastronomes via five senses (năm giác quan): food arrangement attracts eyes, sounds come from crisp ingredients, five spices are detected on the tongue, aromatic ingredients coming mainly from herbs stimulate the nose, and some meals, especially finger food, can be perceived by touching.

Five element correspondence

Vietnamese cuisine is influenced by the Asian principle of five elements and Mahābhūta.

CorrespondenceElements
WoodFireEarthMetalWater
Spices (ngũ vị)SourBitterSweetSpicySalty
Organs (ngũ tạng)Gall bladderSmall intestineStomachLarge intestineUrinary bladder
Colors (ngũ sắc)GreenRedYellowWhiteBlack
Senses (ngũ giác )VisualTasteTouchSmellSound
Nutrients (ngũ chất)CarbohydratesFatProteinMineralsWater

Yin yang balance

Yin yang balance

The principle of yin and yang is applied in composing a meal in a way that provides a balance that is beneficial for the body. While contrasting texture and flavors are important, the principal primarily concerns the "heating" and "cooling" properties of ingredients. Certain dishes are served in their respective seasons to provide contrasts in temperature and spiciness of the food and environment.Some examples are:

Duck meat, considered "cool", is served during the hot summer with ginger fish sauce, which is "warm". Conversely, chicken, which is "warm", and pork, which is "hot", are eaten in the winter.

+ Seafoods ranging from "cool" to "cold" are suitable to use with ginger ("warm").

+ Spicy food ("hot") are typically balanced with sourness, which is considered "cool".

+ Balut (hột vịt lộn), meaning "upside-down egg" ("cold"), must be combined with Vietnamese mint (rau răm) ("hot").



 
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