- Offal and Blood
It may sound a little traumatizing, but when it is cooked, it tastes delicious.. Offal soup, or Phá lấu, is a popular snack here in the South. Animal organs, most commonly cow’s, are braised in spices and coconut milk, giving it a rich and creamy taste. You can mop the soup up with a baguette, while you use wooden picks to pick up the meat, dip it in a special tamarind sauce or fish sauce.
Phá lấu virtually doesn’t exist in the North, but they have their quirk with a dish called Tiết canh. The name of the dish literally means blood soup, and – wait for it – the blood is raw. This is the perfect dish to wake up your inner Nosferatu. The blood is preferably taken from live poultry, most commonly chicken, though sometimes pig’s or cow’s does the job. Then the blood is seasoned and left to coagulate. The result is a squishy soup with the texture of jellybeans.
- Fetal Eggs
Many South East Asian countries have this dish, too, where it is commonly known as balut. It is a fertilized and semi-incubated egg. The Vietnamese version is incubated for a slightly longer, between 19-21 days. Laksa leaves are usually served with fetal birds, among other seasonings. In the north, the eggs are boiled without any other variations, while in the south there is a whole array of dishes with fetal birds that includes stir-fry dishes, or maybe braising it with tamarind sauce.
- Vegetables – and a whole lot of them
An agricultural country since its birth, vegetables were the staple diet in old times, while meat was considered a luxury. Today, vegetables are still contributing big time to Vietnamese cuisine, evidences in the huge number of salads and soups that has vegetables as their stars. Having vegetables in daily meals is a must; and eating vegetables has long been thought to helping with the digestive system and slowing down the aging process. Though the South is the main supplier of agricultural products, the North is the bigger consumer.
- Soups – 3 times a day
Like vegetables, soups are indispensable in Vietnamese daily meals. It could be very simple, like the water used to boil vegetables, to highly intricate, like fish soup. The soup is rarely served seperately, the exceptions being a few highly nutritious and expensive soups, but in everyday meals, it is usually eaten with rice. By doing that, the rice would be more porridge-like, therefore easier to consume. Because soups have their own flavor, it would also season the rice, so you can also cut down on the food you eat. Brilliant!
Snails are consumed in all Vietnam, but the diversity in the North and the South is remarkable. The North always prefers simple things, snails are usually boiled, dip in good Nuoc Cham or serve as ingredients for other dishes, Bun Oc, or snail vermicelli, is an example.
In the South, snail dishes and the way they process the snails is drastically different. Here, snails can be stir-fried in tamarind sauce, or with garlic, or used in a plethora of noodle and rice dishes.
- Fish sauce everything
Fish sauce plays a pivotal part in Vietnamese cuisine. The sauce is indigenous to the land, which makes it, one way or another, pride and joy of Vietnam. In every meal, fish sauce must be in presence, and even some of the dishes will be seasoned by fish sauce. The Northerners tend to be salty and sour in flavor, while the Southerners love their fish sauce to be sweet
Come to Vietnam for the best experience. If you are still not sure where should you go to enjoy all the foods we have to offer, travel with us here. A local’s insight sure won’t leave you disappointed!
By Kieu Anh from Lose The Tie Team