Considered one of the healthiest cuisines in the world, Vietnamese food is beloved for its fresh, bright flavors heavy on seafood and liberal with its use of herbs. We asked Chef Diep Tran of Good Girl Dinette to give us a rundown of Vietnamese dishes we should try aside from the usual phở and bánh mì. Her list while not exhaustive will certainly give readers an idea of the breadth of dishes the rich Vietnamese culinary legacy offers.
An easy to prepare, light chicken noodle soup with mushrooms, shallots, garlic and chicken.
Canh chua cá
A sour soup similar to Filipino sinigang or Thai tom yum usually found in the southern Vietnam region. A catfish is normally cooked in sour tamarind, sweet pineapple and tomato mixed in with taro stems, bean sprouts and scallions.
A bright red sticky rice snack made with gac — baby jackfruit. Its auspicious red coloring makes it a mainstay in major Vietnamese occasions such as weddings, engagements and Lunar New Year celebrations.
A deep-friend glutinous rice ball stuffed with sweet mung bean paste influenced by Chinese culture.
Bánh patê sô
A French-inspired meat pie stuffed with minced pork (or sometimes chicken) mixed with mushrooms, vermicelli noodles encased in layers of puff pastry.
A yucca fritter deep fried with spicy additions like chili powder and spring onions.
A flattened sticky rice dish mixed with shrimp and scallions, then wrapped in a banana leaf.
A pyramid-shaped sticky rice dish with ground pork and wood ear mushrooms wrapped in a banana leaf.
Bánh ít ram
A central Vietnam regional specialty, bánh ít ram is a glutinous rice dish filled with shrimp, pork belly and mung beans that sits on another layer of fried glutinous rice.
A shrimp paste grilled on a sugar cane stick.
Uncut phở noodles wrapped around fried beef, lettuce, coriander and dunked in fish sauce.
Gỏi tôm thịt
A shrimp and pork belly cabbage slaw.
Gỏi đu đủ bò khô
Green papaya mixed with beef jerky.
Gỏi cuốn tôm thịt
Shrimp or meat wrapped in rice paper. Often, simply called spring rolls.
Steamed rice cakes from central Vietnam, usually topped with dried shrimp, shredded pork and scallions.
Charcuterie and Drinking Food
A popular Lunar New Year dish, giò thủ came from Vietnam’s northern region. It is a gelatinous “cheese” made of various parts of a pig head and flavored with garlic, scallions, black fungus, fish sauce. It has a strong, spicy flavor and is best served cold.
A baked cinnamon pate made with pork marinated in fish sauce, cinnamon, sugar, black pepper and cornstarch.
A rare meat salad served with toasted sesame, Vietnamese coriander and pickled onions.
Ốc len xào dừa
Sea snails cooked in spicy coconut milk.
Steamed rice rolls stuffed with pork and mushrooms.
A savory pancake served with shrimp, pork and bean sprouts.
Chả cá lã vọng
Grilled fish with turmeric and dill.
Bò lúc lắc
A steak salad served on a bed of greens and tomatoes, topped with pickled onions and a lime dipping sauce.
Pork and shrimp in a turmeric broth with noodles and garnished with peanuts and toasted sesame rice crackers.
Pork and crab noodle soup in a tomato broth.
Bún thịt nướng
A cold vermicelli noodle dish topped with grilled pork, fresh herbs, pickled carrots.
Noodles with pork dumplings
Caramelized pork with eggs
Gà kho gừng
Braised ginger chicken
Beef stew usually served with a baguette for dipping.
Warm bananas and tapioca pearls in coconut milk.
Chè trôi nước
Mung bean mochi in ginger soup.
Chè ba màu
Red and green beans in coconut milk
Top Image: Vietnamese spring rolls at the Kickstand Cafe in Arlington, MA on Jul. 20, 2015. | Photo by Lane Turner/The Boston Globe via Getty Images