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A Visual Glossary of Vietnamese Cuisine

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. 

Soups

Miến gà
An easy to prepare, light chicken noodle soup with mushrooms, shallots, garlic and chicken.

Mien ga | JaulaDeArdilla via Flickr
JaulaDeArdilla via Flickr

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.

Snacks

Xôi gấc
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.

Bánh rán
​A deep-friend glutinous rice ball stuffed with sweet mung bean paste influenced by Chinese culture. 

Banh ran | Mira Pangkey via Flickr
Mira Pangkey via Flickr

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. 

Pate chaud | Lori Kemph / Mutt & Chops
Lori Kemph / Mutt & Chops

Bánh cay
A yucca fritter deep fried with spicy additions like chili powder and spring onions.

Learn more about Vietnamese cuisine on "The Migrant Kitchen" S2 E4: Beyond Pho.

Rice Dumplings

Bánh nậm
​A flattened sticky rice dish mixed with shrimp and scallions, then wrapped in a banana leaf.

Banh nam | Kirk K via Flickr
Kirk K via Flickr

Bánh giò
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.

Banh it ram | thy khuê via Flickr
thy khuê via Flickr

Appetizer

Chạo tôm
A shrimp paste grilled on a sugar cane stick.

Phở cuốn
Uncut phở noodles wrapped around fried beef, lettuce, coriander and dunked in fish sauce.

Pho cuon | Magalie L'Abbé via Flickr
Magalie L'Abbé via Flickr

Gỏi tôm thịt
A shrimp and pork belly cabbage slaw.

Goi thom thit | Kirk K via Flickr
Kirk K via Flickr

Gỏi đu đủ bò khô
Green papaya mixed with beef jerky.

Du du kho bo | Stu Spivak via Flickr
Stu Spivak via Flickr

Gỏi cuốn tôm thịt
Shrimp or meat wrapped in rice paper. Often, simply called spring rolls.

Gio cuon | Pelican via Flickr
Pelican via Flickr

Bánh bèo
Steamed rice cakes from central Vietnam, usually topped with dried shrimp, shredded pork and scallions.

Charcuterie and Drinking Food

Giò thủ
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.

Gio thu | Vivian D Nguyen via Flickr
Vivian D Nguyen via Flickr

Chả quế
A baked cinnamon pate made with pork marinated in fish sauce, cinnamon, sugar, black pepper and cornstarch.

Bê thui
A rare meat salad served with toasted sesame, Vietnamese coriander and pickled onions.

 Ốc len xào dừa
Sea snails cooked in spicy coconut milk.

Oc len xao dua | phuongkim1981 via Flickr
phuongkim1981 via Flickr

Mains

Bánh cuốn
Steamed rice rolls stuffed with pork and mushrooms.

Banh cuon | Johnn via Flickr
Johnn via Flickr

Bánh xèo
A savory pancake served with shrimp, pork and bean sprouts.

Banh xeo | Georges-adrien Carcanis via Flickr
Georges-adrien Carcanis via Flickr

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.

Bo luc lac | Nick Nguyen via Flickr
Nick Nguyen via Flickr

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Soup noodles

Mì quảng
Pork and shrimp in a turmeric broth with noodles and garnished with peanuts and toasted sesame rice crackers.

Mi quang | Sauce Supreme via Wikipedia
Sauce Supreme via Wikipedia

Bún riêu
Pork and crab noodle soup in a tomato broth.

Bun rieu | mmmsedap via Flickr
mmmsedap via Flickr

Noodles

Bún thịt nướng
A cold vermicelli noodle dish topped with grilled pork, fresh herbs, pickled carrots.

Bun thit nuong | Hanoi Mark via Flickr
Hanoi Mark via Flickr

Bún chả
Noodles with pork dumplings

Bun cha | Kirk K via Flickr
Kirk K via Flickr

Braises

Thịt kho
Caramelized pork with eggs

Thit kho | Vivian D Nguyen via Flickr
Vivian D Nguyen via Flickr

Cá kho
Caramelized catfish

Ca kho | Charles Haynes via Flickr
Charles Haynes via Flickr

Gà kho gừng
Braised ginger chicken

Ga kho gung | Linh Nguyen via Flickr
Linh Nguyen via Flickr

Bò kho
Beef stew usually served with a baguette for dipping.

Bo kho | Kirk K via Flickr
Kirk K via Flickr

Sweets

Chè chuối
Warm bananas and tapioca pearls in coconut milk.

Che chuoi | somethings2consider via Flickr
somethings2consider via Flickr

Chè trôi nước
Mung bean mochi in ginger soup.

Che troi nuoc | Candy Can Cook via Flickr
Candy Can Cook via Flickr

Chè ba màu
Red and green beans in coconut milk

Che ba mau | Autumn Nguyen via Flickr
Autumn Nguyen via Flickr

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

 

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