Vietnam Lunar New Year is not only the occasion for family gathering but also cooking traditional food. Let’s see Vietnamese Tet food.
Banh Chung is a solid cake of sticky rice stuffed with stewed meat, vegetables and/or eggs before being wrapped in phrynium leaves (a type of plant related to ginger) and boiled for up to 24 hours. It is either steamed and served hot or sliced into thin pieces and fried until it is crispy. Before Tết you will see blocks of Banh Chung lined up on street stalls all over the city. Keep an eye out for shops offering Banh Chung wrapping services where you can make your own.
Gio is a generic term used to mean a type of pork meat that’s been wrapped in banana leaves and steam cured. It can be smooth or coarse and comes in dozens of shapes and sizes.
Dua Hanh or Hanh Muoi (pickled onions)
Every year for Tết families make or buy delicious pickled onions cured in rice vinegar, salt, chilli, ginger and a little fish sauce. The taste is sharp, salty and moreish with a satisfying crunch.
Dua gop- A lightly pickled, very crunchy veg
Dua Gop is a type of lightly pickled veg made with carrot, white radish, cucumber and any other veg available at the time. It’s the lightly pickled slaw you normally see on a Banh Mi expect at Tết it’s rarely shredded with people prefering larger chunkier cuts of veg. It’s prepared a few days in advance using rice vinegar, fresh water, sugar and salt.
This one isn’t quite so appealing to the western eye but it is delicious. To make Thit Dong you first make a soup full of choice cuts of pork and a stock made from stewed bones. The finished soup is well reduced before being cooled in the fridge. The natural gelatine in the bones firms up into a thin jelly once it cools. It’s eaten cold with a side of sticky rice.
Nem (Spring Rolls)
Everyone knows and loves Vietnamese Spring Rolls. Their fresh taste and crispy texture have made them an international favourite. Most families will prepare Nem according to their family’s recipe days before Tết and keep them safe in the freezer.
Xoi (Sticky rice)
Xoi is a type of hearty, filling sticky rice, seasoned with tumeric and topped with dried meat and veg. It’s a classic, live long dish that can be safely stored and eating for breakfast everyday.