Guidebook Vietnamese food is regional … and healthy

Eat, Drink

Vietnamese food is regional … and healthy

Every region lays claim to unique edible delights,” writes Brett Atkinson at Lonely Planet. “Culinary classics such as northern pho, Hue imperial banquet fare, and southern sizzling pancakes are just a tasty sample of what's on offer.” Vietnam's three main regions reflect their different climates, cultures, and traditions, explains Fodors. Here’s the summary: “In the north, which has a distinct winter, ginger and dill are commonly used, as are some Chinese spices. The food of the Central region is the spiciest in Vietnam and includes everyday home cooking, as well as the elaborate Imperial cuisine developed during the Nguyen Dynasty. In the lush, tropical south, there's a stronger focus on salads and herbs, which are added to soups or used as wraps.”

The heavy use of herbs gives Vietnamese food its punchy clean flavors, explains Jonathan DeHart at The Diplomat. “There are a huge variety of herbs found throughout the country and some very localized ones that you cannot find outside a particular town or region. Herbs are part of almost every meal,” Graham Holliday, author of Eating Viet Nam, tells The Diplomat. And there is great care for balance. Salty, sweet, sour and spicy are the main elements, according to Mark Lowerson of Hanoi Street Food Tours. “But in Vietnam, the spice component of street food dishes is pretty much managed by the individual customer,” he said. “In other words, the food’s not spicy until you put the chillies or hot sauce on yourself.”

Vietnamese food isn’t just delicious -- it’s also really healthy, says Huff Post. “Low in fat, gluten-free and jam-packed with vitamins and minerals, it is the perfect food to boost your immune system, aid weight loss and give your energy.” What’s more, with antioxidants that delay ageing, “Vietnamese salads and soups are full of Vitamins E and A, thanks to fresh herbs, spices, plenty of veg and lean protein,” it’s almost always naturally gluten-free (“as many of the dishes are made with rice noodles, rice papers and rice flour instead of wheat”), it improves digestion with restorative herbs like coriander and mint, and reduces calories because it is “flavoured with herbs and spices (instead of oil or dairy) and is packed full of fresh fruit and vegetables.”

Eat, Drink
  • Guidebook