As far as food goes, for me, there is no country that can compete with Vietnam. Flavorful, light, with generous amounts of fresh herbs and endless variations, I never tire of Vietnamese food. Here’s what makes Vietnamese food so special.
Fruits are abundant. The market is full of all sorts of fruits we have never seen before. We drink the most delicious fresh juice while enjoying the view of the river. There is fish with mango at the Mermaid Cafe, we prepare a papaya salad with beef in our cooking class at Red Bridge cooking school, we fill our banh xeo at the Bale Well with young banana (see picture below).
Fresh herbs are essential. Summer rolls, Pho Bo, salads, almost everything comes with fresh basil, coriander, mint and whatever. Herbs don’t grow as big here as they do in Europe, and even if the names are the same, the taste is very different. Coriander is a nightmare at home but the Vietnamese (or Thai) variant is a real plus.
The freshness of the ingredients matters. The many do-it-yourself components in the Vietnamese kitchen make it easy to tell the freshness of the ingredients.
Barbecuing adds flavor to the pork skewers that go into our banh xeo. Barbecued eggplants and the view of the lantern-lit street are stars of our evening at the Morning Glory restaurant. Even the preparation of Pho Bo at our cooking class starts with beef bones on a barbecue.
Soups are given the status they deserve. I mean, noodle soup for breakfast, that’s just awesome. And there is not only Pho Bo – we also try spicy Bun Bo Hue from near-by Hue at Streets and then there is Canh Chua from the South.
Spices are used generously, above all fish sauce. No dish is complete without it. It, hum, takes a bit of time to get used to it until, suddenly, we are convinced and buy a bottle to take home.
Time of visit: April 2012
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