20 Vietnamese Dishes You Should Know

Jan 30, 2013 2:50PM
Erin Zimmer

What’s the first Vietnamese food that pops to mind for you? Phở? Bánh mì? Spring rolls? All of these are quintessential dishes to be sure—and you’ve already knocked off three of the 20 in this list—but we’ve only just begun.
 
When you’re talking about “Vietnamese food,” as mentioned before, you’re talking about rice in many forms (steamed, sticky, noodles, pancakes, porridge), fish sauce (lots of it), herbs (mint, cilantro, lemongrass), seafood, pork, beef, chicken, and tropical fruits (rambutan, banana, papaya, mango, etc.), with borrowed flavors from the French imperialists and nearby countries like Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and China.
 
Most dishes fall under broader categories. “Bánh,” for example, encompasses the many steamed rice cakes and rolls (like bánh cuốn and bánh bèo); not to be confused with the “bún” family, which always involves some rice vermicelli (whether with pork, as in bún chả, or the various noodle soups, such as bún rieu); “goi” is synonymous with salad, and in Vietnam they’re typically made with non-lettuce things like unripe green papaya or mango.

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