The History of Authentic Vietnamese Recipes: The Birth of Noodles
Authentic Vietnamese recipes became a reality when the noodle became popular around the 2BC. Since then they have been a staple for everyday life.
The history of Vietnam dates back to around 12,000 BC, when the first indigenous settlers came to live in the Hong River Valley surviving through harvesting plants and hunting. Around 6000 years later the Vietnamese people began wet rice farming.
The fertile lands of Vietnam already provided meat, fish, plants, and herbs, these staples being the base of traditional Vietnamese food. In the year 2BC, Vietnam would then go on to live under the reign of Chinese dynasties, this causing political unrest but also the birth of the noodle in Vietnam.
Noodles are known to have been invented in China, around the time of the East Han Dynasty, being originally made from millet and other grains found native to China. Over time, recipes expanded to include rice, eggs, and wheat, these techniques then being exported to Vietnam.
So, as the most traditional Vietnamese food is the noodle-based dish phở, you may presume that the dish existed 2,000 years ago. Actually, the dish was only invented in North Vietnam in the early 20th century.
By this time, Vietnam was no longer ruled by China, and French colonialists had already arrived. From 1887 to 1954, Vietnamese traditional was heavily influenced by the fact that Vietnam was essentially a part of French Indochina.
The fusion of noodles from China and herbs from France is what actually created the original phở dish, the dish being based on the French dish pot-au-feu, where beef bones are boiled with vegetables. This combined with authentic Vietnamese recipes has made the food only better.
As early as 1900, street sellers would wonder the streets with barrels of soup, selling it to anyone interested, Chinese migrant workers love the dish that reminded them of being back home.
Authentic Vietnamese Recipes: The Legacy Continues
The mix of Chinese and French ingredients in authentic Vietnamese recipes and food didn’t end with noodles and phở. The French baguette would be taken and transformed, and filled with seafood, pate, eggs, chili, marinated meats, and pickled vegetables in a dish called bánh mì.
The legacy of the French influence could also be seen in a thin pancake Bánh xèo that has striking similarities with French crepes, the main difference being that the batter was made from rice flour.
Coffee and chocolate were also brought over by Colonists from across Europe, Vietnamese chocolate now being so dark and intense that it is almost black in color. Cà phê would include a dose of condensed milk to make it sweet.
1954 marked a very important date for Vietnam, the Geneva Convention splitting the nation into two. Many northerners migrated south, bringing their recipes with them to a land more fertile with all-year-round sun where limes and bean sprouts would be added to traditional phở.
After the American War, many Vietnamese citizens would choose to migrate, many opening restaurants offering traditional Vietnamese food all across the globe.
At the same time, rice production would hit an all-time low back in Vietnam, with much agricultural land having been damaged during the way, mines and Agent Orange having damaged the soil.
This meant that people were forced to diversify, mixing rice with sorghum, and white and sweet potatoes Vietnam becoming one of the poorest nations in the world in the 1980’s.
Thankfully times would change, and nowadays Vietnam is seen as a country of abundance, where parents are known for over-feeding their children after years of malnutrition and famine. Walk down any street in the country and you will see terraces of cafes on the sidewalks.
The culinary delights of Vietnam are continuing to evolve, with new modern cuisine now having a place alongside the traditional Vietnamese dishes. Prevalent in Vietnam, like in any nation nowadays are fast food outlets.
So, another concern for the country is to encourage healthy eating at all times, as after the famine that blighted Vietnam, there is no longer a danger that food sources will run out.
Traditional Vietnamese foods still dominant the majority of households, although of course Western influences mean that a wider variety of foods is now available.
Authentic Vietnamese Recipes and Food Dishes
Although new cuisine is abundant in Vietnam, the country is still best known for its age-old recipes such as Pho and Vietnamese baguettes. Another traditional dish, known as Bun cha is a dish made with fresh noodles, fish sauce, and barbecued pork.
As a visitor to Vietnam, you may find this dish on a menu listed as “Obama Noodles” Bánh cuốn is another of the most traditional Vietnamese foods you will find abundantly, this dish consisting of seasoned pork and mushroom rolls dunked in fish sauce.
Chè is another authentic Vietnamese recipes and food from Vietnam that can be served both as a savory dish as well as for a sweet, the dish commonly containing anything from kidney beans to tapioca and fruit.
Cuisine Mói: Modern Vietnamese Cuisine
Although the country is still best-known for street food and eateries in alleyways and on every street, fine dining has also made its’ way to the country. A small group of chefs, including Peter Cuong Franklin is responsible for this movement.
Having worked in some of the most prestigious kitchens around the world, his latest venture is Anan Saigon. This new technique in Vietnamese food combines traditional Vietnamese foods with modern techniques and presentations.
Vietnamese food is amongst the most diverse in the world, thanks to its influences from China, South East Asia, and France. With regional diversity also coming into play, probably the best place to savor Vietnamese cuisine is in Saigon.
Cuisine Mói takes traditional and local ingredients, and transforms them into gourmet level dishes. Although the standard dishes of pho and banh mi will always be the most common in Vietnam, it is important that people try new and exciting foods.
Food in Vietnam will always be unique thanks to the special cultural connection the country shares with France. Combined with the years of Chinese reign, it is safe to say that Vietnamese food is diverse, and often far from what visitors expect.
After all, unless you have done your history of the country, you wouldn’t expect to be able to order a stuffed French baguette for your lunch.
The 26 Best Authentic Vietnamese Recipes
Vietnamese Egg Coffee is a unique and indulgent beverage that combines the rich flavors of coffee with the creaminess of egg yolks. It is made by whisking together egg yolks, condensed milk, and a touch of sugar until frothy and creamy. This mixture is then poured over a cup of strong black coffee, creating a velvety and sweet layer on top. The combination of the slightly bitter coffee and the sweet, custard-like egg mixture creates a delicious and distinct flavor profile. It is a popular drink in Vietnam, often enjoyed as a decadent treat or dessert.
Vietnamese Noodles with Lemongrass Chicken is a flavorful and aromatic dish that combines tender grilled chicken marinated in lemongrass, soy sauce, and other spices, served over a bed of rice noodles. The dish is often garnished with fresh herbs like cilantro and mint, along with bean sprouts, sliced cucumbers, and crushed peanuts for added texture and freshness. The combination of the fragrant lemongrass, savory chicken, and the light and refreshing noodles creates a delicious and satisfying meal.
Vietnamese Homemade Pho is a traditional and comforting noodle soup that features a flavorful broth, tender rice noodles, and a variety of toppings. The broth is typically made by simmering beef bones and aromatic spices like star anise, cinnamon, and cloves for hours to achieve a rich and fragrant flavor. Thinly sliced beef or chicken is added to the steaming hot broth, along with fresh herbs, bean sprouts, lime wedges, and chili for customization. It’s a nourishing and satisfying dish that is enjoyed throughout Vietnam.
Vietnamese Lemongrass Beef and Noodle Salad is a refreshing and vibrant dish that combines marinated grilled beef, rice noodles, and a variety of fresh herbs and vegetables. The beef is infused with fragrant lemongrass, garlic, and soy sauce, giving it a delightful flavor. The noodles are cooked until tender and served with the beef, along with a colorful assortment of lettuce, cucumbers, bean sprouts, and herbs like mint and cilantro. It’s typically drizzled with a tangy and slightly sweet dressing made from fish sauce, lime juice, and chili.
Vietnamese Style Meatballs with Chili Sauce is a flavorful and savory dish featuring tender meatballs seasoned with aromatic herbs and spices. The meatballs are typically made with a combination of ground meat, such as pork or beef, mixed with garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and fish sauce for an authentic Vietnamese taste. They are then served with a tangy and slightly spicy chili sauce that adds a delightful kick to the dish. These meatballs make a delicious appetizer or main course and are often enjoyed with rice or noodles.
Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls are a light and refreshing dish consisting of rice paper wrappers filled with a variety of fresh vegetables, herbs, and often with shrimp or tofu. The rolls are typically accompanied by a savory dipping sauce, such as hoisin or peanut sauce, that adds a burst of flavor. These spring rolls are a popular appetizer or snack in Vietnamese cuisine, known for their vibrant colors and delicate flavors. They are a healthy and satisfying option for those seeking a lighter meal.
Vietnamese Chicken with Ginger is a flavorful and aromatic dish featuring tender chicken pieces marinated in a combination of ginger, garlic, and soy sauce. The chicken is typically stir-fried with fresh ginger, onions, and other vegetables, creating a delicious balance of savory and slightly spicy flavors. This dish is commonly served with steamed rice and garnished with fresh herbs like cilantro or green onions. Vietnamese Chicken with Ginger is a comforting and satisfying meal that showcases the vibrant and fragrant elements of Vietnamese cuisine.
Vietnamese Shaking Beef, also known as Bo Luc Lac, is a popular dish featuring tender cubes of beef that are marinated and stir-fried to perfection. The beef is typically seasoned with garlic, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and a touch of sweetness. It is then quickly seared in a hot wok or skillet, resulting in a flavorful and juicy beef with a slightly caramelized exterior. The dish is often served over a bed of fresh salad greens and accompanied by rice or baguette. Vietnamese Shaking Beef is a delicious and satisfying meal with a perfect balance of savory and umami flavors.
Spicy Vietnamese Beef Noodle Bowl is a vibrant and flavorful dish that combines tender slices of beef, rice noodles, and a medley of fresh herbs and vegetables. The beef is typically marinated in a spicy sauce made with chili, garlic, and soy sauce, giving it a bold and zesty flavor. The noodles are cooked until tender and then tossed with the beef and an assortment of colorful vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, and bean sprouts. This dish is often garnished with fresh herbs like cilantro and mint, and served with a tangy and spicy dressing for a delightful and satisfying meal.
Vietnamese-Style Baked Chicken is a delicious and aromatic dish that features tender chicken pieces marinated in a flavorful blend of Vietnamese spices and seasonings. The marinade often includes ingredients like fish sauce, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and chili, creating a harmonious balance of savory, tangy, and slightly spicy flavors. The chicken is then baked to perfection, resulting in juicy and fragrant meat with a caramelized glaze. This dish is commonly served with steamed rice and a side of fresh vegetables or pickled accompaniments for a complete Vietnamese culinary experience.
Vietnamese Banh Mi Sandwich is a delightful fusion of French and Vietnamese flavors. It typically features a crusty baguette filled with a combination of savory and tangy ingredients. The filling often includes marinated and grilled meats (such as pork, chicken, or beef), pickled vegetables (such as carrots and daikon radishes), fresh herbs (such as cilantro and mint), and a drizzle of spicy mayo or Sriracha sauce. The result is a harmonious blend of textures and flavors, making it a popular street food option in Vietnam and beyond.
Vietnamese-Flavored Broccoli Rabe is a delicious and vibrant side dish that showcases the flavors of Vietnamese cuisine. This recipe typically involves stir-frying broccoli rabe with aromatic ingredients like garlic, ginger, and chili peppers. It may also incorporate traditional Vietnamese seasonings like fish sauce, soy sauce, and lime juice for a savory and tangy flavor profile. The result is a dish that balances the bitterness of broccoli rabe with the bold and zesty flavors of Vietnamese cuisine.
Vietnamese Broken Rice (Com Tam) with Grilled Pork is a popular street food dish in Vietnam. It features fragrant broken rice topped with grilled marinated pork, often served with pickled vegetables, sliced cucumber, and a side of fish sauce for dipping. The grilled pork is typically tender and flavorful, with a slightly sweet and savory marinade. The combination of textures and flavors in this dish creates a satisfying and delicious meal that is enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.
Vietnamese Tilapia with Turmeric and Dill is a flavorful and aromatic dish commonly found in Vietnamese cuisine. The tilapia fillets are marinated in a mixture of turmeric, garlic, fish sauce, and other spices, giving them a vibrant yellow color and a fragrant aroma. The fish is then pan-fried until crispy and served with fresh dill and scallions for added freshness and garnish. The combination of turmeric and dill creates a unique and delightful flavor profile that is enjoyed in this traditional Vietnamese recipe.
Vietnamese Chicken Curry is a hearty and flavorful dish that combines tender chicken pieces with a rich and aromatic curry sauce. The curry is made using a blend of Vietnamese spices such as lemongrass, ginger, garlic, and turmeric, which infuse the dish with their distinct flavors. The chicken is simmered in the curry sauce until it becomes tender and absorbs all the delicious flavors. It is typically served over steamed rice or with crusty bread for dipping into the flavorful sauce.
Classic Vietnamese Dipping Sauce, also known as Nuoc Cham, is a tangy and savory sauce that is commonly used in Vietnamese cuisine. It is made with a combination of fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, water, and garlic, along with optional additions such as chili peppers and shredded carrots. The sauce has a perfect balance of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy flavors, making it a versatile accompaniment to spring rolls, grilled meats, noodle dishes, and more. Its vibrant flavors add a refreshing and zesty element to any Vietnamese meal.
Vietnamese Crepes, also known as Banh Xeo, are a popular street food in Vietnam. These savory pancakes are made with a rice flour batter infused with turmeric, giving them a vibrant yellow color. The crepes are filled with a combination of ingredients such as shrimp, pork, bean sprouts, and green onions. They are typically served with fresh herbs, lettuce, and a dipping sauce, such as Nuoc Cham. The crepes have a crispy exterior and a soft, flavorful filling, making them a delicious and satisfying dish.
Vietnamese-Style Shrimp Stir-Fry is a flavorful and vibrant dish that combines succulent shrimp with a medley of fresh vegetables and aromatic spices. The dish typically features ingredients like shrimp, bell peppers, onions, snap peas, and a variety of herbs and seasonings such as garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and fish sauce. The result is a delicious stir-fry with a balance of savory, tangy, and slightly spicy flavors, showcasing the unique taste profile of Vietnamese cuisine.
Vietnamese Caramelized Pork Belly is a popular and indulgent dish that showcases the rich and sweet flavors of caramelized pork. The dish typically consists of succulent slices of pork belly that are caramelized in a sticky and fragrant sauce made from a combination of sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, garlic, and other seasonings. The result is tender, melt-in-your-mouth pork with a perfect balance of savory and sweet flavors, making it a favorite in Vietnamese cuisine.
Vietnamese Fish Hot Pot, also known as “Ca kho to,” is a flavorful and comforting dish made with fish cooked in a rich and aromatic caramel sauce. The dish typically features firm white fish, such as catfish or basa, which is braised in a combination of fish sauce, sugar, garlic, ginger, and spices. The caramel sauce infuses the fish with a sweet and savory flavor, resulting in tender and flavorful bites. It is often served with steamed rice and garnished with fresh herbs for a complete and satisfying meal.
Vietnamese-Inspired Chicken Salad with Rice Noodles is a refreshing and vibrant dish that combines tender poached chicken, rice noodles, and a variety of fresh vegetables and herbs. The salad is typically dressed with a tangy and slightly sweet Vietnamese dressing made with lime juice, fish sauce, garlic, and chili. The combination of flavors and textures creates a light and satisfying meal, perfect for warm weather. It is often garnished with crushed peanuts and served with a side of nuoc cham dipping sauce for an extra burst of flavor.
Vietnamese Chicken Rice Porridge, also known as “Chao Ga,” is a comforting and nourishing dish made with tender chicken and fragrant jasmine rice cooked in a flavorful chicken broth. The rice is cooked until it breaks down and becomes creamy, resulting in a smooth and comforting porridge-like texture. The dish is often seasoned with ginger, garlic, and fish sauce for added depth of flavor. It is commonly garnished with fresh herbs, sliced green onions, and a squeeze of lime juice for brightness. It is a popular dish enjoyed for breakfast or as a comforting meal any time of the day.
Vietnamese Egg Meatloaf, known as “Cha Trung,” is a delicious and versatile dish made with ground meat, typically pork or chicken, mixed with eggs and various seasonings. The mixture is then steamed or baked until cooked through and set into a firm texture. It is often flavored with fish sauce, garlic, shallots, and black pepper for a savory and aromatic profile. Vietnamese Egg Meatloaf is commonly served as a side dish or a main course and pairs well with steamed rice and dipping sauces.
Vietnamese Beef and Crispy Rice Bowl is a flavorful and satisfying dish consisting of marinated beef, stir-fried vegetables, and crispy rice. The beef is typically marinated in a combination of soy sauce, fish sauce, garlic, and other aromatic ingredients, then cooked until tender and juicy. The stir-fried vegetables add crunch and freshness to the dish, while the crispy rice provides a delightful texture. It is often garnished with herbs, such as cilantro and mint, and served with a side of dipping sauce for added flavor.
Vietnamese Beef Meatballs are delicious and savory meatballs made with a combination of ground beef, herbs, and aromatic spices. They are typically seasoned with ingredients like garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and fish sauce to give them a distinctive Vietnamese flavor. These meatballs are often served as a main course or used in soups, noodles, or banh mi sandwiches. They can be grilled, baked, or pan-fried until cooked through and tender, resulting in a flavorful and satisfying dish.
Bánh Bò Nướng, also known as Vietnamese Honeycomb Cake, is a popular traditional Vietnamese dessert. It is a soft and spongy cake with a unique honeycomb-like texture, which is achieved by using a combination of rice flour, tapioca flour, coconut milk, and yeast. The cake is often flavored with pandan extract, giving it a vibrant green color and a fragrant aroma. Bánh Bò Nướng is typically enjoyed as a sweet treat on its own or served with a cup of hot tea or coffee.
For complete photos and videos of our trips, visit our photos on our Facebook Page