History of Vietnamese Food

Throughout the ages Vietnamese cuisine has been influenced by the Chinese who called Vietnam their home for almost 1,000 years.  A French twist also remains from the 80 years of the French Colonial days.

As with other subject matter, on researching Vietnamese food I have been astounded as there is so much to it than meets the eye.  Of course it is an ancient culture and so much wisdom is ingrained into them which are utilized in their daily lives and habits.

Below are some facts, which really hadn’t really occurred to me, but now I read it, it makes total sense and I can see it playing out in different foods etc.


Most meals contain the following:

  • 5 tastes – spicy, sour, bitter, salty, sweet.  These relate to the 5 different organs: gall bladder, small intestine, large intestine, stomach and urinary bladder.
  • 5 types of nutrients –  powder, water, liquid, minerals, protein and fat.
  • 5 colors – white, green, yellow, red and black.
  • 5 senses that satisfy:
  1. Sight – the 5 colors and presentation of the food
  2. Sound – the crispness of the crunch as you bite into something
  3. Taste – from the 5 different tastes
  4. Smell – the aromatic smell of fresh herbs and the combination of the ingredients
  5. Touch – picking up the finger food or the feeling of the different textures in the mouth.

Essential Ingredients

Generally Vietnamese food is made up of rice, fresh herbs, assorted meats, seafood, fish, fish sauce, soy sauce; and various fruits and vegetables.

Traditional Vietnamese food is known and admired for its freshness of ingredients and healthy cooking styles.  Vegetarian options are available which was influenced from their Buddhist values.

With that in mind and as a generalization a typical Vietnamese family dinner would consist of a bowl of rice, meat of some type with vegetables, a clear soup, pickles and one or two dipping sauces.

Rice features heavily in every meal as it is a multi tasking ingredient that cleverly disguises itself as different grains and varieties, noodles of all shapes and sizes, flour, rice wine and even transforms itself into paper.

We look into more detail of these essential ingredients later but here we check out food to eat on the streets and in a restaurant.