When speaking of Vietnamese food, most everyone has heard of (and perhaps already tried) those well-known and well-loved specialties such as Vietnamese spring rolls and Pho. But just like any other cuisine in the world, Vietnamese cuisine has a lot more surprises in store for everyone, but most especially the intrepid yet decidedly selective eater.
Vietnamese dishes are generally known for being healthy and wholesome (and spicy as well!). That being said, below are some little-known Vietnamese specialties that are no less delicious than their more well-known and famous counterparts. And if you ever chance to come across these specialties, whether in Vietnam itself or on a London high street, do yourself a favour and give them a try - you surely won't regret it!
Caramelised fish or Ca Kho To
In Asia, particularly Southeast Asia, clay pots have been a standard element in cooking for years. The beauty about clay pots is that, similar to a Dutch oven, the clay pot's walls are quick to retain warmth and heat as well as moisture, which seals in the juices of anything being cooked within. In Vietnam, as in most of Asia, particularly in the rural areas, clay pots are still used today, especially for dishes like Ca Kho To, a Vietnamese specialty that is comprised of caramelised fish. The fish has a very distinct and delicious flavour from a combination of fish sauce and sugar, which, in turn, gives it its glazed, caramelised exterior that is classic Vietnamese comfort food.
Banh Tet, also referred to as Banh Chung, is simply rice cakes with morsels of meat and mung beans which are packed in parcels made from banana leaves. Banh Tet is most popular during a special time of year: Tet, which is the celebration of the lunar New Year in Vietnam. In the Tet festival, everyone makes an effort - purchasing new clothes, refurbishing their abodes and painting walls, and basically cleaning everything in sight. Along with this comes the making of Banh Tet, which are not only consumed by everyone - they are also placed as offerings in front of Vietnamese ancestors in their altars.
As you may have noticed, Banh is a common term in Vietnamese cuisine, but it would be wise to know the difference from the different â€˜Banhs' - because they are, indeed, quite different. Banh Xeo is another Vietnamese food classic that is also referred to as a sizzling or scorching pancake. But unlike pancakes in the western style, which are often sweet, Banh Xeo is actually savoury and made from a combination of coconut milk or cream, rice flour, and turmeric, a famous yellow spice. Banh Xeo is distinguished by its yellow colouring (due to the turmeric), and its crispy yet soft interior that is similar to a crepe. The Banh Xeo is fried in a pan together with other ingredients like shrimp, pork, and bean sprouts. Once done, it is eaten wrapped up with herbs and lettuce.
As everyone knows, Vietnamese food is not only healthy, but delicious and intensely flavourful as well. Those who are looking for something new and something outside the norm and would like nothing more than to satisfy their palates and taste buds can easily find the Vietnamese food they are looking for in a Vietnamese restaurant in London like VietEat, which also offers a special to-go menu consisting of some famous Vietnamese specialties such as Pho, Bun Hue, salads, Banh Mi, and a lot more.