Vietnam is a foodie’s delight. And if you’ve been in the country for a while, you’ve most likely slurped up some bun cha in the north, chowed down on cao lau in the centre or munched on banh xeo in the south.
You couldn’t possibly get sick of these dishes – I mean come on, how delicious are they?! – but just in case, I’ve shared some other options for you to sink your teeth into.
Some are wonderful, others are just plain weird…but I recommend giving them all a go. After all, trying strange new foods is all part of the adventure, right?!
Welcome to your new Vietnamese menu.
1. Chao Vit (duck porridge)
I had this for the first time at a little riverside vendor in Hoi An. It was a pretty drizzly day and this steaming bowl, made from a duck-based broth and rice, felt like a hug for my insides.
Served out of a giant metal vat, there’s lots of time for the flavours of lime juice, fish sauce, ginger and chilli to marry. Topped off with slices of duck and crunchy beansprouts, it’s a texture and taste sensation.
Although it may not look appealing at first, trust me on this – a bowl of this hot stuff is the best way to start your day.
2. Goi Sua (jellyfish salad)
Digging into a dish of this may present you with a few questions – the most obvious being, “Will this sting me?” (It won’t). Served with a zingy and spicy papaya salad, this refreshing snack is worth the risk. If anything, it’s probably the only time you can get this close to a jellyfish without having to swim away!
3. Tiet Canh Vit (goat blood pudding)
Warning: not for squeamish stomachs!
A big ‘oul plateful of goat blood staring up at you is intimidating enough in itself, enough to churn even the hardiest of food adventurists’ tummies. It’s red. Very red. And even the delicate toppings of peanuts, shallots and lemongrass do little to deter from the shiny surface of the gelatinous top layer.
But take a deep breath, dig in, and your bravery will be rewarded. Sweet and rich, goat’s blood pudding is a delicacy for a reason. If you manage to avoid seeing yourself with reddened lips and instead focus on the massive respect you’re bound to attract from locals, it’s well worth a go.
4. Nom Hua Chuoi (banana flower salad)
After succeeding in your blood-based challenge, it might be time for something a little more gentle.
Nom Hua Chuoi is one of many great veggie dishes that you can enjoy in Vietnam and is the ideal dish for those meat-free days.
Your plate will be piled high with shredded veg and topped with a perfect balance of lime and chili. A tasty – and very pretty – meal for when you want to play it safe.
Kicking back into Adventure-land here with another Vietnamese delicacy – the humble silkworm. You’ll find them in roadside stalls and fancy eateries, roasted in salads or fried as an accompaniment to beer. It’s actually the silkworm pupae that’s used, which means they’re in the preparation phase before becoming a butterfly.
If you can cope with the sadness of preventing that from happening – and get over the unappealing beige colour – it’s worth a try. Roasted in lime leaves and served with a heap of fresh leaves, the flavours are pretty good…plus, it packs a hell of a protein punch!
6. Balut/Hot Vit Lon (fetal duck egg)
Commonly referred to as Balut across the world, and served straight out of the boiled egg after a couple of weeks’ incubation period, these duck embryos are enjoyed all over Vietnam.
Like goat’s blood porridge, it’s a challenging sight to behold on your plate. Right now it may look like a lump in an egg…but think of what it could’ve been! Not exactly a barnyard story with a happy ending.
Moral quandaries aside, balut is delicious; from the flavourful soup inside to the egg itself, (especially when mixed with a bunch of fresh veggies), it’s a breakfast worth getting up for.
Hopefully you’ve discovered some different Vietnamese foods here…and you’re willing to give them a try! Like I said, it’s all part of the adventure so why not track down at least one or two items on the list?
Don’t worry, there’ll be plenty of pho left when you’re done. 🙂
This is a guest post submitted to Food Fun Travel.
Oh, hello. I’m Emma. When I’m not weirding people out with my strange tastes I’m weirding them out with my penchant for puns. But that’s my job. I’m currently based in Hoi An and it’s a foodie’s paradise. I may never leave.