What Makes Vietnamese Food Different from Chinese or Japanese Food
Most people clump all types of “Asian” food in one category–but that’s just simply wrong.
Look, China, Vietnam, Japan, Korea, Thailand…they all have their own unique and individual cultures.
Sure, they may be related and they may have influenced one-another in the past, but they still stand very much apart from one another.
That goes doubly for their food.
Interesting Tidbit on Food Influence:
Culinary tradition is as much a product of geography as it is of history.
Vietnamese cooking has always differed from that of Chinese cooking because the climates of the two countries are very dissimilar.
Vietnam boast four seasons in the north but only two in the tropical south. In Vietnam there can be found spices and herbs and ingredients that are not native to any other part of the world.
In fact, Vietnam is the original home of both the modern domesticated chicken and modern strains of rice (which can be harvest twice a year)–they originated in Vietnam first and then spread to the rest of the world. Thanks Vietnam!
So geography gave ancient Vietnamese chefs all sorts of fresh flavors to add to their dishes—think Basil and lemongrass as obvious examples (but there are SO many more).
But that’s not all…
Throughout history ideas, techniques, and items were brought to Vietnam by travelers, invaders, and traders. The Chinese, Japanese, Kmer, and Thai all had close proximity and varying amounts of trade or other interactoin with Vietnam. The French colonized Vietnam for over a hundred years, bringing a European cookbook—so to speak—to the Vietnamese.
From this special blend of geography and history were born our favorite dishes like Pho and Bún Thịt Nướng (Vietnamese noodle bow).
And something more important—balance.
Where Vietnamese Food Really Stands Out:
Many culinary identites go to the extreme in their use of a particular ingredient whether that ingredient is a spice or a spiciness level, a type of carbohydrate base, or even a particular cooking tecnique.
Some cooking styles are just too oily or greasy. Others go overkill with the soy sauce, sugar, or that mysterious brown sauce. (We’re not knocking it!)
Vietnam, on the other hand, has learned to balance all these parts of cooking so that you can enjoy layers of flavors that are all working together.
Does Vietnamese cooking use soy sauce? Yes—and we think you’ll find it better than the other styles.
But you’ll find so many other ingredients in play as well. From ginger and garlic and onion bases to lemongrass and basil and other fresh herbs…all the way to bone broth soups, saute, and fresh bowls…
You’ll find that:
Vietnamese stirfry is savory but not salty.
Vietnamese soup is well rounded with ingredients that compliment one another.
Vietnamese cooking incorporates both hot and ‘fresh’ dishes.
If we had to sum it up with a one simple comparison it’d be this: Vietnamese food is the BMW of Asian food: the ultimate eating experience.
But, if you want to really understand what sets Vietnamese food apart, the best thing to do is to try it for yourself.
Or, if you’d like to learn a little bit more before you dive in, try this: