When the weather is colder, the whole country is covered by peach flower and ochna intergerrima; it is for Lunar New Year. Tet foods are the most unique and diverse Vietnamese foods that best represent and reflect the traditional cuisine. Here are the 8 traditional Vietnamese food that you definitely should try during Tet - the most important holiday for Vietnamese people.
1. Banh chung (Vietnamese Square Sticky rice cake)
This is the cake in Vietnam food culture since long time ago. According to the old legends, banh chung appeared on the Hung dynasty. This cake symbolizes the ground expressing gratitude to the ancestors and the earth, sky. Besides, it emphasizes the important role of rice and nature in water rice culture. In contrast to the fast food in modern life, the process of making banh chung is time consuming and requires the contribution of several people. Family members often take turns to keep a watch on the fire overnight, telling each other stories about Tet of past years.
Main ingredients are glutinous rice, pork meat, and mung beans wrapped in a square of bamboo leaves that will give the rice a green color after boiling. The sticky rice must be very good and was soaked in water in the previous day. Rice cake is wrapped in square shape, and the wrapping power must be neither tight nor loose. Then the cake will be boiled in about 12 hours by wood. It has nutrition with an original tasty flavor and may be kept for a long time. Eating banh chung with vegetable pickles will bring you unforgettable taste.
2. Gio cha (Vietnamese sausage)
Gio cha is another common item on the traditional Tet menu and is often eaten with starchy food. Like banh chung, Vietnamese sausage is wrapped in banana leaves and needs to be unwrapped before consumption. There are three common kinds of this sausage including gio lua (sausage made of ground pork, first class fish sauce and black pepper), gio bo (made of purred beef) and gio thu (made of pork meat, ear, nose, tongue, cheek, and wood ear mushrooms). The mix of ingredients are boiled or steamed carefully. The roll is cut into pieces and serve cold. This type of food is also used as fillings of Vietnamese sandwich, sticky rice or banh chung…
3. Thit kho trung (Vietnamese Braised Pork with Eggs)
Pork is cut into cubes and soak in garlic, fish sauce, sugar, and coconut water. The eggs are used in this dish because it symbolizes the goodness and happiness. Eggs are hard-boiled and peeled. The pork and peeled hard-boiled eggs are cooked in a pot for a few hours, then served with vegetable pickles.
4. Mut (Candied Fruits)
Mut is an indispensable treat during the Lunar New Year Festival. Everyone prepares a box of colorful candied fruits at home to give visitors, gift to friends and family, and offer to ancestors. A typical guest would much on a candy and roasted watermelon seeds and drink a few cups of tea. Children enjoy the candied fruits as little snacks.
5. Melon seeds
Ever had roasted melon seeds? They go perfectly with a cup of tea. To eat them, you use your front teeth and dig out the tasty centre. It’s a bit of work, but you’re with friends, so there’s no hurry.
6. Vegetables soup with pork skin (Canh Bong)
Every meal in Vietnam includes a shared bowl of soup and Tet meals are no exceptions. During Tet, people from across the country often go for a frugal and hot bowl of vegetables soup with pork skin. The vegetables selection often includes broccolis, cauliflowers, carrots, mushrooms and peas, added with young shrimps and some meatballs.
The broth is slightly sweetened with braised meat bones. Ingredients are plenty but the only one thing that can’t be left out is the pork skin. Though its flavor is very light, the pork skin gives joy to eaters by how its scabrous surface felt inside the mouth when being chewed.
7. Five-fruit tray (Mam Ngu Qua)
The five-fruit tray is a must-have on the altar during Tet. The exact selection varies through time, region, and even the house owner’s preference. However, they must be of a different color as the five-fruit tray also plays an important role in decoration for Tet.
In Northern Vietnam, popular choices are orange, banana, pomelo, green apple, pear and the “Buddha’s hand” fruit. Meanwhile, in Southern Vietnam, where some of those fruits are not available due to a hotter climate, people often choose watermelon, papaya, mango, pineapple, coconut or dragon fruit.
8. Pickled onion, pickled cabbage and pickled small leeks (Dua Hanh & Kieu)
Although not every people in Vietnam is able to eat these pickled things, they are still an unquestionably one of the essential foods during Tet. This can be proved in this following famous traditional couplet about Tet: Thịt mỡ, dưa hành, câu đối đỏ Cây nêu, tràng pháo, bánh chưng xanh literally translated as below: Fatty meat, pickled onions and cabbage, red couplets Neu tree, firecracker, green banh chung.
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