Lockdown Cravings? Here Are Five Vietnamese Recipes You Can Try At Home | Vietcetera

Lockdown Cravings? Here Are Five Vietnamese Recipes You Can Try At Home

Vietnam's tourism website lists must-try Vietnamese recipes, we collated it and added our take on these well-loved recipes.

Lockdown Cravings? Here Are Five Vietnamese Recipes You Can Try At Home

Vietnamese food is amazingly light, fresh, and healthy, and guess what, some are surprisingly easy to prepare too. | Source: Shutterstock

Before the whole pandemic craze deprived us of going out to satisfy our hunger, pulling up the little red (sometimes blue) stool to any aluminum table and letting the trà đá flow freely is a common scene to see in Vietnam, especially if you’re a fan of street food or even a mere passerby. 

Whether you’re a Vietnamese living abroad or one who is working from home in Ho Chi Minh City, authentic home meals may not always be readily available when those cravings emerge. 

Vietnamese food is amazingly light, fresh, and healthy, and guess what, some are surprisingly easy to prepare too. In their article, A Taste of Home: Vietnamese Recipes to Try, Vietnam Tourism Board lists must-try recipes anyone can cook at home. We collated the list and added some of our take on these well-loved recipes, plus detailed ingredients and instructions included.

Crispy Pancakes | Source: Shutterstock

Bánh Xèo

Crispy Pancakes 

A mix of different textures, these pancakes are usually stuffed with bean sprouts and shrimp, although some people tend to switch the latter out for pork. To eat, small portions are rolled with fresh greens and dipped with light fish sauce. Perfect for fans of interesting consistency.

Ingredients:

For batter:

  • 500g bánh xèo powder
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 pinch of turmeric powder

For stuffing:

  • 200g headless shelled shrimp
  • 200g bean sprouts
  • 1 medium onion thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • Spring onions
  • Shallots

For wrapping: 

  • 1 head of mustard green and/or lettuce
  • 1 bunch of cilantro and mint leaves
  • Shredded cucumber and carrots
  • Rice paper

For dipping sauce:

  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • Half a lime
  • Shredded carrots
  • Fresh chillies
  • Water

Instructions:

  • Prepare the dipping sauce: mix vinegar and sugar together in a bowl, season with salt and pepper. Add chillies, shredded carrots, and lime juice. Dilute to taste with water.
  • Prepare the stuffing: add diced shallots to shrimp and season. Set aside for 15 minutes.
  • Prepare the batter: mix the powder and water in a large bowl. Add coconut milk and turmeric, season and mix thoroughly.
  • Heat a large pan and add some oil.
  • Pour the batter into and quickly tilt the pan so it is evenly spread to cover the surface.
  • Cover with a lid and let the batter cook for a few minutes.
  • Spread shrimp, bean sprouts, spring onions, and stir fried onions evenly on one half of the bánh xèo.
  • Lower the heat to a medium.
  • Gently fold the bánh xèo in half once the edges become crispy.
  • Transfer the bánh xèo to a plate and serve immediately with herbs, fresh greens, rice paper, and dipping sauce.
Claypot Fish | Source: Shutterstock

Cá Kho Tộ

Claypot Fish

Synonymous with Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, fresh river fish caramelized with coconut water is a dish that takes a while to prepare but comes with results that are worthy of your tastebuds.

Ingredients:

  • 1.3 kg catfish (or any freshwater fish) sliced into thick steaks
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp granulated white sugar
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup of coconut water
  • 1 cup of water
  • Minced shallots and garlic
  • Fresh galangal, spring onions, green peppers, and chillies

Instructions:

  • Marinate the fish slices with fish sauce and 1 tbsp of sugar for at least 15 minutes.
  • Fry galangal, chillies, and green peppers in hot oil until fragrant and set aside.
  • Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet on medium-high. 
  • Add the remaining sugar into the skillet and heat until it turns amber, then immediately add shallots and garlic, saute until fragrant (20 to 30 seconds).
  • Pour the water in and reduce the sauce for 15 seconds.
  • Add the fish to a pot with coconut water and stir-fried herbs.
  • Evenly coat the fish on all sides with sauce, then cover and braise for 60 minutes.
  • Place the cooked fish, sauce and herbs in a clay pot coated with oil on the inside. Cover, foil, and bake in the oven at 170°C for 30 minutes.
  • Garnish with spring onion and chillies, serve with warm rice.
Tofu with Tomato Sauce | Source: Shutterstock

Đậu Phụ Sốt Cà

Tofu with Tomato Sauce

A dish that is reminiscent of childhood for many Vietnamese people — tofu. Fresh tofu is cooked in tangy tomato sauce and is usually served with warm rice alongside some stir-fried morning glory.

Ingredients:

  • 900g firm tofu
  • 5 chopped ripe tomatoes
  • 1 tsp fish sauce or soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup of water
  • Cooking oil
  • Garlic, shallots, spring onion, and chillies
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  • Cut the tofu blocks in half lengthwise.
  • Place a kitchen towel above and below the tofu to remove excess moisture for about 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Heat vegetable oil in a pan on medium-high heat.
  • Fry the tofu on both sides until golden brown. Then set aside the cooked tofu on paper towels to drain the excess oil.
  • Heat cooking oil in a medium skillet. Fry garlic and shallots until fragrant. 
  • Add chillies, chopped tomatoes, water, fish sauce or soy sauce, and spring onions.
  • Bring the sauce to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the tomatoes cook through and break down in the sauce.
  • Taste and season the sauce.
  • Add the fried tofu into the sauce and cook for several minutes.
  • Plate the tofu and tomato sauce in a bowl, top with spring onions and coriander.
  • Serve with warm rice and your preferred choice of vegetable.
Egg Banh Mi | Source: Shutterstock

Bánh Mì Trứng

Egg Banh Mi

The infamous Banh Mi is a common breakfast staple in Vietnam, but you can savour this meal any time throughout the day. This vegetarian option showcases crunchy cucumbers, pickled carrots and a warm, fluffy omelette. For a vegan version, simply swap the egg for marinated tofu.

Ingredients:

  • 2 loaves of bánh mì bread
  • 4 chicken eggs, or 1 block of firm tofu (vegan option)
  • 2 sliced cucumbers
  • 150g shredded carrots
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • Fresh coriander, garlic
  • Chilli sauce or fresh chilli
  • Soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  • Mix vinegar and sugar in a bowl. Add fresh chillies and shredded carrots. 
  • Rest the carrots in the sauce for 15 minutes then drain and squeeze out the excess.
  • Beat the eggs in a bowl, season with salt and pepper.
  • Heat oil in a frying pan. Pour the eggs into the pan and spread them evenly on the surface. Cook until golden brown, then flip the omelette and cook through. Set aside.
  • Slice the bánh mì bread lengthwise, insert the omelette and layer the shredded carrots, sliced cucumbers, and coriander. Add chilli or chilli sauce to taste. Drizzle with soy sauce.
  • (Vegan option: substitute the omelette for tofu) 
    • Mix soy sauce, vinegar, and crushed garlic together in a bowl.
    • Gently squeeze the tofu to remove as much moisture as possible. Then cut into thick slices. Fry in single layers in hot oil until golden on all sides.
    • Let the tofu rest for a few minutes before soaking them in the soy sauce mixture. 
    • Assemble the bánh mì with the tofu, see above.
Chicken Rice Noodles | Source: Shutterstock

Bún Thang

Chicken Rice Noodles

Native to Hanoi, you can usually find this dish along its streets on a stroll. The chicken, rice noodles, and hot broth are all combined to make a warm, hearty meal that is especially perfect for cold winter days.

Ingredients:

  • 100g dried shrimp
  • 4 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 12 cups of water
  • 1 big piece of chicken bone
  • 2 beaten chicken eggs
  • 500g chicken breast
  • 150g thinly sliced Vietnamese ham
  • 200g fresh rice noodles (bún)
  • 2 tsp shrimp paste
  • Fresh spring onions, onions, shallots, ginger, hot mint, limes, coriander, and chillies
  • Salt, pepper, and fish sauce to taste

Instructions:

  • Soak dried shrimp and mushrooms in boiling water for a few minutes. Rinse and set aside.
  • Wash the chicken thoroughly with saltwater. 
  • Boil 12 cups of water in a pot, make the broth by letting chicken bones cook for one hour. Skim any excess fat off with a ladle.
  • Add chopped shallots and onions, ginger, shrimp, mushrooms, and fish sauce to the broth. Let simmer for another hour, then season with salt and pepper.
  • Add chicken breast to the boiling broth. Cook for 25 minutes, then remove the chicken breast, cool, and shred the meat by hand into small strips.
  • Pour the beaten eggs into a hot oiled pan to make an omelette.
  • Slice the omelette into small thin strips.
  • Cook the rice noodles according to the package directions.
  • Place the noodles in a bowl and arrange all the toppings and herbs on top.
  • Pour hot broth over the noodles and season with lime, chillies and shrimp paste.