Eat well with Vietnamese

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Monday, 16 March 2009.
Tagged: eating out, fast food, healthy eating, salt, take-away

Eat well with Vietnamese

Light, delicate yet sophisticated, Vietnamese is one of the most popular South-East Asian cuisines. With its emphasis on freshness, seafood and oil-free cooking, it's also a cuisine that has much to recommend it nutritionally.

Naturally, many similarities exist with dishes from neighbouring Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Burma, all of which share the same Indo-Chinese heritage.

Recipes and cooking techniques have been adopted from the Chinese, while Indian spices appear but without the intensity of a curry.

Noodles and rice are the key staple foods enhanced with the flavours of garlic, chilli, lime, Vietnamese mint, basil and coriander.

Pork and fish are the main protein.

What sets Vietnamese cuisine apart is its subtle use of fresh herbs and spices (foodies often describe it as ‘fragrant') and the influence from French colonisation.

The Vietnamese developed a love of crusty baguettes and pates, still found in the coffee shops and restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and other major towns.

My best bets

A bowl of steaming noodle soup or pho, considered to be the national dish, makes a quick healthy winter lunch. The simmering broth holds fine rice noodles and usually some chicken or beef, topped with sprigs of coriander and chives.

It achieves its flavour from nuoc mam, a salty fish sauce more pungent than other Asian fish sauces, and side dishes of fresh Vietnamese mint, crisp bean shoots, finely-sliced chilli and quartered limes.

Nutritionally, other good choices when you look over a menu at a Vietnamese restaurant are:

  • fish balls
  • hot sour soup
  • chicken vermicelli soup
  • prawn and mint salad.

For mains, look for any of the stir-fries or mixed dishes that combine seafood, pork or chicken with vegetables.

Good choices are seafood combination or pork tossed with Asian green and fresh basil.

Salads with bean shoots, coriander, mint leaves and cold chicken or prawns are a winner too. 

Catherine Saxelby

About the Author

Catherine Saxelby has the answers! She is an accredited nutritionist, blogger and award-winning author. Her latest book Nutrition for Life  is a new update on all the things you've read or heard about. Think insects, collagen, vegan eating, Keto dieting, vitamin B12, fast food and cafe culture.  It has plenty of colour pictures and is easy to dip in and out of. Grab your copy NOW!