In developed countries such as the US, vegetables are expensive than those agricultural nations. For expats coming to Vietnam, our cuisine is one essential element that can attract them to experience the entire country and Vietnamese vegetable has contributed remarkably to the unique taste of our dishes.
In Vietnam, there are many types of vegetables grown throughout the year and there will be at least one that suits your taste. One reasons people love to eat vegetables is simply because they contains many healthy vitamins and nutrients.
As one of the few countries with tons of delicious dishes, the flavor and aroma of each Vietnamese vegetable makes each dish more flavorful. In this article, I will introduce for you some popular Vietnamese vegetable and the specific dishes they are usually made.
Rau Muống (Morning Glory or Water Spinach)
Water spinach is the most common vegetable in Vietnam as the tropical climate creates favorable conditions for its growth and the veggie does not require much care. It can grows easily either in water or in the ground and locals usually plant them in their gardens.
Used to be known as a rustic veggie of the poor, water spinach has become an integral ingredient in some Vietnamese cuisines such as sautéed garlic spinach. In the south, morning glory is often chopped into thin chips and eaten raw as salad or served with many kinds of noodles. For most Vietnamese, water spinach is considered as important as rice in their daily meals.
Stir-fried garlic rau muong is the most popular dish in Vietnam from the past till now. You can even find this simple dishes in 5 stars restaurants as well as most food stalls in Vietnam.
Rau Dền (Amaranth)
This is a popular vegetable used in many people’s diets. Rau Den contains many minerals and vitamins such as zinc, calcium and iron. It is a herbaceous plant, has hard roots and grew in drought. Its leave are small and reddish dark green, are often used to cook in soup with chopped ground pork or simply poached and dipped in Thit Kho (Braised Pork).
Rau Mồng Tơi (Malabar Spinach)
The color of the stem is green and purple and the shape of the leaf is a heart. The veggie seems to remind people living far away from their countries of their passed days gathering with their family members around cozy plain meals.
Malabar spinach has appeared in poems and folk verses as a symbol of a rustic attractiveness in Vietnamese little villages. The perfect combination of the veggie with crab meat, jute, and luffa creates a mouth-watering soup, a cool dish for hot days in the summer. Besides, ceylon spinach stir-fried with garlic is getting more and more popular in Vietnamese cuisine.
Rau Lang (Sweet Potato Greens)
In the summer, many people favor this Vietnamese vegetable to reduce the internal heat within the body. Besides, other benefits of rau lang are traditional cures for obesity, backache and flu. Rau lang is often made into popular dishes such as soups or poached and dipped into Kho Quet (Salty Braised Dried Shrimp Sauce).
Măng (Bamboo shoots)
Coming to Vietnam, the image of green bamboo trees surrounding rustic villages seems to be engraved in tourists’ mind as an unforgettable beauty. Not many guests know that bamboo shoots are regarded as a valuable source of food. Mang is the newly grown bamboo, commonly used as the main ingredient to cook soup with freshwater fish and tomato or stewed pork.
According to scientific research, eating bamboo shoots is one of the best ways for you to lose weight and maintain good general health as they are high in dietary fiber and vitamins as well as mineral substance. While fresh bamboo shoots are commonly used in some kinds of soups in Vietnam, its fermented state is preferred to be eaten with a lot of dishes as a kind of Vietnamese Kimchi.
Khổ Qua (Bitter Melon)
Through the name, we could certainly image how it tastes. However, the rough surface and the bitter flavor are unable to prevent Vietnamese from enjoying this veggie. Although its taste is very bitter, it has a lot of health benefits good for people with high level of cholesterol or skin irritation. So, just try it and find your answer.
Chopped bitter melon is often stir-fried with eggs, but the most favorite dish could be bitter melon soup, integral part of the menu for the summer in the south. This specialty is taken into Tet holiday menu as it is Vietnamese firm belief that sadness will pass and the happiness will come over after bitterness has been eaten.
Dưa Chuột (Cucumber)
Hardly any submarine sandwich in Vietnam does not have sliced cucumbers as the main ingredient inside. It is certainly an ideal veggie for the summer due to its mild, almost watery flavor or light melon taste. While raw cucumber is also integral part of most kinds of salads in Vietnam, pickled cucumber is another delicacy in Vietnamese cuisine.
In cooking, people often cut cucumber to eat with Kho Quet (Salty Braised Dried Shrimp Sauce) and rice. Moreover, cucumber is not only used in cooking, it is also used for facial care because it is rich in vitamin C, improves the function of the immune system, eyes and reduces body’s internal heat.