A rich and flavourful mix of savoury and sweet are characteristics that sum up Vietnamese food. Rice, fruit, vegetables, sugarcane, coconuts and livestock are the country’s basic ingredients and together they create a cuisine that is as diverse as it is healthy. Seeing in the New Year in style is very important to the Vietnamese and food plays a vital part in this new-life celebration. Here are just five of the Vietnamese foods that friends and families enjoy as they get together to see in the New Year.
The 5 key foods for Vietnamese New Year
- Tet cakes These glutinous rice cakes symbolise prosperity in the coming year. While there are different types of tet cakes, a popular version in South Vietnam is the savoury Banh tet ngot where glutinous rice is mixed with coconut milk then filled with black mung beans and banana and wrapped in banana leaves. Preparing this time-consuming delicacy is a way for families to come together during the festive season.
- Pickled scallion heads with dried shrimp Pickled vegetables are very popular right across Vietnam. Although this rustic dish looks simple it takes time to prepare and preparation starts in mid-December when the scallions are bought. They are soaked, exposed to the sun, layered in jars with sugar and left to ferment for 10 days. This sweet dish is then served with salty dried shrimp on top.
- Pork braised with eggs and coconut water A giant pot of pork and eggs braised in coconut water and left simmering on the stove is enough to feed even the largest family and their guests as they see in the New Year. Fatty pork belly is marinated with spices and fish sauce and cooked in coconut water until tender. Then whole boiled eggs are added. The dish works perfectly with the pickled scallion heads.
- Bitter melon stuffed with meat soup The bitter flavour of this dish has a spiritual element that washes away the trials of the previous year, giving a calm start to the new one. Bitter melons are stuffed with shredded meat and cooked in a meat broth.
- Red sticky rice A tower of sticky rice is given a distinctive red colour by the fruit added to it. According to Vietnamese belief, red signifies good fortune. It’s the perfect accompaniment to Vietnamese sausage or your braised pork.
Celebrate Vietnamese New Year in Singapore
While we can’t guarantee that the Vietnamese restaurants in Singapore will have your favourite New Year dishes on the menu, we can guarantee that they will deliver delicious and healthy food not only during the festive season but right through the year. Among our favourite Vietnamese restaurants in Singapore are Pho Street (The Centrepoint), Pho Viet (which does serve pork stew with eggs!) and Saigon Bistro.