Food Terms

Vietnamese Food Terms



Ban Cuon                               A variation on the Chinese Dim Sum (steamed filled dumplings), where only the dough is steamed then filled. The dough is made into a ball from rice flour and water then rubbed over a cheesecloth tautly stretched over a pot of boiling water. As the steam cooks the ‘wrapper’, it is pulled off, rolled up with a minced filling of pork, shrimp, mushrooms and onions then dipped in hot sauce before being eaten. Commonly made and served by street vendors or at market stalls.


Banh Hoi Nem Chua            Cooked rice noodles served with raw pork.


Banh Hoi Tom                       Cooked rice noodles served with lobster.


Banh Trang                            Rice-paper wrappers made from rice flour, water and salt. These are moistened in warm water then quickly filled to be fried, or used uncooked as wrappers for slivers of meat or fish and fresh herbs. Usually dipping sauces are provided for the diners.


Ca-Kho                                   Raw fish.


Ca Ran Chua Ngot                A special main dish of quickly fried whole fish served with a delicate sweet and sour sauce touched lightly with chilies and onions, nuoc mam, vinegar, and sugar. The stir-fried slivered tiger lily buds, mushrooms and scallions form the garnish.


Cha Gio                                  The general name for wrapped tidbits of fish, seafood, vegetables, which are eaten as is after being dipped in various sauces or which may be deep-fried in their wrappers (as when using rice-paper wrappers). The finger-sized rolls may be served as appetizers or as art of a meal.


Hu-Tien                                  A broth with noodles often served as a hot satisfying breakfast dish.


Mang Tay Nau Cua               Soup based on chicken stock with crab meat and asparagus and mushroom pieces. The soup is thickened with cornstarch and served garnished with slivers of scallions and crumbled hard egg yolk.


Micha Trong Kroeuny          Strips of plaice fillets dusted with rice flour and briefly browned in fat then lightly cooked in a spicy sauce of garlic, scallions, chilies, and Nuoc Mam.


MienGa                                 Light, flavorful chicken broth (fat-free), served with cellophane noodles and thinly slivered scallions to garnish.


Mut                                         A sticky sweet candy that can be prepared from fruits, vegetables, or seeds cooked in syrup until translucent.


Nonhchon                             The short grain rice preferred by the South Vietnamese.


Nems                                      Deep-fried pastry-wrapped delicacies very similar to Chinese egg rolls and eaten after being dipped into Nuoc Man or Nuoc Cham.


Nuoc Cham                           To the basic Nuoc Mam the cook adds chilies, black pepper, cayenne, scallions, onions, garlic to taste in order to produce a fiery hot sauce, Nuoc Cham to the diner’s liking.


Nuoc Leo                               A peanut dipping sauce made by mixing Nuoc Mam with chicken broth and Hoisin Sauce then garnishing with slivers of chilies, garlic and crushed roasted peanuts.


Nuoc Mam                            The single most important sauce of Vietnamese cuisine. It is prepared (mostly commercially) by layering fish and salt in barrels and allowing them to ferment. The first liquid that oozes off naturally is considered to be of high quality. The liquid that results after pressing the fermented mixture is stronger in color, flavor and odor and is considered to be of lower quality. This sauce is as common as salt and pepper is to the western table. No dish is complete without at least a little Nuoc Mam, but each dier adds more, according to taste.


Pho                                         The only Vietnamese dish that is served in individual portions. All other dishes are served in dishes to be shared at the table. Lengthy cooking and careful seasoning produces the beef or chicken broth that is poured over cooked noodles. The shredded meat of your choice is arranged on top. Each diner adds fresh green herbs, garlic and chilies. Sauces are served in tiny side dishes for dipping meat slivers with chopsticks. A porcelain soup spoon may be used to aid the delivery of slippery noodles to the mouth.


Tamthom               the long grain white rice preferred by the North Vietnamese.


Thit-Kho                 pork. The preferred meat, eaten frequently by the upper class, often by the middle class, and almost never by the poorer class.


Vietnamese Herbs


Picture Vietnamese name English name Description
 Banana Blossom Bắp chuối Banana blossom
 Vietnamese Water Spinach      
Rau muống Vietnamese water spinach
Ngũ vị hương Five spices
Ớt bột Chili flakes
Quế Cinnamon
Tương ớt Chili sauce
Dầu hào Oyster sauce
Mắm dưa Special sauce made from different kinds of pickles popular in central Vietnam
Mắm nêm Anchovy fish sauce Made from fermented anchovy fish, pineapple, garlic, chilli. Widely used in Danang dishes.
Nước chấm Dipping sauce
Nước mắm Fish sauce
Bánh canh Similar to Japanese udon, made from rice flour, wheat flour or rice starch
Bún Rice vermicelli
Miến Glass vermicelli/noodle
Phở Rice noodle
Bột bắp Corn starch
Bột gạo Rice flour
Bột mì Wheat flour
Bột năng Tapioca starch
Bột nếp Glutinous rice flour
Bún Vermicelli noodle soup
Cháo Porridge/congee
Chả Vietnamese sausage many types: ground pork, beef, fish, etc. Poached or grilled.
Cơm Rice
Lẩu Hot pot
Xôi Sticky rice
Chiên Fry
Hầm Boil over long period
Hấp Steam
Kho Stew, braise
Luộc Boil
Om Clay pot cooking
Nướng Grill
Quay Roast
Rim Simmer
Xào Stir fry
Ướp Marinate