Vietnamese pork dishes should be a part of your Vietnamese food for a complete and authentic Vietnam travel experience. There is a wide range of options for all types of palates. In this guide, we will go through 11 popular Vietnamese pork dishes. Read on to find out what they are and why they are so loved.
1. Vietnamese caramelized pork belly (Thit kho tau)
Vietnamese caramelized pork belly, known as "thịt kho tàu," is a mouthwatering dish that combines tender chunks of pork belly with a rich, sweet, and savory sauce.
To make this delicious dish, you will need ingredients like pork belly, fish sauce, sugar, garlic, and shallots. First, the pork belly is sliced into bite-sized pieces and seared until golden brown. Then, a luscious sauce is created by caramelizing sugar and adding fish sauce, garlic, and shallots. The seared pork is then simmered in this sauce until it becomes tender and the flavors meld together. The finished South Vietnam dish features glistening, dark caramelized pork pieces with a balance of sweet and salty flavors. It is typically served with steamed white rice.
2. Jellied meat (Thit dong) - Famous Vietnamese pork recipe during Tet
Jellied meat, or "thịt đông" in Vietnamese, is a unique dish that combines various cuts of pork with gelatinous pork skin. The pork is simmered for an extended period with seasonings until it becomes tender and flavorful. As it cools, the natural gelatin in the pork skin causes the broth to set, giving the dish its signature jelly-like texture.
Thit dong is traditionally served chilled and sliced thinly, revealing layers of tender meat and translucent jelly. It boasts a delicate, savory flavor, and it is often enjoyed with a side of dipping sauce made from lime juice, chili, and salt on Vietnamese New Year.
3. Vietnamese grilled pork with vermicelli (Bun cha)
Bun Cha, a famous Vietnamese food in Hanoi, features succulent grilled pork served with vermicelli noodles and an array of fresh herbs and vegetables. The dish's star is the marinated and grilled pork, which is typically flavored with ingredients that create a perfect balance of sweet and savory and cooked over an open flame to achieve a smoky char.
Served alongside the grilled meat are rice vermicelli noodles, fresh lettuce, herbs, and pickled carrots and daikon. Diners typically assemble their own bowls by combining these elements, dipping the grilled pork into a tangy and slightly sweet fish sauce-based broth. The result is a harmonious blend of flavors and textures, with the freshness of herbs and vegetables balancing the richness of the grilled pork.
4. Boiled pork belly (Thit luoc) - One of the popular Vietnamese pork dishes
Boiled pork belly is a simple yet satisfying dish that showcases the natural flavors of the meat. To prepare this dish, pork belly is simmered gently in a pot of water with minimal seasoning, often just a touch of salt. This preserves the inherent tenderness of the pork while allowing its natural flavors to shine. Once the pork is tender and fully cooked, it is sliced into thin, succulent pieces.
Thit luoc, often eaten as dinner in Vietnam, is served with a dipping sauce made from fish sauce, lime juice, garlic, and chili, adding a burst of savory, tangy, and spicy notes to each bite. Its simplicity allows for the melt-in-your-mouth goodness of the pork to be savored, making it a comfort food appreciated by many.
5. Vietnamese pork chops served with broken rice (Com tam suon nuong)
Com tam suon nuong features grilled pork chops served with fragrant broken rice. The dish starts with pork chops marinated in a mixture of ingredients like garlic, fish sauce, and sugar. The chops are then grilled, resulting in a mouthwatering smokiness and a slightly caramelized exterior.
Vietnamese broken rice is so named because it is made from fractured rice grains, giving it a unique texture. This rice is served alongside the succulent pork chops, creating a delightful contrast in textures. The dish is often garnished with pickled vegetables, fresh herbs, and a drizzle of fish sauce-based dressing.
6. Vietnamese pork mince in tomato sauce (Thit bam sot ca chua)
Thit bam sot ca chua is a comforting dish that showcases the Vietnamese love for balancing sweet and savory flavors. Ground pork is cooked with a tomato-based sauce that incorporates a harmonious blend of ingredients, such as garlic, onions, fish sauce, and sugar. The result is a rich and slightly tangy sauce that beautifully complements the savory, tender pork mince.
This dish is often served with steaming hot white rice, allowing the flavors of the sauce to meld with the rice grains. The appeal of this dish lies in its simplicity and the depth of flavors it achieves through the careful balance of ingredients.
7. Vietnamese pork ear salad (Goi tai heo)
Goi tai heo is an appetizing Vietnamese salad. Thinly sliced pork ears are first boiled to achieve a tender texture and then thinly sliced. These are combined with a medley of fresh herbs, vegetables, and aromatic ingredients like lime juice, fish sauce, chili, and garlic.
The result is a refreshing and zesty salad with a pleasing balance of textures, from the tender pork ear to the crisp vegetables. Goi tai heo offers a contrast in taste and texture and is often enjoyed as an appetizer or a refreshing side dish.
8. Fermented pork (Nem chua) - Among the must-try Vietnamese pork dishes
This is a type of fermented pork dish that blends sweet, sour, and savory flavors. To prepare, ground pork is mixed with garlic, sugar, salt, fish sauce, and chili, then wrapped in fig or banana leaves to ferment for several days.
Once it reaches the desired level of fermentation, the pork is sliced into small, bite-sized portions. Nem chua is often enjoyed as an appetizer or a side dish. It is particularly popular during the Lunar New Year. Some people eat it with chili sauce, while others dip it in spicy fish sauce.
9. Nem lui - Ground pork grilled on lemongrass skewers
Nem lui is another Vietnamese dish that always appears in the top Vietnam food lists. To create it, ground pork is mixed with garlic, shallots, sugar, fish sauce, and black pepper. The mixture is then shaped onto lemongrass stalks, which impart their fragrant citrus notes to the pork during grilling.
As the skewers sizzle over an open flame, the pork caramelizes, taking on a delightful smokiness and a slightly charred exterior. Diners often wrap the grilled pork in rice paper, along with herbs and other accompaniments, creating a fresh and flavorful roll.
10. Khau nhuc - One of the Vietnamese pork loin recipes
Another unique dish is “khâu nhục”, a delicious traditional Vietnamese food originating in Lang Son. The preparation of this dish involves marinating delicate pork loin slices in an aromatic blend, often featuring honey, soy sauce, and a medley of dried spices.
Khau nhuc holds a special place in local customs, gracing the tables of weddings, funerals, and longevity celebrations within the diverse ethnic minority communities. When presented, it takes on the appearance of an inverted basket, with intricately woven strips of pork loin as the star of the dish.
11. Vietnamese crispy pork belly (Thit heo quay)
This dish begins with thick slices of pork belly, meticulously scored and treated with a flavorful marinade, typically composed of ingredients like garlic, five-spice powder, salt, and sugar. Afterward, the pork is roasted at high temperatures, allowing the skin to transform into an incredibly crispy exterior.
The contrast between the crispy skin and the succulent, melt-in-your-mouth meat is the hallmark of thit heo quay's appeal. Often served with rice or as a component of various Vietnamese dishes, this dish is an indulgent favorite in Vietnamese cuisine.
So, now you know the top Vietnamese pork dishes, but where can you enjoy them? They are served all over Vietnam, including the top tourist destinations like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Phu Quoc, Nha Trang, Hoi An, and Ha Long.
At these places, you can stay at Vinpearl hotels and resorts for spacious and fully equipped rooms. They also have amazing built-in dining options where you can try many of the Vietnamese pork dishes mentioned above. After a culinary adventure, you can check into VinWonders for entertainment opportunities, including rides, shows, and more!
There are many delicious Vietnamese pork dishes that you can try when you visit Vietnam. From comforting ones like caramelized pork belly to unique ones like jellied meat, there is no shortage of options for all types of palates. If you are craving something crunchy, go for Vietnamese crispy pork belly, and if you just want a light dish to fill your tummy, you can consider Vietnamese pork ear salad or ground pork grilled on lemongrass skewers. Or try all 11 Vietnamese pork dishes for a complete experience!