Vietnamese vegetables are renowned for their high quality, freshness, and variety and are an essential component of the country's culinary scene. With such a strong emphasis on nutritious fresh produce, it's no surprise that Vietnamese dishes are gaining popularity among health-conscious foodies around the world. Let’s enhance your Vietnam travel with the ultimate guides to our vegetable cuisines!
1. Beansprouts (Gia do) - A common ingredient for Vietnamese vegetable rolls
Beansprout is a beloved ingredient in Vietnam, where it is commonly used in Vietnamese vegetable rolls, noodle soups, and nom (Vietnamese traditional salad). Additionally, it is a key ingredient in canh chua, a tamarind sour soup, where it is paired with other vegetables such as okra and tomato.
This Vietnamese vegetable is not only delicious but also incredibly nutritious. It is a great source of vitamins and protein while being low in calories. Moreover, beansprouts have been linked to numerous health benefits, such as promoting longevity, reducing anxiety caused by stress, and improving conditions related to genital deformity, eyesight, and the immune system.
2. Malabar Spinach/Vietnamese Spinach (Rau mong toi)
Rau mong toi (Malabar spinach), one of the most popular vegetables in Vietnam, stands out with its distinctive green stem and heart-shaped leaves. Malabar spinach is a key ingredient in many Vietnamese veggie recipes and can be enjoyed in various dishes. Whether it's the classic poached malabar spinach or the comforting malabar spinach soup, this veggie is a favorite among Vietnamese cuisine enthusiasts.
Malabar spinach is more than just a tasty addition to your meals. It's also packed with health benefits! Studies have shown that consuming malabar spinach can help reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis and lower cholesterol levels in people with diabetes. Additionally, its soft texture and sweet taste make it an ideal green for kids who are picky eaters.
3. Bamboo Shoot (Mang)
Bamboo shoots are a beloved ingredient in Vietnamese vegetable recipes, available in sour, sweet, and bitter varieties. It can be used in a range of cooking methods, whether you're stir-frying them with pork or vermicelli, using them in some traditional Vietnamese vegetable noodle soups such as duck soup or bone stew. The unique and delicious flavor bamboo shoots add to any dish is sure to delight your taste buds.
In addition to their versatility and flavor, bamboo shoots are also a common sight in highland regions like Ha Giang and Lao Cai. You can often find locals selling them along the roadside or at the market, making them a special dish and a defining feature of the highlands.
4. Beet Greens (Rau Den) - Among the most nutritious Vietnamese vegetables
Rau den (Beet greens) is a nutrient powerhouse, containing essential vitamins and minerals such as zinc, calcium, and iron. This herbaceous plant is known for its hardy roots and ability to thrive in drought conditions. Its small, dark green leaves with a hue of red are often used to add flavor and depth to soups, either paired with chopped ground pork or poached and dipped in braised pork.
Not only are beet greens delicious and nutritious, but they are also incredibly flexible. Whether you're looking to add some extra flavor to your soups or want to experiment with different cooking methods, this vegetable is sure to deliver. With its unique flavor and impressive nutrient profile, it's a vegetable that's sure to impress.
5. Cabbage (Cai bap)
Vietnamese cuisine boasts a diverse range of cabbage varieties. Each type of cabbage has a unique shape and nutritional profile, making it a versatile and healthy addition to any meal.
Despite their differences, all types of cabbage share a common trait: their bright green color and numerous health benefits. Whether you prefer to boil, stir-fry, or use them in a hot pot, cabbages can be enjoyed in a variety of dishes.
If you have the chance to travel to Vietnam, be sure to try some of the delicious dishes featuring these vegetables. From soup cooked with minced meat to fried cabbage, boiled cabbage, sauteed cabbage with steamed broccoli, and kimchi, there's no shortage of ways to enjoy the many benefits of Vietnamese cabbage.
6. Morning Glory (Rau muong) - One of the most popular Vietnamese green vegetables
When it comes to Vietnamese green vegetables, it's impossible not to mention morning glory. This vegetable is grown and harvested year-round, making it a staple in many Vietnamese households.
The plant is easily recognizable by its long structure and funnel-shaped leaves, and it can thrive in both terrestrial and aquatic environments. The simplest way to prepare this vegetable is by boiling it and serving it with soy sauce or fish sauce. Additionally, the boiled water can be used with lemon juice to make a refreshing soup.
The popular veggie can also be prepared in numerous ways, such as in salads or stir-fried with garlic or beef. However, individuals with gout, hypertension, or osteoarthropathy are advised against consuming this vegetable.
7. Mustard Greens (Cai xanh)
Mustard greens (Cai xanh) are a popular vegetable in Vietnam that can be consumed both raw and cooked. It is highly nutritious and rich in vitamins A, C, and K, as well as minerals like calcium, iron, and potassium.
Pickled vegetables are a staple in Vietnam, and one of the most beloved varieties is pickled mustard greens, known as dua cai chua. To prepare this dish, the mustard greens are first washed and cut into bite-sized pieces, then mixed with salt and left to ferment for several days in a jar or other container. The resulting pickle is tangy, crunchy, and slightly spicy and is often served as a condiment alongside main dishes like grilled meat or fried rice.
8. Bok Choy (Cai thia)
Bok choy, also known as Cai thia, is a leafy green vegetable that is a staple ingredient in many traditional dishes. Its crisp texture and mild flavor make it a great addition to many dishes, and its health benefits make it a popular choice for health-conscious eaters.
One popular way to prepare bok choy in Vietnam is to stir-fry it with garlic and oyster sauce. The tender leaves and crunchy stems of the bok choy are the perfect complements to the savory and slightly sweet sauce. This dish is one of the most commonly served Vietnamese vegetable side dishes in restaurants.
9. Kale (Cai xoan) - A popular Vietnamese vegetable for detox smoothies
Kale, known for its high nutritional value, is not a common ingredient in traditional Vietnamese cuisine. However, as the popularity of healthy eating has grown in Vietnam, kale has become more widely available and is now used in a variety of dishes.
Kale is known as "Cai xoan" in Vietnamese, and it is most commonly used in salads, stir-fries, and soups. One popular way to prepare kale in Vietnam is to blend it with other fruits and vegetables to create healthy and refreshing smoothies. Some cafes in Vietnam even offer kale chips as a snack, which are made by baking kale leaves until crispy. With its high fiber, vitamins, and minerals, kale is a nutritious addition to any meal or snack.
10. Crown Daisy (Cai cuc)
Crown daisy, also known as “Cai cuc”, is commonly eaten raw in salads or used as a garnish, but it can also be cooked in stir-fries, soups, and stews. Crown daisy has a slightly bitter and sweet flavor, similar to that of spinach or arugula, and is rich in vitamins A, C, and K, as well as iron and calcium.
In Vietnam, crown daisy is often used in hotpot dishes, where it is added to a pot of boiling broth along with other meats, vegetables, and noodles. It is also used in traditional dishes like crown daisy soup (canh cai cuc), which is a simple and nourishing soup made with crown daisy, tofu, and pork.
In addition to its culinary uses, crown daisy has medicinal properties in Vietnamese traditional medicine. It is believed to have cooling properties and is often used to treat fever, sore throats, and respiratory infections.
11. Choy Sum (Cai lan)
Choy sum is a favored ingredient in various Vietnamese soups, known for its subtle bitterness and long-lasting sweetness. Typically, this veggie is dipped into hotpot broth to elevate the dish's flavor. Beyond hotpots, choy sum is a versatile vegetable that can be enjoyed raw in salads, stir-fried with beef or mushrooms, or boiled as a simple side dish.
It's worth noting that the vegetable should be washed thoroughly before cooking, given that many Vietnamese farmers use different types of pesticides in their cultivation. Despite this precaution, choy sum remains a popular and nutritious ingredient in Vietnamese cuisine, with a rich vitamin A, C, and K content, as well as calcium and iron.
12. Jute Vegetable (Rau day) - Among the TOP 20 most common Vietnamese vegetables
In Vietnamese cuisine, jute vegetable is commonly used in soups, particularly those made with fish, crab, and shrimp, to add a unique slimy texture and flavor to the dish.
Additionally, jute is believed to have numerous health benefits, such as aiding in the prevention of sickness and constipation. In traditional Vietnamese medicine, it is used to treat various ailments due to its high fiber content and potential anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
13. Katuk (Rau ngot)
Katuk, which is also known as Rau ngot, is a small-sized veggie that grows wild in many Vietnamese countryside areas. Local farmers often harvest it to use as the main ingredient in soup and traditional medicinal preparations.
If you're looking for delicious Vietnamese vegetable soup recipes to share with your loved ones, try the katuk soup. Made with a delightful blend of fresh and sweet ingredients, including shrimp and ground pork, it's sure to be a hit with your family and friends.
However, it's worth noting that those with low blood pressure should avoid consuming katuk due to its potent cooling effect on the body.
14. Banana Flower (Bap chuoi)
Banana flower, also known as Bap chuoi, is a common ingredient in Vietnamese cuisine. In Vietnam, banana flowers are often used in salads, soups, and stir-fries. They are rich in antioxidants and contain high levels of dietary fiber, making them a healthy addition to any meal.
In Vietnamese cuisine, banana flowers are often paired with other fresh vegetables to create light and refreshing salads. One popular Vietnamese vegetable salad recipe is a combination of thinly sliced banana flower, cabbage, carrot, and onion with a zesty dressing of fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, minced garlic, and sliced chili. The result is a delicious and nutritious salad that highlights the unique flavor and texture of banana flowers.
15. Kohlrabi (Su hao)
Kohlrabi (Su hao) is a vegetable that thrives in colder weather, making it readily available in local markets and food stores throughout Vietnam. This vegetable is perfect for a variety of recipes, including the classic stir-fry with carrots and pork. With a low amount of fat and cholesterol, kohlrabi is an excellent choice for those with heart and circulatory system issues, providing numerous health benefits.
In addition, kohlrabi is also a popular ingredient in Vietnamese pickled vegetables, adding a unique and tangy flavor to this beloved dish. Whether you're stir-frying or pickling this vegetable, it's a delicious and nutritious addition to any meal.
16. Best Vietnamese vegetables? Chayote (Su su)
Chayote, also known as Su su, is a common vegetable in Vietnamese cuisine. It can be eaten raw or cooked and pairs well with seafood, meat, and other vegetables. One popular dish in Vietnam is "su su nhoi thit," which is stuffed chayote with minced meat and various spices.
If you're interested in growing your own chayote, the seeds of this Vietnamese vegetable can be found online or at specialty seed shops. Chayote is a fast-growing vine that requires warm temperatures and plenty of sunlight. It's a low-maintenance plant that is easy to grow and can produce an abundance of plants in a short period of time.
17. Winter melon (Bi dao)
Winter melon, also known as bi dao, is a versatile vegetable that complements a variety of other ingredients, such as meats, seafood, and giblets, making it a perfect addition to any Vietnamese vegetable stir fry.
When selecting a winter melon, look for one that is heavy for its size and has a firm, unblemished skin. The winter melon has a mild, sweet flavor and a soft, almost spongy texture when cooked.
18. Lettuce (Xa lach)
Among Vietnamese vegetables and herbs, lettuce is the most common when it comes to wraps or rolls. One popular dish with lettuce is "banh xeo," which is a crispy pancake filled with pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts, and wrapped in lettuce leaves.
Lettuce is also used as a bed for grilled meats such as beef or chicken, and is often served with fresh herbs and a dipping sauce. It provides a refreshing and crunchy contrast to the tender meat and bold flavors of the herbs and sauce.
19. Potato (Khoai tay) - An essential ingredient for Vietnamese vegetable curry
Potatoes, or "khoai tay" in Vietnamese, are a good source of carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and vitamins such as vitamin C and vitamin B6. They are also low in fat and calories, making them a healthy addition to any meal.
Potatoes are used in a variety of dishes, including Vietnamese vegetable curry. This hearty and flavorful dish is made with a variety of vegetables, spices, and coconut milk. Potatoes are an essential ingredient as they add a creamy texture and help to thicken the curry. They also absorb the flavors of the spices, making them a delicious and satisfying part of the dish.
Potatoes also go well with some common Vietnamese root vegetables, like ginger, daikon, and lotus root, which together make a great soup to warm your body.
20. Pennywort (Rau ma)
Pennywort (Rau ma) is used for both culinary and medicinal purposes. In Vietnam, it is often used fresh in salads, soups, and stir-fries, where it adds a refreshing and slightly bitter flavor. The herb is also used to make pennywort juice, a popular drink in Vietnam that is believed to have health benefits such as improving blood circulation and reducing inflammation.
Pennywort is also used in traditional Vietnamese medicine to treat a variety of ailments. It is believed to have antioxidant properties and is commonly used to treat skin conditions, fevers, and digestive issues. In addition, pennywort is believed to have a calming effect on the nervous system and can be used to alleviate stress and anxiety.
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Vietnamese vegetables offer a wide variety of flavorful and nutritious options. Whether you are a foodie or simply looking to expand your culinary horizons, trying the Vietnamese veggie recipes is a must. With its healthy and diverse vegetable-centric dishes, Vietnam offers a unique gastronomical experience that is both delicious and nourishing. So, when the opportunity arises, be sure to savor the flavors and culinary traditions of this beautiful country.