Vietnamese traditional foods in Tet Holiday
The Vietnamese New Year – Tết Nguyên Đán – follows the same lunar calendar that governs Chinese New Year celebrations worldwide. So on the same day the world celebrates Chinese New Year, the people of Vietnam celebrate Tet.
Tet is the most important and popular holiday and festival in Vietnam. Tet takes place from the first day of the first month of the Lunar calendar (around late January or early February) until at least the third day. Furthermore, for Vietnamese people, Tet hugely affects the local’s conception of life, customs, and beliefs profoundly. There are a lot of customs practiced during Tet such as visiting a person’s house on the first day of the new year, ancestral worship, wishing New Year’s greetings, giving lucky money to children and elderly people and opening a shop.
In the days leading up to Tet, the streets and markets are full of people. As the shops will be closed during Tet, everyone is busy buying food, clothes, and decorations for their house. Each family cooks special holiday foods such as traditional cakes (bánh chưng and bánh tét). Preparations for these foods are quite extensive. One of very popular traditional food in Tet is mứt (candied fruits). If you have chance to come to Vietnam during Lunar New Year, you will be impressed with the Vietnamese traditional dishes.
Banh Chung- Banh Tet (Sticky Square Cake)
This is the cake in Vietnam food culture since long time ago. According to the old legends, banh chung appeared on the Hung dynasty. This cake symbolizes the ground expressing gratitude to the ancestors and the earth, sky. Besides, it emphasizes the important role of rice and nature in water rice culture. In contrast to the fast food in modern life, the process of making banh chung is time consuming and requires the contribution of several people. Family members often take turns to keep watch on the fire overnight, telling each other stories about Tet of past years.
Main ingredients are glutinous rice, pork meat, and mung beans wrapped in a square of bamboo leaves that will give the rice a green color after boiling. The sticky rice must be very good and was soaked in water in the previous day. Rice cake is wrapped in square shape, and the wrapping power must be neither tight nor loose. Then the cake will be boiled in about 12 hours by wood. It has nutrition with an original tasty flavor and may be kept for a long time. Eating banh chung with vegetable pickles will bring you unforgettable taste.
Gio Cha (Vietnamese Sausage)
Gio cha is another common item on the traditional Tet menu and is often eaten with starchy food. Like banh chung, Vietnamese sausage is wrapped in banana leaves and needs to be unwrapped before consumption. There are three common kinds of this sausage including gio lua (sausage made of ground pork, first class fish sauce and black pepper), gio bo (made of purred beef) and gio thu (made of pork meat, ear, nose, tongue, cheek, and wood ear mushrooms). The mix of ingredients are boiled or steamed carefully. The roll is cut into pieces and serve cold. This type of food is also used as fillings of Vietnamese sandwich, sticky rice or banh chung…
- Thit Kho Trung (Vietnamese Braised Pork with Eggs)
Pork is cut into cubes and soak in garlic, fish sauce, sugar, and coconut water. The eggs are used in this dish because it symbolizes the goodness and happiness. Eggs are hard-boiled and peeled. The pork and peeled hard-boiled eggs are cooked in a pot for a few hours, then served with vegetable pickles.
Pickles play an important role in Vietnamese cuisine. There are many kinds of pickles for Tet Holiday that may be made of onions, carrots, garlics, turnips, etc. For a sound mind in a sound body, make sure you include pickled vegetables such as dua hanh (pickled spring onions), dua chua (picked mustard cabbage) and dua gia (pickled bean sprouts) in the feasts on the first days of the lunar new year.
Mut (Candied fruits)
Mut is an indispensable treat during the Lunar New Year Festival. Everyone prepares a box of colorful candied fruits at home to give visitors, gift to friends and family, and offer to ancestors. A typical guest would much on a candy and roasted watermelon seeds and drink a few cups of tea. Children enjoy the candied fruits as little snacks.
It is a simple process and the ingredients are all readily available like coconut, ginger, sweet potato, kumquat, tamarind, and pineapple. They also have health benefits. For instance, having a few pieces of candied ginger will help digestion, while candied kumquat, which is often eaten with the peel helping relieve sore throats and ease hangovers. The candied lotus seeds is used for relieving stress and getting a good night’s sleep.
Stewed bitter melon with ground pork
People in the South Vietnam eat Stewed bitter melon with ground pork in Tet Holiday because it’s not only flavorful and healthy but it also has a special meaning. The name of bitter melon in Vietnam is “khổ qua”, which means difficulty passed. Behind the bitter taste is the savoury sweetness. Vietnamese people eat bitter melon to say goodbye the old and welcome the new.
Time to Tet Holiday is counting down, so if you want to experience this extremely special event at least once in life and also enjoy Vietnamese traditional foods for Lunar New Year, just pack up your luggage and reserve a Tet Holiday trip in Vietnam.
>>> 9 Traditional Activities on Tet Holiday Lunar New Year in VietNam you should know