Although the cuisine of Vietnam has been
inspired to a certain level by the Chinese cuisine, it would undoubtedly
not be mistaken for Chinese food, for unique Vietnamese food features an
identity and taste all its own. Rather than soy sauce you have the
widespread use of fish sauce, nuoc mam, that is added during cooking.
Nuoc mam is much more pungent compared to other Southeast Asian fish
sauces. When it is unavailable, add a little dried shrimp paste to
Chinese fish sauce to get a great alternative. However nuoc mam sauce
(or nuoc cham), which can be served as an accompaniment with almost
everything, is based on nuoc mam by having fresh sugar, garlic, chili,
lime or even vinegar and lemon. The taste is sharper plus more pungent
compared to anything the Chinese cuisine could offer.
Noodles and rice are definitely the staple food in the Vietnamese diet,
however they have also developed a taste for French bread through the
years and mix it with beef, cooked Vietnamese style, to make delicious,
if considerably unorthodox sandwiches.
Breakfast in Vietnam is normally noodle soups. It is quite overwhelming
by Western benchmarks, for it is redolent of fresh cilantro herb (called
Vietnamese parsley), garlic and nuoc mam. Rice, together with dishes of
seafood,poultry and meat, is the basis of the other meals.