How did the Vietnamese use Herbs and Spices
Vietnamese cuisine is influenced by a variety of cultural, historical, and religious aspects, but the country’s emphasis on fresh herbs and vegetables, delicate balance, and clear fragrances has been there since the beginning. It all comes down to geography.
Both the availability and therefore the use of spices in North Việt Nam are limited, due to its colder climate. Northern Vietnamese tend to use black pepper, a locally grown spice, to season their dishes rather than chili which requires a warmer climate. Chili, brought to Asia originally by the Portuguese, is not native to Việt Nam but now holds a very significant position in southern Vietnamese cooking.
Because of the area’s mountainous and humid terrain, Central Vietnamese cuisine is known for its aroma and profusion of spices. Warm weather and rich soil in the south allow for a broader variety of crops, fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices, and it is from this region of Việt Nam that Vietnamese curries originate.
The impact of numerous cultures on Vietnamese cuisine is also a major role in the country’s spices usage. With its handy seaside position making it a suitable trading area and its warm climate making it great for cultivating crucial imports such as chili from the Americas and spices from India, the south of Vietnam is noted for being the most widely influenced by the spice trade.
Given its role in trade and the impact of neighboring Cambodian culinary culture, the South has one of the most diverse cuisines in the country.
The central regions of Việt Nam are perhaps the most interesting examples of this, with the royal culinary traditions of the Nguyễn Dynasty in the 19th Century leaving its mark on the area, with colorful, rich, almost regal foods still around today.
The central parts of Việt Nam are possibly the most notable examples of this, with the Nguyễn Dynasty’s royal culinary traditions, leaving their stamp on the region in the 19th century, with colorful, rich, almost regal meals that are still present today.
Huế was once the Nguyễn Dynasty’s fortress. It was a cultural crossroads for the country, bringing together intellectuals, Confucians, and artists, and it was here that the concept of “Royal Food” for Việt Nam was born.
Vietnamese food is also heavily influenced by its various periods of foreign settlement, from Chinese settlement in 111 BC to French colonization in the mid-1800s. When the Chinese incorporated Việt Nam under the Han Empire, they brought both Buddhist and Confucian beliefs and culture into the country.
With this emerged the concept of yin and yang, or the balance of opposites, as well as the idea of using this principle in cooking. The Vietnamese use colors and spices that correspond to each element to balance the five elements (metal, wood, earth, fire, and water).
The color white, along with a hint of heat/spiciness, indicates metal; a sour taste and the color green, wood; yellow and a sweet taste, earth; red and bitterness, fire; and salty flavor with black coloring, water. Vietnamese cooking is based on a balance of various tastes, colors, and so on ingredients.
The north of Việt Nam is still the country’s most highly Chinese-influenced region, with rich, fried meals and ingredients comparable to those used in Chinese cooking.
When the French arrived in the country several decades later, they developed and altered this concept of balance. Bringing to Việt Nam its own set of European norms, tastes, and ideals, the Vietnamese people were left with some of their present favorites, such as banh mi baguettes with pate and cold roast pork, baked croissant-like cakes, and Vietnamese sponge cake. Strawberries, grapes, avocado, beans, courgette, carrots, potatoes, beetroots, onions, artichokes, and asparagus were among the primary European items brought to the region by the French.