A quick guide to Vietnam’s street food!

Vietnam has some of the best street food in the world – its fresh, delicious, and insanely cheap. You can’t eat anything bad there, but here are some of the dishes I’d recommend getting your hands on when you visit Vietnam.

 

Banh Xeo
Vietnamese pancakes/crepes that are made slightly differently in different regions – my favourites were the ones made in Hoi An, as they were a bit thicker. Generally make with pork and shrimp, filled with bean shoots, and served with fresh herbs and a dipping sauce. Amazing.
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Bun Cha
A pile of rice noodles, fresh herbs, freshly fried spring rolls and whatever meat they decide to serve you. You’ll also get some delicious sweet and sour sauce with a side of chilli so you can decide how hot you want it!20140707-153052-55852691.jpg

 

Banh Cuon
Steamed rice rolls/crepes filled with usually pork and prawn, and topped with tasty deep fried shallots and garlic, accompanied by the standard pile of fresh herbs and dipping sauce.
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Banh Mi
Vietnam’s famous baguettes, usually filled with some sort of pork, fresh coriander, chili and pickled cucumber, but they can take on other forms too, like the triangular one with Kewpie mayo I got at a market in Hoi An, below. I tried a few different versions over there, and regardless of the other variables, they were probably the best breads I’ve ever eaten.
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All-you-can-eat vendors
Places like Bale Well in Hoi An that provide basically a table spread of food for a tiny cost (around AUD$4 or $5 per person) are not only great value, but a fantastic way of trying out a heap of different things! Look out for tables full of food and happy people!

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Sticky rice
This is one of my absolute favourites to eat – generally available in both sweet and savoury (below we tried sticky rice with black beans, chickpeas and mung beans) varieties, there is no better way to end the night that a scoop of sweet sticky rice swimming in coconut milk and topped with a fresh mango!

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Donuts
Donuts seem to be quite popular in Vietnam. Whether on a stick and coated in soft sugar, or freshly fried and filled with coconut or banana, they’re all delicious. The ones I tried all had soft, tasty dough, with just enough “crunch” to bite into. Really lovely and cheap to pick up while walking through markets.

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Bakery cakes
Thanks to the French, there are a ton of gorgeous little bakeries with beautiful, delicate cakes and pastries in the windows. My favourites were these small coconut treats, that were basically a pastry crust with a cakey filling and topped with a little sprinkle of sesame seeds.

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Cook this: Easy buttermilk pancakes

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

These pancakes are literally easy enough to roll out of bed at 6:30am, have a shower, do your hair, put on a bit of make up, get dressed for work, and still have them on the table by 7:00am. This is by no means the “perfect” pancake, but it’s quick and easy, super delicious, and very versatile. It’s also a bit more exciting than cereal and toast, because some mornings, you need a bit of convincing to get out of bed. Breakfast win.

Here’s what you’ll need for two decent pancake stacks (this mixture made 8 pancakes):
– 1⅓ cups self raising flour
– ¼ cup castor sugar
– 40g butter, melted
– 1 large egg
– 1½ cups buttermilk
– 2 tbsp. water
– 2 tsp vanilla extract
– butter or spray oil for cooking

 

1. Sift the flour into a large bowl and add in the sugar.

2. Use a wooden spoon (controversial, I know, wooden spoon instead of whisk!) to then mix in the butter, egg, milk, water and vanilla until everything is well and truly combined and smooth. At this stage, feel free to add in anything else that tickles your fancy – orange or lemon zest, shredded coconut, blueberries, a swirl of Nutella, anything goes!

3. Heat a non-stick fry pan over medium heat (I really need to stress here that medium heat is essential. I got a little excited and cranked the heat up to high for the first batch of pancakes, and they came off crisp and burnt. Luckily, husband actually quite likes a burnt pancake, but lesson learnt – you can’t rush pancake perfection!), and use either cooking spray oil or a little butter to coat the pan before dropping your pancake batter on. I used ⅓ measuring cups to measure out the mixture and they made nicely sized pancakes, but if you want miniatures or pancakes the size of dinner plates or anything in between, go nuts!

4. Let them cook on one side until you can start to see the bubbles forming in the batter – check they’re browned (but not burnt), then flip them over and let them cook for another minute or two on the other side.

5. To serve them up, I stacked mine and topped them with coconut yoghurt and diced plums, but this is where the fun starts and you can just go crazy on these guys and top them with whatever the hell you want!