Vietnamese cuisine is known for its bold and exquisite flavors, and one aspect that truly represents this diversity is Vietnamese salads. Bursting with freshness, textures, and delightful combinations, Vietnamese salads are a treat for the senses.
From chicken salad with mangosteen to Vietnamese shrimp salad, each dish tells a unique story about Vietnam’s rich culinary heritage. In this article, we will take a journey through some of the most delectable Vietnamese salad creations, uncovering the secrets behind their preparation and the cultural significance they hold.
What is Vietnamese salad?
Vietnamese salad is a vibrant and diverse category of dishes in Vietnamese cuisine that emphasizes freshness, balance, and a delightful blend of flavors. These salads showcase an assortment of colorful vegetables, fruits, herbs, and proteins, all combined to create a harmonious and refreshing culinary experience.
In Vietnamese cuisine, salads are commonly known as “Nom” or “Goi,” and the difference in names is based on regional dialects. In Northern Vietnam, the term “Nom” is used to refer to these delicious and refreshing dishes, while in Southern Vietnam, they are known as “Goi”. Despite the variation in names, both “Nom” and “Goi” share the same concept of being mixed salads featuring a delightful combination of sweet and sour flavors.
To elevate the flavors, “Nom” or “Goi” are usually dressed with a special sauce called “nước chấm” which is a well-balanced mixture of fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, water, garlic, and chili. This dressing adds a zesty and tangy dimension to the salad, enhancing its overall taste.
One common way to enjoy “Nom” or “Goi” is by pairing them with prawn crackers, adding a delightful crunch to the meal. The combination of the fresh, crunchy salad with the crispy prawn crackers creates a wonderful contrast of textures and flavors.
Best Vietnamese salads you must try
Chicken Salad with Mangosteen (Goi Ga Mang Cut): A Tropical Twist
Starting our culinary adventure, we have the Chicken Salad with Mangosteen, a dish that brings together the succulent taste of tender boiled chicken and the crisp sweetness of mangosteen, along with a refreshing mix of fresh herbs and vegetables. All mixed together to create a mouthwatering experience.
Traditionally, Goi Ga Mang Cut is served alongside chicken mushroom porridge, adding heartiness to the meal, and accompanied by a plate of sweet and sour fish sauce or a spicier option with a side of chili salt.
The dish is a harmonious blend of flavors, perfect for those who enjoy eating salad in Vietnam.
Hue Fig Salad (Va Tron): A Royal Delicacy
Hue Fig Salad, also known as Va Tron, hails from the ancient imperial city of Hue. It’s a salad fit for royalty, combining fresh figs with aromatic herbs, shrimp, pork, and a perfectly balanced dressing. This unique blend of flavors pays homage to Vietnam’s royal culinary traditions.
Vietnamese Raw Herring Salad (Goi Ca Trich): An Oceanic Delight
Goi Ca Trich takes us on a journey to Vietnam’s coastal regions, where herring is abundant. This salad features thinly sliced raw herring, mixed with fragrant herbs, chili, and a zesty dressing. The combination of fresh fish and vibrant flavors is a true celebration of Vietnam’s coastal cuisine.
Rare Beef in Lime Juice Salad (Bo Tai Chanh): A Tangy Delight
Bo Tai Chanh is a salad that tantalizes the taste buds with its zesty flavors. It showcases thinly sliced rare beef that is marinated in lime juice, creating a refreshing and tangy sensation. The beef’s tenderness combined with the citrusy punch makes it a favorite among locals and visitors alike.
Vietnamese Jellyfish Salad (Goi Sua): An Exotic Adventure
For those seeking a culinary adventure, Goi Sua is the perfect choice. This exotic salad features tender jellyfish, mixed with cucumber, carrots, and Vietnamese herbs. The unique texture of jellyfish, coupled with the herbaceous notes, offers an unparalleled gustatory experience.
Vietnamese Lotus Root Salad (Goi Ngo Sen): A Crunchy Marvel
Goi Ngo Sen is a crunchy delight that celebrates the lotus plant. The salad incorporates thinly sliced lotus roots, prawns, and pork, all blended with a harmonious fish sauce dressing. The result is a satisfying crunch with a burst of flavors that represent the essence of Vietnamese cuisine.
Vietnamese Beef Salad (Goi Bo): A Protein-Packed Wonder
Goi Bo is a protein-packed salad that showcases the versatility of Vietnamese beef. Tender beef slices are combined with fresh herbs, peanuts, and a savory dressing. This wholesome salad is a favorite choice for those looking for a hearty and nutritious meal.
Vietnamese Shredded Chicken Salad (Goi Ga): A Flavor Explosion
Goi Ga offers a medley of flavors, combining shredded chicken with cabbage, carrots, mint, and roasted peanuts. The explosion of textures and the balance of sweet, sour, and savory elements make this salad a crowd-pleaser at any gathering.
Vietnamese Papaya Salad (Goi Du Du): Sweet and Spicy
This culinary delight features thin strips of green papaya that are tossed together with a vibrant assortment of fresh herbs, succulent beef or shrimp, and a harmonious blend of flavors. The dressing is a perfect balance of sweet, sour, and spicy elements, created by combining fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, and chili, among other ingredients.
Goi du du is widely cherished for its versatility and adaptability to different palates. Its sweet, sour, and spicy notes make it a favorite among locals and tourists alike, catering to a wide range of taste preferences.
Mixed Pho (Pho Tron): A Noodle Twist
Pho Tron is a unique and creative twist on the traditional Vietnamese noodle soup. This salad has garnered much popularity due to its innovative concept, which combines all the beloved elements of pho in a refreshing and delightful form. Tender rice noodles are tossed with an assortment of fresh herbs, bean sprouts, juicy slices of beef or chicken, and the iconic pho broth.
The broth is served cold in a separate bowl, allowing diners to customize the flavor and consistency of the salad to their liking. This dish offers the best of both worlds – savoring the authentic pho experience while enjoying the cool and light qualities of a salad. With its harmonious blend of textures and flavors, Mixed Pho has become a beloved choice for those seeking a wholesome and satisfying Vietnamese salad.
Vietnamese Noodle Salad (Bun Tron): A Hearty Combination
Vietnamese Noodle Salad is a hearty combination of rice vermicelli noodles, fresh vegetables and your choice of protein, typically grilled pork or chicken. Topped with crushed peanuts and drizzled with the nuoc cham, this salad is a satisfying and nutritious meal.
Vietnamese Cucumber Salad: A Refreshing Delight
Vietnamese Cucumber Salad offers a simple yet refreshing experience. Sliced cucumbers are tossed with onions, garlic, chili, and a light dressing, creating a cool and crisp salad that complements any main course.
Vietnamese Tomato Salad: A Burst of Freshness
The Vietnamese Tomato Salad celebrates the juiciness and flavor of ripe tomatoes. The tomatoes are combined with basil, onions, and a tangy dressing, delivering a burst of freshness that makes it a perfect side dish for any meal.
Vietnamese Duck Salad (Goi Vit): A Gourmet Experience
Lastly, we have the Vietnamese Duck Salad, a gourmet delight that features succulent duck meat tossed with herbs, green mango, and toasted rice powder. The combination of rich flavors and textures makes this salad an indulgent treat.
Vietnamese Mango Salad (Goi Xoai): A Tropical Sensation
Adding to the tropical flavors, Vietnamese Mango Salad showcases the juicy sweetness of ripe mangoes mixed with shrimp, red onions, mint, and a tangy dressing. This vibrant salad is a true celebration of Vietnam’s tropical produce and will transport you to the sandy beaches under swaying palm trees.
Are Vietnamese salads typically spicy?
Vietnamese salads often feature spicy elements, such as chili and pepper, but the level of spiciness can be adjusted to suit individual preferences.
Is vegetarian-friendly Vietnamese salad available?
Yes, many Vietnamese salads can be adapted to suit vegetarian diets, replacing meat with tofu or additional vegetables.
Are Vietnamese salads considered healthy?
Yes, Vietnamese salads are generally considered healthy as they incorporate fresh ingredients like vegetables, herbs, and lean proteins.
Where can I find Vietnamese salads outside of Vietnam?
Vietnamese restaurants worldwide often offer a variety of traditional salads, providing an opportunity to experience these delightful dishes globally.
Can I make Vietnamese salads at home?
Absolutely! Most Vietnamese salads are easy to prepare at home with readily available ingredients and simple recipes.
How to make Vietnamese salad dressing?
To make Vietnamese salad dressing, you’ll need some key ingredients that come together to create a flavorful and tangy dressing.
Start by combining cold filtered water, fish sauce, rice vinegar, freshly squeezed lime juice, and coconut palm sugar in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake the jar vigorously until the palm sugar is fully dissolved.
Then, add finely chopped garlic and your choice of chile, either serrano or red birdseye, depending on your preference for spiciness. Shake the jar again to incorporate the garlic and chile into the dressing.
For the best results, refrigerate the dressing for at least an hour or two before using, allowing the flavors to meld and mellow. Once ready, drizzle this delicious Vietnamese salad dressing over your favorite salads and savor the delightful taste it adds to your dish.
Vietnamese salads are a reflection of the country’s vibrant culture and rich culinary heritage. Each salad tells a unique story, bringing together a myriad of flavors and textures that captivate the palate. Whether you prefer the tropical twist of chicken salad with mangosteen, the tangy delight of rare beef in lime juice salad, or the tropical sensation of Vietnamese mango salad, Vietnamese salads promise an unforgettable gastronomic adventure.