Vietnam Tradional Food for Tet Holiday (Lunar New Year)

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Three weeks more and Vietnamese will welcome the Lunar New Year (Tet). As this is the most important event in the country, Vietnamese start to prepare for it from now. Besides the decorated stuffs and ornamental plants, food is the most important item for Tet as the belief of meals in Tet are the most fulfill meals each year.  

Northern Vietnam is the area that takes Tet meals most seriously in Vietnam. Here people still keep the rule of the recipe for Tet meals for generations. Most of families in the North will prepare these dishes for at least 3 first days of Lunar New Year: Banh Chung (Square Cake), Gio lua, Canh mang (Dried Bamboo Shoot Soup with Chicken or Pork Ribs), Nem (Spring Roll), Ga luoc (Boiled chicken) and Dua Cai Chua (Pickled Mustard Greens). It is easy to see that most of the dishes in Northern Tet are made from meat. The reason for this fact comes from the old Vietnamese belief which considers the appearance of meat in meals shows the richness of a family, and more meat means richer and that year is a successful year of the family. Besides, due to the ancient tradition, these foods will be dedicated to the ancestor first and then all family’s members will enjoy them together. 

Banh Chung - Square Cake in the North

Ga Luoc - Boiled Chicken

Nem - Spring Roll

Different with Northern culture where always sticks with ancient tradition, the Central and the South of Vietnam’s Tet meals are the mixture of traditional dishes and the balance of taste which means meals in Lunar New Year are the combine of meat and vegetable, maintain the balance of salty, sweet and sour. In the Central area, meals in Tet holiday have quite light flavor with Gio Bo (Vietnamese Beef Sausage with Black Pepper), Nem Chua (Fermented Pork Roll), Banh To (Nian Gao – a sweet cake with recipe from China) and pickled vegetables. On the other hand, Tet dishes in Southern Vietnam are fatter but with more vegetables with Thit Kho Hot Vit (Chinese Braised Pork with Duck Egg), Canh Kho Qua (Pork Stuffed Bitter Melon Soup), Banh Trang Cuon (Fresh Spring Roll with Shrimp) and Cu Kieu Muoi (Pickled Scallion Head). In addition, there is a type of cake that is similar to the Square Cake in the North and cannot be lacked on the dining table in the South and the Central – Banh Tet. This type of cake is made from the same ingredient and cooking style with Square Cake but wrapped in different shape – Circle (or exactly – Cylinder).


Banh Tet 

Nem Chua - Fermented Pork Roll

Chinese Braised Pork with Egg

Pork Stuffed Bitter Melon Soup

Besides, on Tet holiday, all Vietnamese families prepare snacks for their guests who will come to their house to say “Happy New Year!” and wish all the family a lucky, heathy, wealthy new year. Normally, pumpkin and red melon seeds, sugared dried fruits, candy, chocolate and biscuits are chosen to serve the guest as they present for a wish of luck, sweetness and wealth in Asian belief.

A traditional tray of sweet snacks in Tet holiday

As during Tet holiday, there are only a few store open so it hard to buy food and is very expensive, therefore all Vietnamese shop for food before the holiday and the nearer the event, the more expensive the food, so the shopping must be done really soon. If you have any plan for visiting Indochina this January, come to Vietnam to enjoy the hustle bustle atmosphere here before our Lunar New Year.


(Image Source: Internet)

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