Discover 12 traditional Tet dishes in Vietnam

by Lam Pham

According to the custom of many Asian countries, the Lunar New Year is a time when families gather in a bustling atmosphere to welcome the New Year. The delicious dishes displayed on the tray at the beginning of the year also play an important role in showing the traditional culinary culture of each country.

In particular, Vietnam’s Tet dishes are diverse and rich with many originating dishes spread across three regions of the country. Below, Karst Plateau will list 12 traditional Tet dishes in Vietnam.

1. Delicious Tet Day dishes in the North

1.1 Banh Chung (Square sticky rice cake)

This is a traditional Tet dish in Northern Vietnam

First and foremost, when discussing the topic of traditional Tet day dishes in Vietnam, one must immediately mention Banh Chung. This Tet day dish is closely associated with the lengthy history of Vietnamese cuisine. Banh Chung is seen as a symbol of the earth, expressing Prince Lang Lieu’s gratitude to King Hung, the 16th generation, along with the land and sky.

Banh Chung is a harmonious combination of sticky rice, sweet mung beans, lightly spicy pepper, and fatty, savory pork. This creates a distinctive Tet Day flavor. In particular, the image of families sitting together waiting for the Banh Chung pot to be cooked has become a cultural value, closely tied to the souls of Northern people every Tet.

1.2 Nem ran (Fried spring rolls)

Northern Tet dish – Nem Ran

Nem Ran often appears in Tet trays and is one of the traditional dishes of Vietnam. The rounded spring rolls, combined with salty vegetarian fillings, not only bring delicious flavor but also express national cultural identity.

Ingredients for making fried spring rolls are very diverse, often there is ground pork, eggs, vegetables, shiitake mushrooms, myrrh, and vermicelli. After that, the cook needs to skillfully roll the spring rolls into small bite-sized rolls and take them to deep fry. Fried spring rolls are best served with raw vegetables, and dipped in specially prepared fish sauce.

1.3 Thit Ga luoc (Boiled chicken)

This is indispensable in the feast offered to ancestors during Tet.

Thit Ga is a familiar dish in many Vietnamese families. For Northerners, Ga Luoc is indispensable in the feast offered to ancestors during Tet.

Our chicken is boiled softly, the skin is glossy, then chopped and neatly laid out on a plate. The dish is simple but requires professional chicken cooking and chopping techniques to keep the deliciousness of chicken. When eaten, chicken is dipped with salt and pepper and fragrant lemon leaves to complete a meal on Tet day in the North.

2. Central Vietnam Tet Day Dishes

2.1 Banh Tet (Cylindrical glutinous rice cake)

Flavors of Tet holidays in central Vietnam

Banh Tet is the first name on the list of Tet Day dishes in Central Vietnam. Particularly, this cylindrical cake symbolizes the convergence of earth and sky. Unlike the northern Banh Chung wrapped in dong leaves, the Central Vietnamese Banh Tet is enveloped with banana leaves.

Despite having similar ingredients, Central Vietnamese Banh Tet is shaped into cylindrical portions, creating a unique appearance. This not only enhances the visual appeal but also emphasizes the distinct flavors of each ingredient inside. Additionally, Central Vietnamese bánh tét is not only delicious but also alluring due to its simplicity and refinement in preparation.

2.2 Nem chua (Fermented pork roll)

On Tet, Vietnamese families serve fermented pork rolls as an appetizer

Nem chua, also known as Vietnamese fermented pork or sour sausage, is a popular traditional dish in Vietnamese cuisine. It is made from ground pork that is mixed with various ingredients and left to ferment for a period, allowing the flavors to develop into a slightly sour taste.

After the fermentation process, this mixture is often cut into small bite-sized portions and served with herbs and vegetables such as lettuce, mint, cilantro, and cucumber slices.

2.3 Bo kho mat mia

It is a tasty and nutritious dish, usually placed on the Tet dinner table

Bo kho mat mia is one of the traditional dishes of Central Vietnam enjoyed during the Tet holiday. This dish combines the sweetness of sugarcane juice, the chewiness of bap bo, and the deliciousness of a simmering stew, creating a unique and special flavor.

It is a tasty and nutritious dish, usually placed on the Tet dinner table to show respect for ancestors and to wish for a prosperous New Year.

3. Delicious Tet Day Dishes in Southern Vietnam

3.1 Thit Kho Nuoc Dua (Braised pork in coconut water)

Typical Tet dish in the South

Of the myriad of Tet dishes, the most famous traditional dish, beloved and made the most by people in the South, is Thit Kho Nuoc Dua. Braised meat with coconut is also known by many other names such as meat braised with duck eggs, and meat braised with shrimp paste. People often braise a large pot to eat gradually during the first days of the year. The interesting thing is that the longer this dish is cooked, the more flavorful and delicious the meat becomes.

During Tet, Thit Kho Nuoc Dua is commonly served with steamed white rice, and it is a staple in the festive Tet meal spread. The rich and aromatic flavors of the dish, along with its cultural significance, make it a cherished tradition that encapsulates the spirit of Tet and the hope for a prosperous and harmonious new year.

3.2 Canh Kho Qua (Bitter melon soup)

This is sweet and attractive for traditional Tet

For every Southern family, bitter melon soup with stuffed pork is a delicious dish, especially during Tet. This dish carries the meaning of overcoming difficulties, bringing luck and prosperity. Moreover, bitter melon soup with stuffed pork is a nutritious dish, that helps to cool the body, suitable for enjoying the hot Tet days in the South.

3.3 Lap Xuong (Chinese sausage)

This is also one of the popular and familiar dishes in the South

Finally, in the list of delicious and easy-to-make Tet dishes, there is Lap Xuong. This is also one of the popular and familiar dishes in the South. Various types of Lap Xuong are available, including fresh, dried, lean, shrimp, and fish. Each type has its characteristic flavor, with an unforgettable taste.

One of the most popular cooking methods is oil-free frying, which not only brings delicious flavor but is also safe for health. Additionally, you can boil, fry, or bake. 

Above are 12 typical Vietnamese Tet dishes. Each Tet dish has a history associated with the nation’s traditions and carries profound meaning. Hopefully, this article from Karst Plateau will help you better understand traditional Vietnamese dishes, and don’t forget to try these dishes.

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