The noodle nation

The noodle nation
In Vietnam, the breakfast choice for many is a steaming bowl of brothy pho, bought from vendors who dispense the beloved spicy noodle soup until their supply is sold out.

For lunch, it may well be noodles again, prepared in a different way. A bowl of room-temperature rice vermicelli, called bun, may be served with various cooked-to-order toppings and bright add-ons for a satisfying, simple meal. Festooned with lemongrass-scented shrimp, beef, pork or chicken, the noodles are flavoured with nuoc cham (the classic sweet-and-spicy dipping sauce), pickled vegetables and crushed peanuts.

The vital accompaniment to this rice noodle bowl, and many other Vietnamese dishes, is a platter of lettuce leaves and tender, fragrant fresh herbs. The herb mixture usually includes Thai basil, mint, cilantro, sawtooth culantro, Vietnamese coriander, fish herb, red perilla and dill, among other lemony, peppery, freshly picked and highly aromatic leaves.

The lettuce leaves are often used as wrappers. A less formal alternative is to incorporate the lettuce and herbs from the beginning. For example, start with a pile of torn lettuce leaves and herbs in the bottom of each bowl. Add the room-temperature noodles and toppings, then let guests give it a toss with their chopsticks. This gives it a bit more of a salad-like feel.


Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry