Tết Nguyên Đán (called Lunar New Year in English) is the most important festival in culture of Vietnam. Spring comes, spring goes, and spring comes back to bring the aspirations about new year fulls of success, happiness, and prosperity. Tết is an occasion for family reunion, visit relatives, and enjoy life after a full hard-working year.
Vietnamese people often say “ ăn Tết” which means “enjoy Tết festival”, so it is no surprise that food is considered an important part of this holiday. Here are delicious traditional dishes on Tết holiday in Vietnam that you should not miss.
Bánh Chưng - Sticky Rice Cake
Bánh chưng is an indispensable traditional cake on Tết festival in the Northern provinces (Photo: Internet)
In Vietnam food culture, bánh chưng with square shape is the symbol representing the earth. Besides, it emphasizes the wet rice civilization with ingredients that are products of the process of farming and raising livestock.
The main ingredients made bánh chưng includes glutinous rice, mung bean, fatty pork, and black pepper, salt, sometimes green onion, and fish sauce for spices. Bánh chưng is wrapped by “dong“ leaves that will give the rice a green color after boiling. Local people always boil bánh chưng at least 12 hours to create the original tasty flavor and help to kept for a long time.
Bánh chưng is often eaten with pickled onions to bring the unforgettable flavor. This way of eating not only enhances the taste but also helps to add vitamins and minerals. Bánh chưng is made from glutinous rice which is difficult to digest; pickled onions help to stimulate digestion and prevent full stomach.
Bánh Tét - Cylindrical Glutinous Rice Cake
In Central and Southern of Vietnam, bánh tét is an indispensable traditional cake on Tết holiday (Photo: Internet)
Having the same meaning of bánh chưng, bánh tét also symbolizes wet rice civilization. Bánh chưng wrapped in a square shape while the shape of bánh tét is cylindrical. Bánh tét is also made from glutinous rice, mung bean, pork and rolled in a multiple layers banana leaves. Ingredients for making bánh tét need to be prepared carefully to create the best taste. Banana leaves must be dried in the sun or boiled in hot water before wrapping. Sticky rice must be soaked in warm water with salt for a few hours. Mung beans are washed and peeled, pork is cut long and square as the size of a finger. Bánh tét is boiled for six hours or longer to create a unique flavor.
Besides, bánh tét can also be made from ripe banana and glutinous rice, called bánh tét chuối. Sometimes bánh tét chuối can also add black beans and coconut milk to enhance the taste. Bánh tét chuối has the fatty-sweet taste and suitable for vegetarians.
Some families still keep the habit of wrapping bánh tét by themselves on Tết holiday. Cooking bánh tét is not only to make a delicious dish but also to help to bring the warm Tết atmosphere of reunions among family members and neighbors.
Mứt - The Candied Fruits
Mứt is often enjoyed with hot tea (Photo: Internet)
Mứt is made from familiar ingredients such as coconut, sweet potato, ginger, calamansi, wintermelon, lotus seed, etc. Vietnamese people believe that mứt can bring luck, happiness, fortune, and peace. Mứt sen (made from lotus seeds) symbolizes family reunion and all people who leave their homeland to work will return with their families. Mứt gừng (made from ginger) with a spicy and sweet taste has the meaning “bring the happinest and warmth to your life”. Mứt tắc (made from calamansi) has a beautiful yellow – orange color that symbolizes for luck and prosperity in the new year. Mứt bí (made from wintermelon) means “ the best wishes for health and growth in new year”.
Besides mứt, Tết holiday cannot be without the presence of hạt dưa (melon seeds). Thanks to its beautiful red color, hạt dưa is considered a symbol of luck during the Lunar New Year. Of course, enjoying hạt dưa is also an enjoyable experience.
Canh Khổ Qua - Bitter Melon With Ground Pork Soup
Not only has special meaning, canh khổ qua is also nutritious and flavourful (Photo: Internet)
In the South Vietnam, local people always eat stewed bitter melon on Tết Holiday because it has a special meaning. The name of bitter melon in Vietnam is “khổ qua”, which means difficulty passed. Vietnamese people believe that after eating bitter melon soup, they can say goodbye the difficulty and welcome the happinest in new year. The soup is made from bitter melon, ground pork, wood-ear mushroom, and onions. In fact, bitten melon soup can be cook and eat all year round but on Tếtt holiday it will become more special thanks to its lucky meaning. In addition, bitter melon soup also has the effect of beating the heat if you eat a lot of hot and spicy dishes during Tết holiday.
Thịt Kho Trứng - Braised Pork with Eggs
The perfect combination of pork, duck eggs, and coconut water creates the best taste (Photo: Internet)
On Tết Holiday, especially in the Southern region of Vietnam, people usually cook a large pot of braised pork in coconut juice with eggs. The meat is stewed for many hours so that the meat is really tender, and the duck eggs are soaked with spices. The indispensable ingredient of this dish is fresh coconut water which brings natural smooth sweetness. A special feature of braised egg meat is that you can eat it for many days when the market is closed, especially in the past. You can heat up before every meal, and the taste still delicious as well as when freshly cook, even more delightful than before.
Gà Luộc và Xôi Gấc – Boiled Chicken and Gac Sticky Rice
Boiled chicken and gac sticky rice are an indispensable dishes in the offering tray on the ancestral altar on Tết holiday (Photo: Internet)
The Tet tray offered to the ancestors, especially in the North, mush have the presence of a plate of boiled chicken. According to traditional customs, chicken has many good meaning because it is symbolic of aggression, strength, fullness, and well-being . Chicken meat may be sliced or place the whole chicken in a plate. The dish is often used along with salt-and-pepper-sauce and sliced lemon leaves.
Vietnamese people believe that red color represents the wish for a happy, luck, and prosperous new year. That is the reason why Vietnamese people often eat xôi gấc (Gac sticky rice) to make Tet more meaningful and colorful. Therefore, Starting a new year with xôi gấc will be lucky all year. Not only has beautiful color, Gac sticky rice is also loved by its delicious taste.
is a traditional dish usually served at special occasions such as Lunar New Year.
Vietnamese Tet Holiday is a special time for everyone to think about the last year and the new year has come. You should spend time to enjoy the most special time of the year and do not forget to eat tradition food. Wish you a new year fulls of Health, Happiness, Luck, and Prosperity.