5 “non-obvious” influences of French cuisine on modern Vietnamese foods

There are lots of French foods in Vietnam, and the Vietnamese foods are no longer rare in France. But there are some “intersections” between these two culinary cultures that are so similar they become difficult to recognize. Let’s discover 5 of them in this article.

1. Color

Color is the solution that people in Vietnam make the food become more attractive to table companions. From the green color of herb to red tomatoes, all the materials are carefully prepared for the most suitable combinations or processes of food.

5 dieu am thuc Phap anh huong toi am thuc Viet Nam 01

The attractive colors of traditional Vietnamese ‘bun rieu cua’

2. Ingredients

The French brought many ingredients and flavors to Vietnam, most popular and noticeable is probably the baguette, which the Vietnamese adapted and today create their own style of baguette using rice flour. 

5 dieu am thuc Phap anh huong toi am thuc Viet Nam 02

The French baguettes

Many of the vegetables introduced to the country are common in Western cooking, and their names in Vietnamese reflect their origins. Potatoes, carrots, artichokes onions and asparagus are just some of the most obvious vegetables that are included here, with the Vietnamese word for potato khoai tây literally meaning ‘Western yam’. Onions are called hành tây (literally “western shallots”), asparagus as măng tây (western bamboo shoots). 

5 dieu am thuc Phap anh huong toi am thuc Viet Nam 03

Asparagus - a common ingredient for appetizers

Influences are numerous and not limited to simple ingredients, but stretch to methods of cooking too, with the use of butter and wine in the preparation of meals as a nod towards the French. Some of the most common foods in Vietnam nowadays like salad, pâté, vịt nấu cam (duck à l’organe), trứng ốp lết (omlette), bít tết (beef steak), sốt vang, dăm bông (jambon) và xúc xích (saucisse)… all have the French origin. 

5 dieu am thuc Phap anh huong toi am thuc Viet Nam 04

Beef cooked with wine and bread – a French originated dish that has become familiar with the Vietnamese

3. “Bánh mỳ”

Baguettes was introduced to Vietnam  by the French, which were then combined with Vietnamese stuffing to become a popular fast food in Vietnam called bánh mì and known overseas as “Vietnamese baguettes”, though different from the French counterpart in that the baguette is normally made entirely of rice flour. Nowadays, we can find Vietnamese baguettes in any road in Vietnam or even in many places in the Western countries.

5 dieu am thuc Phap anh huong toi am thuc Viet Nam 05

Vietnamese baguette with grilled meat, coriander and pickled carrots

A delicacy found from street vendors and Vietnamese bakeries, its availability makes it a regular chew for both locals and tourists. Instead of using forks and spoons, baguettes of Vietnamese style is very convenient for busy people. Usually containing grilled meat, coriander and pickled carrots, the use of rice flour for the baguette makes it a lighter option to the heavier French loaf.

4. Coffee

All over the nation, from avenue to small lane in France, people can find out some coffee shop opening all day.  The French love coffee or the true is that they love the quiet atmosphere with a cup of coffee.

Since the French introduced coffee to Vietnam in the 1800s, it has become one of the most integral parts of modern Vietnamese social culture. Consumed morning, noon and night, coffee shops are a hub of social interaction for everyone from businesspeople to young socialites. Vietnam grows an incredible amount of coffee beans, and it is the world’s second largest exporter of coffee.

5 dieu am thuc Phap anh huong toi am thuc Viet Nam 06

A sweeter version of Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk has become lots of foreigners’ favorite

5. Crème caramel

 “Bánh flan” or simply, crème caramel is a dessert served chilled with a coffee or caramel saucepoured over the soft caramel top, and the Vietnamese make it even tastier by adding some coconut milk to the mixture when creating the custard base. Since its arrival here, it has become incredibly popular throughout the country and is known by different names, bánh caramel or kem caramel in northern parts of Vietnam, and bánh flan or kem flan in southern regions of the country. In addition to adding coconut milk, the adaptation of caramel sauce to black coffee means that the dessert bears new and more distinctive flavors, a far more interesting end to a meal than the slightly over sweet pudding that we are all accustomed to. 

5 dieu am thuc Phap anh huong toi am thuc Viet Nam 07

Flan cake, caramel,  coconut milk and coffee

French culinary culture have influenced Vietnam in a natural and subtle way and become a indispensable piece in the picture of Vietnamese life. Besides the stated 5 points, in what way can the French and Vietnamese cuisines can complement each other?

5 dieu am thuc Phap anh huong toi am thuc Viet Nam 08

A signature appetizer at La Badiane: Foie gras with figs & blackcurrant liquor, stewed apple in spices & roasted almonds

La Badiane is a French restaurant that aims at “fusion foods”. Still using the familiar ingredients, but the combination of tastes, the improvisation and presentation style of the devoted cooks have elevated the quality of the dishes. Come to La Badiane to experience the delicate “intersection” between the French and Vietnamese culinary cultures!

(With reference information from blog Hoi An Food Tour)