Vietnamese salad is a dish that represents all the beauties of its gastronomy. Being the new star of the Asian culinary world, Vietnamese cuisine is well known for its finesse; its complexity while respecting a perfect harmony of flavours. The visual amusement, where simply the combination of the colours of the ingredients offers us already a piece of art.
Like other salads around the world, the Vietnamese salad, at its simplest, is also a mixture of raw vegetables and a sour-tasting dressing. However, over time and depending on the region, the ingredients in salads begin to vary and become richer. All kinds of fresh foods can be found in salads: vegetable leaves, vegetables, herbs, ripe or green fruit, nuts, flowers and even rhizomes! Protein is occasionally added to salads to make the dish more nutritious.
The vegetables found in Vietnamese salad are very varied. The most common are: carrots, kohlrabi, potato peas, bamboo shoots, water bindweed… All these vegetables, whatever their original shape, will be prepared in julienne, or in thin slices, with the aim of forming bite-sized pieces that are convenient to grab with chopsticks. In addition, in the form of thin slices or threads, the freshness and crisp texture of the vegetables can be preserved by dipping them in ice water. The main ingredients of the salads are often mixed together to create a more attractive visual effect.
Flavouring herbs are used to elevate the taste by their smell. Mint, Vietnamese lemon balm, laksa leaves are frequently used… These herbs also have their medicinal role, for example, to prevent stomach aches.
We often choose fruits that have a slightly acidic taste, or those that are still green, still crunchy. The most commonly used fruit is the green papaya, of course julienned. Grapefruit is quite often found in Vietnamese salads. Tropical fruits such as coconuts, mango, mangosteen, bitter melon, and ma-kok. Just discovering the taste of these fruits is a wonder for western palates.
Flowers that can be tasted in Vietnamese salads are those that cannot be found anywhere else in the world: hummingbird flowers, banana flowers, orchid tree flowers, water lilies, Tonkinese jasmine… Their unique colour and flavour contribute to the immense diversity of Vietnamese cuisine.
Other strange ingredients such as lotus rhizomes also exist in the Vietnamese salad bowl.
In this dish of a thousand versions, protein is not the main ingredient, but the addition of taste and nutrition. There are all kinds of meats: beef and squid _ raw or dried, chicken breast (which tears easily), jellyfish, and especially shrimp. The use of shrimp in Vietnamese salad is so popular because of its sweetness, its inviting colour and its taste which goes particularly well with most of the vegetables or fruits_ which are the main ingredient of the salad.
The salad with nuoc-mam
Last but not least is the nuoc-mam. This sauce is often a combination of salty, sweet, spicy and sour tastes. Finely chopped red pepper and garlic cloves, lime combined with the unique taste of nuoc-mam elevate the crunchy texture and freshness of the vegetable mixture.
Vietnamese salad is increasingly chosen by gourmets around the world, thanks to its lightness and exceptional taste. It is already being used in famous restaurants and certainly in the hearts of gourmets all over the world.