From beef pho to pork belly banh mi, there’s no denying Australia’s growing love of Vietnamese food. Fresh, full-flavoured, and a little lighter than some of our other Asian cuisine favourites, it’s perfect for our warmer Aussie weather.
Vietnamese dishes are also really easy to recreate at home. Chef Phil Davenport of Sydney’s street-food-style restaurant, Saigon Lane, reveals the 5 ingredients that are the building blocks of Vietnamese. Best of all, they’re all available from your local supermarket – or may even be in your pantry now!
1. Fish sauce
Fish sauce adds a salty element to the flavour balance. Because of its intensity, a little goes a long way. “You can use fish sauce to make nouc cham dressing, which is a fresh, sweet, sour and fishy sauce used for salads and fried food,” says Phil.
Although Vietnam has a milder, fresher cuisine than some of its neighbouring countries, chilli is still a vital ingredient. It’s used raw in soups, salads and stir-fries.
Ginger’s distinct, warming flavour rarely absent from Vietnamese dishes. Saigon Lane serves up their tiger spring rolls with a ginger dipping sauce.
4. Vietnamese mint
Vietnamese mint has a more peppery taste and longer leaves than its more common counterpart. It’s usually eaten raw salads and duck-related dishes. Phil likes to serve it with nem ran (prawn & pork spring rolls), to add freshness to the meaty flavour.
Coriander haters, look away! This controversial herb is used generously in Vietnamese cooking. It’s a key ingredient in Vietnamese coleslaw, and also pairs well with crispy meat dishes such as pork belly steamed buns.
Saigon Lane is located at Bondi, Darlinghurst, Glebe and the CBD in Sydney. Visit www.saigonlane.com.