Living in Vietnam as expats, many people have plans to uphold their tradition of traveling outside of Vietnam to ‘escape’ the week-long Tet (Vietnamese Lunar New Year) holiday, when many shops and services in the country shut down, others have decided to stay and enjoy the holiday spirit with their Vietnamese friends or spouses.
As Tet is the time to show appreciation to ancestors and spending time with family is very important. Like all great festivals there are many foods that have a significance at this time of year, which is the most fun of any holiday.
Here are some delicious foods you will find in many Vietnamese homes during Tet.
Chung Cake (Banh Chung)
Also known as banh tet because of its association with the holiday, this rice cake is made with sticky rice, pork and mung beans. Banh Chung is prepared before an event. It’s then wrapped in banana leaves and presented as a package during the festival.
Traditional Jam (Mut)
Welcoming visitors to your home is an important part of the Tet festival. Guests are offered a selection of dried fruits and nuts as a traditional snack. It often includes pineapple, coconut, star fruit and even seeds and candied ginger.
Pickled onions (Dua Hanh)
Another common snack that can also be served with meals. Pickled onions (Dua hanh) are small pickled shallots that have been cured with chili, ginger and fish sauce before being stored in rice vinegar.
Five – fruit tray (Mam Ngu Qua)
One of the more significant foods during the Tet festival, although it isn’t one offered to house guests. A tray of five fruits is placed on the altar as a sign of respect and gratitude to the family’s ancestors.
An ornamental piece that can be quite elaborate, the fruits vary depending on what region you are in often includes more than five fruits.
Pig’s head paste (Gio Thu)
One of the most important parts of the Vietnamese culture is to use all parts of the meat. This dish uses the meat of the pig’s head which is finely diced and wrapped in a banana leaf before being steamed or boiled.
Frozen meat (Thit Dong)
This northern dish makes good use of the traditional cold weather during the festival period. Thit dong is a variety of chopped cooked meat which is then frozen outdoors, and then served with a pickled onion.
These fruits have a significance during the festival, with the entire plant used to represent the family tree.
The most symmetrical fruits and leaves are chosen for displays.
Vietnamese sausage (Gio cha)
Gio cha is another common item on the traditional Tet menu and is often eaten with starchy food. Like banh chung, Vietnamese sausage is wrapped in banana leaves and needs to be unwrapped before consumption. There are three common kinds of this sausage including gio lua (sausage made of ground pork, first class fish sauce and black pepper), gio bo (made of purred beef) and gio thu (made of pork meat, ear, nose, tongue, cheek, and wood ear mushrooms). The mix of ingredients are boiled or steamed carefully. The roll is cut into pieces and serve cold. This type of food is also used as fillings of Vietnamese sandwich, sticky rice or banh chung…