Indispensable specialties on Vietnam’s southern Tet food tray

In the folk belief of the Vietnamese, red watermelon, green bitter melon soup are the dishes that bring luck to the new year.


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Chef Tran Ngoc Sang (Ho Chi Minh City) says that the indispensable dishes in the Southern Lunar New Year are banh tet, bitter melon stuffed with meat soup and stew pork meat and duck eggs. Each family has its own variations, such as shredded chicken, dried shrimp, pickled onion,… (Photo: VN Express)
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The southerners believe that bitter melon means “overcoming hardships of the old year, welcoming a good and happy new year”. The simple soup with bitter melon stuffed with minced pork, sometimes even fish cakes, and shredded mushrooms are loved by most Vietnamese people, especially the South. Though made from bitter melon, the soup has the sweetness of meat broth. (Photo: VN Express)
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Braised pork is a popular dish, often appearing in the traditional food tray on Tet. Chef Tran Ngoc Sang explains, folk says that the square-cut meat and round duck eggs symbolize heaven and earth. Therefore, the dish bears the wishes of a complete and prosperous new year. From the last day of the year, families go to the market, choosing the best pork belly, duck eggs, and fresh coconut water. All ingredients then are cooked in a big pot. Thanks to its savory taste, the dish is commonly loved. (Photo: Tasty Kitchen)
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Tet offerings in all different families always include boiled chicken. The chicken chosen must be male, tied in the wing to create a flying shape. When cooked, the chicken must have shiny yellow skin. After the worshiping ceremony, the chicken can be shredded to mix with the salad or cut into thin slices and eaten with salt, pepper and lemon leaves. (Photo: VN Express)
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Banh Tet is a traditional gift that reminds everyone of the ancestry. The dish is always present in ancestor worship rituals. Banh Tet is delicious with sticky rice, soft green beans, and salty meat. The making process of banh tet requires the whole family to sit together, therefore, this dish symbolizes family union under the warmth of the Lunar New Year’s spirit. (Photo: VN Express)
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Vietnamese believe that red is always the color that brings luck. Therefore, dishes that have the color red are popular on the Tet holiday. Owning a bright and playful shade of red, fresh sausage is a dish that many people love because of its delicious taste and short processing time. (Photo: VN Express)
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Families often add pickled onion to the food trays to reduce the fatty taste of meat dishes. The southerners often use the pickled roots and eat them with dried shrimp or stewed meat. (Photo: VN Express)
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Watermelon is often chosen to place on the family’s altar during most traditional occasions of the Vietnamese. Many people believe that watermelon brings New Year’s Fortune. If you have a watermelon that is juicy, and bright red, it is the signal of a lucky year. In addition, this is also a fruit with a lot of fiber, vitamins to supplement the body in Tet. (Photo: VN Express)
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On Tet, the southerners love to gather, eat and chat with their relatives and friends. On such occasions, the landlords offer candied fruits and tea. Tet candied fruits can be made from a variety of fruits and vegetables, with a variety of flavors, colors, and aromas. (Photo: VN Express)
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Besides candied fruits, melon seeds are also a popular dish. Melon seeds have additional nutrients for the body such as vitamins, magnesium, iron. Therefore, it is counted as a low-calorie, healthy food and suitable for those who want to stay diet on Tet. (Photo: VN Express)