10 Must-Try Vietnamese Meat Dishes from TasteAtlas

TasteAtlas, a renowned food review website, has released a list highlighting some of the most beloved meat dishes in Vietnam. These dishes have been highly praised by food enthusiasts from all of Vietnam's provinces.

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Taste Atlas is a reputable food website that was founded by a Croatian journalist and businessman in 2015. Over the years, this food site has ranked many famous dishes and received recognition from food lovers all over the world.

Grilled Sapa Black Chicken (Ga Den Nuong)

Photo: Dien may XANH
Photo: Dien may XANH

Ga Den, also known as black chicken or Silkie chicken, is the main ingredient in a traditional Vietnamese dish originating from Sapa’s H’mong people. This breed of Silkie chicken has black skin, flesh, and bones. The dish is prepared with marinated black chicken that’s usually marinated in galangal, honey, lemon or kaffir lime leaves, sesame seeds, chili powder, fish sauce, lemongrass, shallots, salt, and pepper.

The chicken pieces are then chargrilled until done and served on a platter, often garnished with watercress or chili peppers. It’s recommended to serve the dish with steamed jasmine rice on the side.

Beef in Vinegar Hot Pot (Bo Nhung Dam)

Photo: Western Culinary Arts School
Photo: Western Culinary Arts School

Bo Nhung Dam in Vietnamese literally means “beef dipped in vinegar”. The dish is prepared with a vinegar-based hot pot, then raw beef slices are dipped first in the hot pot to get cooked and then in a dipping sauce. However, this is not a real hotpot dish because diners will not dip vegetables in the hot pot. Dipped beef slices can be eaten as is or can be wrapped and rolled with bún noodle (Vietnamese rice vermicelli) like spring rolls.

The dipping sauce is made from “mam nem” sauce, a pungent fermented fish sauce, mixed with several ingredients to balance the taste.

Vietnamese Shaking Beef (Bo Luc Lac)

Photo: Co Ba Binh Duong
Photo: Co Ba Binh Duong

The main star of Bo Luc Lac is diced marinated beef. The meat is shortly seared before it is served on a bed of watercress and sliced tomatoes. Additional toppings may include pickled onions, and a dipping sauce resembling a lime-based vinaigrette can be drizzled over the meat or served on the side.

The dish was once a rare treat that was mainly prepared and served on special events. Nowadays, it is more common, but bò lúc lắc is still considered a restaurant specialty and a dish that is traditionally reserved for special occasions.

Vietnamese Pork Aspic (Thit Dong)

Photo: Dien may Xanh
Photo: Dien may Xanh

Thit Dong is a Vietnamese take on aspic. The dish is prepared by slowly boiling pork meat and various pork cuts such as trotters and hocks, as well as pork skin, carrots, mushrooms, and different spices. When cooked, the combination is left to set until it achieves its typical jellied texture.

The dish is usually associated with northern Vietnam, and it is often enjoyed on Vietnamese New Year. It is best served with pickled onions and a bowl of rice on the side.

Grilled Beef Wrapped in Betel Leaf (Bo La Lot)

Photo: Cookpad
Photo: Cookpad

Bo La Lot is a Vietnamese dish consisting of ground beef that is combined with spices and onions before it is wrapped in lolot leaves (occasionally known as wild betel). The rolls are then grilled over charcoal, and they are traditionally served together with rice noodles, rice paper, lettuce, herbs, pickles, and dipping sauces.

It is recommended to enjoy Bo La Lot by wrapping it in rice paper along with side dishes, garnishes, and condiments.

Boiled Chicken (Ga Luoc)

Photo: Maggie
Photo: Maggie

Ga Luoc is a traditional dish consisting of a whole boiled chicken. Although the dish has origins in Chinese cuisine, it’s particularly popular in northern Vietnam during the celebration of Lunar New Year (Tet). Ga Luoc is made with a combination of a whole chicken, ginger, salt, scallions, turmeric, and sometimes lime leaf strands.

The chicken is rubbed with salt, then boiled in water with ginger, scallions, and turmeric until shiny and golden. It’s important to keep the skin intact as it can break if the chicken is submerged in boiling water. Once boiled, it’s soaked in ice water in order to stop cooking and prevent darkening.

Raw Blood Pudding (Tiet Canh)

Photo: Bach hoa XANH
Photo: Bach hoa XANH

This vibrant red Vietnamese dish is prepared with fresh animal blood that is mixed with fish sauce. The base is then seasoned and incorporated with fried or roasted meat before it is left to coagulate. When set, the base transforms into a thick, gelatinous pudding that’s usually garnished with chopped peanuts, Vietnamese coriander, and mint.

The dish is traditionally prepared on special occasions and, though it has caused much controversy due to the danger of ingesting meat bacteria, it has not been officially banned.

Vietnamese Chicken Curry

Photo: Bep Truong A Au
Photo: Bep Truong A Au

Ca ri ga is a Vietnamese version of Indian chicken curry. The dish is fairly easy to prepare and uses ingredients such as chicken pieces, potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, coconut milk, chicken broth, and herbs and flavorings such as lemongrass, fish sauce, bay leaves, and curry powder.

The meat should ideally be marinated overnight. The curry is simmered until the potatoes become tender and all the other ingredients are fully cooked. It’s recommended to serve the dish with steamed white rice and a crusty baguette on the side, which is often used for dipping.

Grilled Pork Meatballs with Vermicelli Noodles (Bun Cha)

Photo: Bach hoa XANH
Photo: Bach hoa XANH

Bun Cha is a pork and noodle dish that is intricately connected to Hanoi, where it is believed to have originated. The dish combines three elements: a bowl of grilled pork meatballs served in a cold broth, a plate of rice noodles, and a combination of various fresh greens such as perilla leaves, lettuce, coriander, and morning glory.

Although Bun Cha or similar varieties can be found in other parts of Vietnam, the local Hanoi version is held in high regard. Not much is known about its history or origin, but the dish became internationally recognized in 2016 when it was featured on the show Parts Unknown – in which the host Anthony Bourdain enjoyed bún chả together with the former president Barack Obama.

Vietnamese Beef Stew (Bo Kho)

Photo: Nguyen Kim
Photo: Nguyen Kim

Bo Kho is a popular Vietnamese beef stew that can be consumed on its own or accompanied by a baguette on the side. It can also be served over noodles, and it is customary to serve a variety of fresh herbs on the side. The dish includes ingredients such as diced beef, carrots, lemongrass, cinnamon, chili, pepper, garlic, and shallots, all of them simmered in a spicy and aromatic broth.

The origins of Bo Kho are still a mystery, although it is believed that the dish has many influences from both the East and the West. In rural areas of Vietnam, the stew is usually much spicier than in urban areas. It is traditionally consumed for breakfast, garnished with chopped green onions, coriander, and onions.

Charlotte Pho