TasteAtlas: 6 Authentic Vietnamese Snacks Ranked Among Asia’s Finest

Spring rolls, "Banh Xeo", sugar cane shrimp, "Banh Khot" and various other traditional Vietnamese dishes have been ranked among the top 100 best snacks in Asia by TasteAtlas.

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Vietnamese cuisine is a unique blend of various spices and fresh ingredients. It is diverse, flavorful, exotic, and varies from region to region. Vietnamese cuisine is not just about the dishes and recipes, it also represents a rich cultural heritage.

Similar to other Asian cuisines, Vietnamese cuisine focuses on the balance between yin and yang, which is believed to be beneficial for the body. When preparing Vietnamese dishes, cooks combine yin-cool ingredients with yang-hot ones to achieve a harmonious balance. A dish with cooling properties is typically served with hot spices, and vice versa.

Unlike Western cuisine, which often relies heavily on meat, or Chinese dishes that can be greasy, Vietnamese cuisine is characterized by its low-fat content. The dishes are primarily boiled, steamed, stewed, or braised to preserve the nutrients of the ingredients. Vegetables and herbs are commonly used to enhance the flavors and nutritional value. Vietnamese cuisine is considered one of the healthiest cuisines in the world.

Vietnamese Fried Spring Rolls (Cha Gio)

Known as Cha Gio in the south and Nem Ran in northern Vietnam, fried spring rolls are a popular dish with a delightful combination of pork, shrimp, and aromatic fillings wrapped in delicate rice paper, according to Taste Atlas.

Fried spring rolls, also known as Cha Gio or Nem Ran, are a popular Vietnamese dish. Photo: Taste Atlas

The filling can include various vegetables such as carrots, cabbage, mushrooms, glass noodles, and bean sprouts. These rolls are quickly fried to achieve a crispy golden exterior, with a light and thin layer that encases the flavorful filling.

Although they were influenced by Chinese cuisine, Vietnamese fried spring rolls have developed their own distinct character and have become one of the most common dishes in the country. They are typically served as an appetizer but can also be enjoyed as a satisfying main course.

Banh Xeo

Commonly known as sizzling pancakes, “Banh Xeo” is a famous Vietnamese dish that combines crispy crepes with a variety of savory ingredients. The use of rice flour, combined with water, turmeric, and coconut milk or cream, gives these pancakes their unique texture and yellow color.

Banh Xeo, also known as sizzling pancakes, is a popular Vietnamese dish. Photo: Taste Atlas

Additional ingredients such as scallions, bean sprouts, shrimps, and pork or beef cubes are sautéed before being added to the pancake batter. The pancake is then cooked at a low temperature, gently folded in half, and served with fresh lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, as well as herbs like cilantro, mint, and parsley.

Vietnamese Summer Rolls (Goi Cuon)

These crispy summer rolls are made by wrapping soaked rice paper (Banh Trang) around a variety of ingredients. While meat or seafood such as beef, pork, shrimp, or crab are commonly used, the highlight of the dish is the abundance of fresh herbs and vegetables like mint, cilantro, cucumbers, and mushrooms.

These crispy summer rolls are made by wrapping soaked rice paper (Banh Trang) around a variety of ingredients. Photo: Taste Atlas

The summer rolls are served at room temperature or chilled, accompanied by fish sauce, peanut sauce, or hoisin sauce. It is worth mentioning that these Vietnamese rolls were included in CNN’s list of the world’s 50 best foods.

Sugar Cane Shrimp (Chao Tom)

This traditional Vietnamese snack consists of shrimp paste that is wrapped around a sugar cane. The paste is often seasoned with garlic, spices, and occasionally pork paste before being shaped around the cane and cooked by steaming, grilling, or frying.

This traditional Vietnamese snack consists of shrimp paste that is wrapped around a sugar cane. Photo: Taste Atlas

Originating from Hue, Central Vietnam, this dish is enjoyed throughout the country. While it is traditionally served on special occasions, it has become a popular appetizer or light snack. The shrimp paste can be enjoyed as a whole, or it can be removed from the cane and wrapped in lettuce before being dipped into the accompanying sauce.

In addition to the dipping sauce, “Chao Tom” is often served with fresh vegetables and rice noodles.

Deep-fried Glutinous Rice Balls (Banh Ran)

“Banh Ran” is a beloved Vietnamese snack made from glutinous rice flour balls that are typically filled with red bean paste and then deep-fried until golden and crispy. The filling is often flavored with jasmine flower essence, and the fried balls are usually coated in sesame seeds.

Banh Ran is a popular Vietnamese snack made from glutinous rice flour balls that are typically filled with red bean paste and then deep-fried until golden and crispy. Photo: Taste Atlas

There is also a savory version of “Banh Ran” that is oval-shaped and often served with a dipping sauce made from fish sauce, sugar, vinegar, chili, and garlic.

Vietnamese Mini Savory Pancakes (Banh Khot)

“Banh Khot” is a savory Vietnamese pancake made from a thin rice flour batter and cooked on outdoor grills using a special terracotta Banh Khot mold. The batter is poured into the mold, and the pancake is then topped with various savory ingredients.

Banh Khot is a savory Vietnamese pancake made from a thin rice flour batter and cooked on outdoor grills using a special terracotta Banh Khot mold. Photo: Taste Atlas

Once cooked, these bite-sized pancakes are often served with fragrant herbs and leafy vegetables, which can be used as wrappers. They are also accompanied by fish sauce. It is important to note that “Banh Khot” should not be confused with “Banh Can” (as it is known in Central Vietnam), as “Banh Khot” has a crunchier texture and is fried until crispy with added turmeric, giving it a yellow color, whereas “Banh Can” does not contain turmeric.

Charlotte Pho