Vietnamese iced coffee martinis
This condiment, made from salted anchovies, is ubiquitous in this part of the world. Don’t be put off by its pungent aroma – it brings a salty umaminess when used sparingly. Look for Vietnamese-branded fish sauces, which are slightly milder than their Thai counterparts. Red Boat – made on the island of Phu Quoc and from the first pressing of the anchovies – is the ‘extra-virgin’ of fish sauces (available at redboatfishsauce.co.uk and amazon.co.uk). Hung Thanh Phu Quoc is an award-winning fish sauce, with a higher concentration of anchovy compared to other brands (available from
Similar to European sweet basil in flavour, although packing more punch and spice. The main difference is its robustness – it keeps well in the humid heat of Vietnam, where sweet basil would have wilted long ago. This translates into cooking too: stirred through soups and curries at the end, it retains its flavour and structure (available from large supermarkets and
Often making up the starch element on the table, any dish with ‘bún’ in the name means there’ll be noodles on the plate. Look out for dried rice vermicelli noodles – we like Mama, which are flatter in shape and great at soaking up flavours (available from large supermarkets and
Don’t be put off by the amount in these recipes – they work due to the careful balance of South-East Asian flavour profiles – hot, salty, sweet and sour. What sets Vietnamese food apart from others in the region is the sweetness being slightly more prominent but still carefully balanced with lime, chilli and lots of fresh herbs. A love of sweetness is obvious in Vietnamese iced coffee – condensed milk is tempered with eye-openingly strong coffee.
These fiery peppers make up in heat what they lack in size. Used sparingly they can add little pops of spice along with a fruity flavour. They are most commonly found in Vietnamese dipping sauces, so you can choose how to add those bursts of heat to your food (widely available in supermarkets).