Vietnamese pantry

Vietnamese pantry

Andreas Pohl, Tracey Lister
0 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
Michael Fountoulakis

Annatto seeds

These smd red seeds come from a tree that was originally grown in South America. They are used mainly for colouring as they have very little flavour.

Banh beo flour

A prepared mixture of rice flour, cornflour and potato flour. Banh beo flour is used to make Hue's steamed rice cakes.

Banh xeo flour

A prepared mixture of rice flour, self-raising flour and turmeric. Banh xeo flour is used for making the popular Saigon pancake.

Coconut milk

Coconut milk is produced by soaking grated coconut flesh in hot water. The milk is then extracted by squeezing the flesh through fine cloth. Coconut milk is creamy in appearance and readily available in tins.

Cellophane noodles

These thin, white noodles are made from mung beans and become translucent once prepared. They are also referred to as mungbean noodles or bean-thread noodles. While they are considered to be rather bland on their own, they readily take on other flavours.

Dried chestnuts

The wrinkly, dried chestnut needs to be reconstituted before use. Dried chestnuts are imported from China and feature in northern Vietnamese soups, salads and hotpots.

Dried Chinese mushrooms

These mushrooms are similar to dried shiitake mushrooms, but are not as pungent. An excellent addtion to most stir-kies.

Dried squid

Dried squid should be cardboard-thin, flat, amber in colour and coated in a fine, white dust. It is used for its sweet, smoky flavour and chewy texture in soups, salads and stir-fries.

Fermented prawns (mem tom)

A strong-smelling, violet-coloured sauce can be made from fermented prawns. This sauce is a key ingredient in cha ca, and is also presented as a dipping sauce.

Goji berries

Also called wolfberries, these dried fruits from the Chinese boxthorn are considered to be a medicinal food. They are used for their anti-ageing benefits and to assist the immune system. Goji berries are often infused to make a tea, or added to dishes f or their tartness and licorice flavour.

Green rice

Green rice is a young, sticky rice scented with pandan leaf. It is often used to give pork mince a silken texture, or to give fish cakes a crispy coating when fried.


Also cded red dates, these dried fruits come from a small bush that is grown in the mountainous regions of China. They are often featured in dshes kom northem Vietnam, particularly around the New Year (Tet), as their red colour symbolises good luck.

Lotus leaf

The large, fan-shaped leaf of the lotus plant is a vibrant green when fresh. When dried, the lotus leaf turns pale, with a faint aroma. Dry leaves need to be reconstituted with water before use.

Mung beans

This small bean in a green husk becomes yellow once peeled and split. Bean sprouts are the shoots of the mung-bean plant.

Palm sugar

This sweet, coconut-scented sap from the palm tree is sold in blocks and used extensively in South-East Asian cuisine.

Pho noodles

These rounded rice noodles are sold fresh and are best used on the day they are purchased. They only need to be heated in hot water briefly before being served.

Pickled prawns

These small prawns are left in their shells, pickled in rice wine and then air-dried. After drying, they are marinated in sugar, garlic and chilli, and are sold in jars in most Asian supermarkets.

Rice-paddy herb

Rice-paddy herb has a subtle cumin and citrus flavour. The pale green leaves on thick hollow stems add spice to salads and soups.

Rice flour

This flour is produced from ground rice and is used for making rice-paper wrappers, noodles and pancakes.

Rice vermicelli

Usually sold dry, these noodles are made from rice flour and need to be soaked in boiling water prior to use.

Rice vinegar

This clear vinegar is made from fermented sticky rice. It is slightly milder than European vinegars and less sweet than Japanese rice vinegars.

Saw tooth herb

The long, serrated leaves of saw tooth herb have a strong coriander flavour and the herb is also known as saw tooth coriander. The raw leaf is rather tough and needs to be finely sliced for salads. However they quickly soften when used in soups.

Sesame rice crackers

Thin rice crackers topped with white or black sesame seeds are commonly sold in Asian supermarkets. They should be grilled or baked gently, prior to being served with a meal. Usually dipped in salads and stir-fries, they also make a great snack.

Tapioca flour

This very fine flour is made from the root of the cassava plant. Cassava is originally from the US, but is now common throughout South-East Asia. It is favoured for its high starch content.

Wood ear mushrooms

These mild-tasting black fungi are used mainly for their chewy texture. They can be purchased fresh or dried.

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