13 Essential Vietnamese Recipes for Your Daily Dose of Fish Sauce

Vietnamese classic recipes (and not-so-classics) full of fresh herbs, punchy chile, and deep, fragrant broths

Leafy herbs, noodle soups, aromatic broths, spicy chiles—Vietnamese recipes, let us count the way we love you. Here are our favorites—traditional and otherwise—that we think you should cook right now.

Danny Bowien’s Hanoi-Style Breakfast Pho

Danny Bowien’s Hanoi-Style Breakfast Pho »

Bowien serves this soup as part of a breakfast menu. The dish is inspired by the Vietnamese soups he ate at Turtle Tower in San Francisco when he was a culinary student. Bowien simmers the simple chicken broth for just a short period after bringing it to a boil because he feels that the flavor goes flat if you cook the broth for too long. Get the recipe for Danny Bowien’s Hanoi-Style Breakfast Pho »

Pho Bac

Pho Bac

A fragrant and satisfying appetizer (as well as an excellent use for leftover roast pork and poached or steamed shrimp), these flavorful bundles are great dipped in nuoc cham, a sweet and spicy Vietnamese sauce. Get the recipe for Pho Bac »

Vietnamese Pork Meatball and Noodle Salad (Bun Cha)

Vietnamese Pork Meatball and Noodle Salad (Bun Cha)

In Lauren Shockey’s culinary memoir Four Kitchens13 Essential Vietnamese Recipes for Your Daily Dose of Fish Sauce(Grand Central Publishing, 2011), in which this recipe appears, the author writes: “After pho, bun cha is one of Hanoi’s most famous dishes and is a delicious summertime lunch or light dinner. In Hanoi, you’ll know you’re at a bun cha stand by the smoke wafting from the charcoal grills. Living in New York City, I don’t have the luxury of cooking pork on a charcoal grill, but my stove’s broiler works just fine.” Get the recipe for Vietnamese Pork Meatball and Noodle Salad (Bun Cha) »

Leafy-Green Shrimp Rolls

Vietnamese Lettuce Wraps

A fragrant and satisfying appetizer (as well as an excellent use for leftover roast pork and poached or steamed shrimp), these flavorful bundles are great dipped in nuoc cham, a sweet and spicy Vietnamese sauce. Get the recipe for Vietnamese Lettuce Wraps »

Summer Roll with Dipping Sauce (Gỏi Cuon Sot Tuong)

Summer Roll with Dipping Sauce (Gỏi Cuon Sot Tuong)

We based this recipe on one in Vietnamese cooking authority Mai Pham’s book Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table (HarperCollins, 2001). Look in your local Asian market for the Asian ingredients. Get the recipe for Summer Roll with Dipping Sauce (Gỏi Cuon Sot Tuong) »

Crab-Filled Crispy Wrappers

Crab Spring Rolls

For making spring rolls, most Vietnamese-American home cooks use the spongy, wheat-based wrappers called TYJ Spring Roll Pastry, which are made by the Spring Home company. They’re available frozen at most Asian food stores. Get the recipe for Crab Spring Rolls »

Banh Mi

Banh Mi Sandwich

According to Andrea Nguyen, author of Into the Vietnamese Kitchen (Ten Speed Press, 2006), the baguette for this iconic Vietnamese sandwich “should be light and airy, with a very delicate crumb that does not fight you, but just frames the sandwich.” This recipe first appeared in our April 2011 special Sandwich Issue with Nguyen’s article Street Hero. Get the recipe for Banh Mi Sandwich »

Sweet and Sour Caramel Catfish Soup

Sour Fish Soup (Canh Chua Cá)

Southern Vietnamese cooks often simmer catfish steaks with caramel sauce, and use the fish’s head and tail in this refreshing soup brightened with tamarind and pineapple. Serve with rice, and that’s my quintessential Vietnamese meal. Get the recipe for Sour Fish Soup (Canh Chua Cá »)

Vietnamese-Style Pork Collar

Pork collar is a great cut for a long marinade and a quick cook time—it gets nice and crispy on the outside and stays juicy inside, thanks to its marbled fat. Get the recipe for Vietnamese-Style Pork Collar »

Pork collar is a great cut for a long marinade and a quick cook time—it gets nice and crispy on the outside and stays juicy inside, thanks to its marbled fat. This recipe comes courtesy of chef Chris Shepherd of Underbelly in Houston. Get the recipe for Vietnamese-Style Pork Collar »

…or Some Thick, Juicy, Lemongrass-Scented Pork Chops

Vietnamese Caramelized Pork Chops (Suon Nuong)

Three of these ultra-thin ¼”-thick pork chops for this dish, flavored with a caramel-lemongrass marinade, can be cut from one hefty American-style pork chop. This recipe first appeared in the 2012 SAVEUR 100, with the story Vietnamese Pork Chops. Get the recipe for Vietnamese Caramelized Pork Chops (Suon Nuong)

Coupled with a Refreshing Dip

Vietnamese Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham)

This classic sweet-sour condiment is an ideal accompaniment for grilled chicken wings. Get the recipe for Vietnamese Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham) »

Vietnamese-Style Sautéed Beef

Vietnamese-Style Sautéed Beef

The key to making this dish (from San Francisco’s Slanted Door), often called “shaking beef”, is to sear the meat in small batches in a very hot wok or skillet so that it browns quickly. Get the recipe for Vietnamese-Style Sautéed Beef »

Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream

Sweetened condensed milk and a touch of spice set this caffeinated treat apart from other coffee ice creams. Get the recipe for Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream »

Sweetened condensed milk and a touch of spice set this caffeinated treat apart from other coffee ice creams. Get the recipe for Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream »