Coast Cooking

Coast Cooking: Other things on the Vietnamese menu

By JULIAN BRUNT

Special to the Sun Herald

Vietnamese soups round out the menu.
Vietnamese soups round out the menu.

If you have been to a Vietnamese restaurant, chances are you tried the fresh spring rolls filled with shrimp, chopped lettuce and other good things.

Try the peanut dipping sauce, and you will have a wonderful, healthy and delicious snack.

Pho is not the only soup or stew on most Vietnamese restaurant menus. Look for Cambodian-style noodle soup, seafood soups, and even a rice-based soup that some people would call a gruel, but all are delicious.

You also will find a good selection of vegetarian dishes, such as stir fried veggies and several tofu dishes.

Try the tofu and black mushrooms for a real treat. The menu is usually broken down into rice-based dishes and noodle-based dishes, with the same offerings, just a different starch. The basics are grilled pork, chicken and shrimp.

Besides the Cambodian noodles mentioned above, look for thick, chewy udon noodles, egg noodles, and rice vermicelli noodles. The rice served will almost always be Thai jasmine rice.

You also might be surprised at the desserts. Many are brightly colored, vegetable based and with a coconut milk or cream component. If you are put off by the brilliant colors, go for the flan. It is another reminder that Vietnam was a French colony for more than 60 years.

The Vietnamese restaurants we are blessed with are a joy. The food can be hearty, vegetarian light and healthy, and almost all have a significant comfort factor. Get out there and give them a try.

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