What Dishes Served in Northern Vietnam's Traditional Tet Banquet?
Tet (Lunar New Year) is the time for all family members to get together while enjoying traditional dishes. No matter the family’s circumstances, people always prepare traditional dishes for ancestor worship with the hope that the ancestors will bless their descendants with good health, luck and prosperity in the Lunar New Year.
|A traditional food tray for Tet. Photo: VnExpress|
Tet is the most important festival of the year for Vietnamese people and a time for family reunions. It is an opportunity for descendants to invite the souls of their ancestors to join the family’s Tet celebration.
On these days, every home has a New Year’s offering tray in the North includes five-fruit tray, lamp incense, betel nut, Chung cake, tea and rice wine.
The altar may also be decorated with a branch of peach blossoms in warm pink to drive away evil spirits and bad luck.
The New Year’s Eve tray is a custom handed down for generations by his father on the occasion of the New Year to the spring, the New Year’s meal is usually prepared and starts in the afternoon or evening of the 30th day of the New Year.
Right on the afternoon of the 30th of the New Year, the New Year’s Eve tray will be made, preparing for the conclusion of the past year and welcoming the coming new year.
At this time, everyone will gather, gather at grandparents or parents’ house to have a New Year’s Eve meal. It also depends on the region or each family to decide whether to invite more guests or not.
|The very soul of Vietnamese Tet is banh chung (square glutinous rice cake). Source: Internet|
The indispensable dishes in the Northern Lunar New Year are banh chung (square sticky rice cake), boiled chicken, dua hanh (pickled welsh onion), gio lua (lean pork meatloaves), gio thu (pig’s head paste), thit dong (pork meat cut into pieces cooked with fish sauce and peppers until it is well stewed and then let it cool and freeze it on the refrigerator), nem ran (fried spring roll), canh mang (dried bamboo shoots soup), canh bong (pig’s dried skin soup), ga luoc (boiled chicken), gac sticky rice and three bowls of rice.
These dishes are chosen because the Northern people welcome spring in cold weather. Notably, meat jelly is a typical dish of the winter-spring season that other regions seldom have.
|Thit dong (pork meat cut into pieces cooked with fish sauce and peppers until it is well stewed and then let it cool and freeze it on the refrigerator). Source: Internet|
The Tet tray offered to the ancestors, especially in the North, must have a plate of boiled chicken. According to traditional customs, chicken has many good meanings because it is symbolic of aggression, strength, fullness, and well-being.
Chicken meat may be sliced or placed the whole chicken in a plate. The dish is often used along with salt-and-pepper-sauce and sliced lemon leaves.
Vietnamese people believe that the red color represents the wish for a happy, lucky, and prosperous new year. That is the reason why Vietnamese people often eat xôi gấc (Gac sticky rice) to make Tet more meaningful and colorful. Therefore, Starting a new year with xôi gấc will bring luck all year. Not only has beautiful color, Gac sticky rice is also loved for its delicious taste.
Each family also has its own variations, such as vermicelli soup, pickled cucumber dishes, chicken salad with laksa leaves, fried fish or ram and che kho (soft green bean) cake.
|During Tet, people prepare delicious specialties by themselves on this occasion to show respect for ancestors and grandparents.|
Nem ran (fried rolls), once only cooked for Tet parties, is now so popular with its aromatic crispy cover, tasty and delicious filling, and lightly salty, sour, sweet and peppery dipping sauce, that it can be had every day or every weekend.
A Tet offering tray should never lack a boiled rooster, because it is believed that offering this dish to Heaven and Earth on New Year Day will ensure an auspicious start and bring in an abundance of happiness.
Well-off families usually prepare 6 or even 8 potions of each dish for a Tet feast table.
|Vegans can also find in Vietnam many dishes that look like they’re made with real meat. For example, chicken legs are made of citronella stems with a special tofu wrapping that even has the texture of meat.|
For families that offer vegetarian dishes, it is easier with vegan banh chung (square glutinous rice cake), stir-fried vegetables, cha lua chay (veggie Vietnamese ham), sticky rice, sweet soup, fried tofu, vegetables soup.
Vegans can find in Vietnam a variety of vegetarian dishes. However, the most common vegan dishes are made of dau tuong (soybeans). Apart from tofu, steamed and fried, soybeans lend themselves to tương dau nanh (soya paste), cha lua chay (veggie Vietnamese ham) and a wide variety of other dips and dishes.
Vegans can also find in Vietnam many dishes that look like they’re made with real meat. For example, chicken legs are made of citronella stems with a special tofu wrapping that even has the texture of meat.
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