Top 10 the most famous Vietnamese Spices
Vietnamese cuisine has a distinctive flavor which originates from main spices such as ginger, garlic and hot chili peppers. Quickly toast the spices in a dry skillet to bring out the strength of the flavors. Although you can find the basic spices used in Vietnamese cooking in most American grocery stores, visit an East Asian grocery store also for other traditional ingredients, such as the pungent fish sauce, a staple in Vietnamese cuisine.
Annatto seeds Annatto seeds, also known “cà ri” seeds , is used to look like Indians, and it has a very nice aroma and color. The Vietnamese use annatto seeds in dishes mainly to add color to them. These tiny seeds have a mild flavor and add a red-orange color to the dishes. Saute or grind annatto seeds to bring out their aroma and color.
Chilies Hot, red chilies are a staple in Vietnamese marinades and other dishes. These include the tiny, exceptionally hot bird’s-eye chilies. Use whole dried chilies after removing the seeds or use dried flakes.
Cinnamon Cinnamon continues to be a popular spice used in Vietnamese cuisine, especially in stews, soups and desserts. You can use this reddish-brown or yellow-brown tree bark as dried, rolled-up strips or ground. Garlic Almost every Vietnamese dish contains garlic. Look for the small cloves when selecting fresh garlic–these have a sweeter taste. If you have larger cloves, remove the small sprout inside–this sprout makes the garlic taste bitter.
Ginger Vietnamese stocks, seafood and braised dishes often contain fresh ginger root, a light-brown, gnarly root with a pungent, peppery, sweet taste. Braised dishes are browned in fat, then simmered in a covered container, in a small amount of liquid. Clean and peel the ginger root before using it, then chop or slice the ginger.
Star anise Star anise tastes like licorice and looks like eight-pointed stars. Originating in China, the Vietnamese use star anise ground or whole in sweet desserts as well as in main dishes and soups.
Sugar Vietnamese cuisine always includes cane sugar, which when caramelized, provides a rich flavor to sauces and marinades.
Turmeric The Vietnamese use turmeric mainly to add its natural orange or deep, bright yellow coloring to marinades. Turmeric has a mild, acidic flavor and a shape almost like the ginger root. Wear gloves when you use whole turmeric since it stains your skin.
Curry powder The main spices blended to create curry powder include turmeric, onion, garlic and cayenne pepper. Curry powder can be mild or spicy and appears bright yellow from the turmeric.
Five-spice powder Originating in Chinese cuisine, the pungent, five-spice powder contains a combination of licorice root, fennel seeds, cinnamon, cloves and star anise. The Vietnamese use a small amount of five-spice powder in grilled meats, poultry, marinades and stews.