Boiled Chicken - The traditional food in Tet

Traditional Food for Vietnamese Lunar New Year – Delicacies for Tet Celebrations

31 January, 2018
Vietnamese Food Culture
5 (100%) 3 votes

In the event of Tet holiday, what traditional food for Vietnamese lunar new year? To celebrate the most important holiday in the country, generations of the Vietnamese have been following their traditions to cook some special dishes, such as Banh Chung and Banh Tet (the steamed cake), Cu Kieu (the pickled onions), etc. Read on to know the special food for Tet in Vietnam.

#1: Banh Chung (The Square Steamed Cake) – The most typical food on Tet Festival

Eating well is a key to celebrate Tet in a right away. And, Banh Chung is the indispensable item for the Tet celebration particularly in the North of Vietnam. It is the square-shaped rice cake including sticky rice, seasoned pork, and mung bean, wrapped in the banana leaves. Also, some chefs might wrap the package in plastic, tie it with the little red or green ribbon, and stick a small red paper on it, which means good luck. Traditionally, the square shape of Banh Chung represents the Earth, associated with deep meanings of the universe. Besides the steamed version, the Northern people also prefer the fried version by frying Banh Chung on the nonstick frying pan with a little oil and moderate heat. Packages of this square-shaped cake take 6-8 hours of boiling to finish.

Banh Chung (The Square Steamed Cake) - The most typical food on Tet Festival
Banh Chung (The Square Steamed Cake) – The most typical food on Tet Festival

#2: Banh Tet (The Cylindrical Steamed Cake)

Banh Tet and Banh Chung include the similar ingredients of sticky rice, seasoned pork, and mung bean, but the difference lies in their shape. While Banh Chung is square and represents the Earth, Banh Tet is cylindrical which might represent the Moon. This is the popular item in the South of Vietnam, which also takes long hours for boiling. Generations of the Southern families often prepare and cook this special cake in the New Year’s Eve so that they have the great food ready on the first day of the New Year. The youth are expected to help clean the banana leaves and wrap the packages following the adults’ instructions while the mothers are in charge of seasoning the pork, steaming the mung beans, preparing the sticky rice, etc., and mixing them. All activities create the cozy and happy memories.

Banh Tet (The Cylindrical Steamed Cake) is more popular in thr South of Vietnam
Banh Tet (The Cylindrical Steamed Cake) is more popular in thr South of Vietnam

#3: Cu Kieu / Dua Muoi (The Pickles)

Various kinds of root vegetables and leeks can be fermented to create the pickles – the delicious item to eat with the braised pork and eggs in light fish sauce. In particular, the pickled small leeks are often prepared by the housewives in even weeks before the Tet holiday. Also, some families prefer to buy the plastic jars of the pickled onions in the local market. In any way, the pickles are so common that almost every family wants at least one jar available in their kitchens. This kind of traditional food for Vietnamese Lunar New Year is good for digestion of the other meat-rich dishes.

Cu Kieu / Dua Muoi (The Pickles)
Cu Kieu / Dua Muoi (The Pickles)

#4: Mut (The Candied Fruits)

This is the pure Vietnamese food part. The candied fruits are wildly popular in the local markets, which ensure every family can buy kilograms of the candied treats like coconut, sweet potato, tamarind, mango, etc. The brightly colored candied fruits are usually present on the tables to serve any guest who comes during the Tet spans. People of all ages love to chew it. So, if you travel to Vietnam on Tet and ask “what do Vietnamese eat for Lunar New Year?, then the answers should include the candied fruits.

Mut Tet - Candied Fruits
Mut Tet – Candied Fruits

#5: Yummy Seeds and Nuts

The most popular items are the salt roasted cashew nut, lotus seed, watermelon seed, sunflower seed, sesame seed candy, and peanut candy. You’re sure to find these seeds, nuts, and candies in the local markets during the Tet holiday for the easy purchase. If you have a chance to visit any Vietnamese family, it’s taken for granted that you will be invited to savor at least one kind of these mentioned seeds and nuts. Otherwise, you can buy the preferred yummy food and discover the taste by yourself. The chewing experience is rewarding.

Lotus seeds in Vietnsmese Tet Festival
Lotus seeds in Vietnsmese Tet Festival

#6: Boiled Chicken – The most popular food for Vietnamese Lunar New Year

Most of the altars to worship the ancestors in Vietnam have a space for the boiled chicken – the delicious food for Tet holidays. People might put the processed whole chicken to do worshipping, but some families might decide to chop the chicken into the little pieces and display them on the plate. The food should be topped with the Vietnamese coriander and eaten with the sauce including salt, pepper, and lemon juice. The yellow boiled and skin-perfect chicken represents the good beginning of the New Year.

Boiled Chicken - The traditional food in Tet
Boiled Chicken – The traditional food in Tet

#7: Nem Ran or Cha Gio (kinds of Vietnamese Spring Roll)

“Nem Ran” is the popular item in the daily meal as well as the indispensable food in the traditional tables for worshipping the ancestor in the Northern Vietnam. In the same sense, “Cha Gio” is the famous dish in the Southern Vietnam. Both are fried to be crunchy outside while the interior includes meat, egg, mushroom, onion, shrimp, peanut, etc. These kinds of spring roll are often served with the fresh vegetables, wrapped in the rice paper, and dipped into the fish sauce. The eye-catching display of both “Nem Ran” and “Cha Gio” is able to make you mouth-watering. As usual, the spring rolls should be served while it is still hot and crispy… See Vietnamese spring roll recipe here!

Nem Ran - Vietnamese Spring Roll
Nem Ran – Vietnamese Spring Roll

Top 7 traditional dishes of Vietnamese Tet holiday above are worth tasting to feel how the locals celebrate their Lunar New Year. No matter how modern a family is, everybody is advised to have some of the special food for Tet on their tables during the festive periods. Besides cleaning and decorating houses, and exchanging the best wishes, eating well is a must to do for the Tet celebrations. So if you arrive in Vietnamese during the special occasion when the whole country joins the relaxing vibe, feel free to savor the Vietnamese traditional food for Tet that you find along the way. In fact, Vietnamese Lunar New Year is also an excellent occasion for the overseas foodies to eat the Tet delicacies which are rarely found at the other times.