Hue Cuisine

Hue cuisine is distinctive: Vietnamese people regard it as the best in the country. There are two forms – Hue traditional food, which is explained on this page, and ‘Royal’ cuisine, the food of the Imperial Court.

Hue culinary traditions demand that meals must presented aesthetically, harmonising food elements, decorations and colours to create a gastronomic work of art. For example, the rice container must near a dish of salad vegetables, fermented bean sprouts, slices of red and green of chillies, slices of star fruit, round slices of bitter bananas, and a dish of sliced boiled pork arranged in a flower pattern. The array would include a dish of white or red flowers purely for decorative purposes to create a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach.

Most dishes are accompanied with sauces specific to the dish.

A typical example of basic Hue food is clam rice. A more complicated everyday meal is likely to include rice and three common dishes: ‘bong the’ (fish boiled with fish sauce and aromatic vegetables), boiled spinach with a prawn sauce and a bowl of soup containing small prawns and tamarind.

Daytime meals are usually eaten away from home and mostly consist of single basic dishes

Formal meals for special occasions or for welcoming guests are more elaborate, usually comprising five or more dishes. A typical ‘menu’ might include:

  • Fermented pork rolls (washed down with rice wine)
  • ‘Banh la’ (sweet sticky rice wrapped in leaves),
  • ‘Cha tom’ (a sort of shrimp pancake)
  • Boiled pork with a sour prawn sauce or fermented fish, vegetables, slices of star fruit and bitter bananas
  • Dried cuttlefish mixed with ‘thanh tra’ fruit
  • Fish steamed with mushrooms
  • Fatty meat
  • Soy sauce and ‘envelopes’ of mandarin fruit
  • Rice cooked with pineapple leaves

Dessert would normally be a bowl of sweet lotus seed soup or local fruit.

Hue delicacies

Flour based dishes
Banh Khoai: a crepe with a savoury filling accompanied by salad and a peanut-based sauce
Banh La Cha Tom: soft pastry wrapped in leaves with meat, shrimp and eggs
Banh Hot Thit Quay: roast pork in pastry
Banh Bot Loc Boc Tom Thit: rice pastry containing shrimp and meat
Bun Tuan: noodles with stir-fried beef or boiled pork with fermented ‘nem’ fish sauce
Bun Bo Gio Heo: noodles with beef and pork

Dessert dishes - all variations of ‘che’ (sweet soup)
Che Dau Van: sweet French bean soup
Che Dau Ngu: sweet bean soup
Che Hot Sen Boc Nhan: sweet lotus seeds and longan soup
Che Bot Loc Boc Thit Quay: sweet rice and roast pork soup

Vegetarian food
Hue is a major Buddhist centre so its vegetarian food is well-known. Unlike vegetarian food in Western countries, Hue chefs aim to replicate the taste of dishes such as roast pork cooked with fish sauce, chicken salad, beefsteak, grilled meat roll, pork bolognese, chicken and so on. It’s a fascinating concept, but far away from the attitudes of foreign vegetarians who are mostly motivated by health or ethical concerns.

If you're particularly interested in Hue cuisine, let us know, and we’ll arrange a local expert to provide you with more detailed information, and teach you how to cook it, if you wish.

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