Essential dishes for Tet holiday in Central Vietnam

Tet holiday is one of the most important events of Vietnamese people. Traveling to Vietnam during this special occasion, tourists will have a chance to discover Vietnam cuisine with some traditional dishes that are appreciated in both appearance and meaning.

Due to the differences in culture, customs, and natural conditions, the dishes in the meal for New Year’s Eve in each region of Vietnam also have their own features and special tastes. Today, let’s explore some traditional dishes in Tet holiday of central people in Vietnam!

Because of the harsh climate, the life of people in the Central region is harder and poorer in the comparison with other lives in the North and the South part. However, on Tet holiday, like all places in the whole country, Central people still celebrate Tet holiday warmly on their own traditional custom.

Similar to other parts of Vietnam, the Central people usually prepare for this special occasion from 20th Lunar December. During this time, the streets begin crowded and bustling with people going shopping for Tet preparation. In the family, everyone starts to clean and decorate their house with flowers in a hustle atmosphere to welcome a new year. On the 30th Lunar December, people in this region will prepare a special meal to say goodbye to the old year and worship their ancestors. The feast will have Tet Cake, pork meat soaked in fish sauce, Nem chua (fermented pork roll), pork roll, jelly pork, Hue pork rolls, etc. People in there also cannot explain the meaning of these dishes as symbols of Tet holiday for a long time. They only know that these are customs and traditions that are passed away through generations. The meal for New Year’s Eve of people in there is cooked very skillfully and meticulously. The foods are divided into small dishes and arranged on a round tray. After worshipping the ancestors, family’s members will put down the tray from the altar and gather to eat together in a warm atmosphere.

Tet in Vietnam

The meal prepared on 30th Lunar December of the Central people

Some traditional dishes in New Year’s Eve meal:

Tet Cake

If Chung cake is a must-eat food for the Lunar New Year in Northern Vietnam, in the Central area, Tet cake with strong taste is an indispensable dish in the New Year’s Eve. It’s also made from sticky rice, pork belly, and mung bean and wrapped in banana leaves like Chung cake but is packed into long and thin cylindrical shape instead of square one.

Tet Cake

Tet cake

Pork meat soaked in fish sauce

Pork meat soaked in fish sauce is a favorite dish in the tray the Central people during Tet holiday. This dish is made from boiled pork soaked in fish sauce mixed with sugar and vinegar. Next, this mixture will be put in glass jars for about 3 days. It will be more delicious when eating with Dua mon (Vietnamese brined vegetables)

Pork meat soaked in fish sauce

Pork meat soaked in fish sauce

Cha Hue (Vietnamese Hue-style ham)

Traditionally, Cha Hue is made from lean pork, garlic, potato starch, whole black peppercorns, and fish sauce. Then the mixture is wrapped tightly in banana leaves into a cylindrical shape and boiled. If the banana leaf is not wrapped tightly, the water will be leaked inside while it is being boiled, making Cha Hue spoil easily if it’s kept at room temperature.

Cha Hue

Cha Hue – typical dish in the Central region

Nem chua (Vietnamese fermented pork roll)

Nem Chua is usually eaten during the Lunar New Year by most Vietnamese families in the Central region. Traditionally, Nem chua is made from minced pork, sliced pigskin, garlic, and seasonings. These ingredients are mixed thoroughly before being wrapped in fresh banana leaves into small rolls. Then it will be stored for natural fermentation process for about three to five days in a cool place. The sour, sweet, salty and spicy taste of this dish will make your mouth water right after one bite.  

Nem Chua

Nem chua

Dua mon (Vietnamese brined vegetables)

Dua mon (Vietnamese brined vegetables) is another popular dish that can be easily found on tables of Vietnamese families during lunar new year celebrations. It’s a combination of many different vegetables such as daikon, cucumber, green papaya, carrots which are brined in a prepared fish sauce mixed with sugar and vinegar. Dua mon is best eaten with traditional Chung and Tet cake or meat dishes.

Dua Mon

Dua mon in Central Vietnam

Banh to

Banh to is a combination of sesame, ginger, black sugar and glutinous rice. This traditional delicacy can be cut into slices for immediate use or baked on a charcoal stove for softening or fried in peanut oil.