Cooking Vietnamese comfort food

Eric and Sophie Banh make it easy to cook great Vietnamese dishes at home

Vietnamese pantry staples
Photo by Thomas J. Story

Vietnamese pantry staples

  • Broken rice. By-product of processing rice; stickier and softer than whole-grain.
  • Litchi purée. From juicy litchis, a fruit native to China.
  • Mint. A staple; always used fresh.
  • Oolong tea. Falls between black and green tea, flavor-wise.
  • Shiso (perilla). Aromatic, notch-edged herb; is red or green.
  • Thai basil. Narrow-leafed, with purplish stem and anisey scent.
  • Vegetarian “oyster” sauce. Eric prefers this variety, made from mushrooms, to regular oyster sauce for its more consistent quality.
  • Vietnamese fish sauce. Pressed from salted, fermented anchovies. Mild Three Crabs brand is fine for cooking, says Eric; for bolder flavor, he likes single-press Red Boat.
  • Vietnamese pickled leeks. Crunchy and mildly spicy-sweet.


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