Rice is the staple in Vietnamese meals. People often combine it with fried, stir-fried, braised, or soup dishes. However, there are other unique pairings that will surprise many people. The most common is rice and fresh fruit.
Fresh fruits are not only used as a dessert, but also a side dish to accompany rice. Although it may sound strange to tourists and people from other regions, this is a familiar style of eating in the Mekong Delta. Most of the locals have experienced this from their childhood to adulthood. When it originated remains unknown, all we know is that it has existed in the territory of the Mekong Delta for a long time, and then became the eating habits of people living there.
Why do people in the Mekong Delta have this unique way of eating?
The people of this land are known to be generous and easygoing. They can eat the most humble food, as long as it makes them full. White rice must always be in daily meals. It is starchy and hot, so when eaten with cool fruit, swallowing is easier. This style allows you to eat quickly on busy days, instead of thinking about what to cook. Besides, in this region, there are vast rice fields and fruit gardens, so eating rice with fruit is also a way to save money.
Besides, this can even spice up your routine and whet your appetite.
What fruits do people use?
Mango is the most popular fruit to use, but it is not the famous mango sticky rice from Thailand that many people know. The latter is a dessert, while the former is a main course in the meal.
People in the Mekong Delta cut the fruit into square pieces if it’s ripe or long slices if it’s green, and then serve them with hot white rice. There can also be chili fish sauce, braised fish or kho quẹt (caramelized fish sauce.) Some eat mango rice with dried fish (usually dried snakehead fish). Mix the sliced green mango with shredded dried fish and dip it in sugared fish sauce. You’ll have something extremely “đưa cơm”(a Vietnamese word used to describe a dish so good that you’ll eat a lot of rice).
After mango, banana is the second most popular fruit to eat with rice. It is not only a dessert or a baking ingredient.
You can use green or ripe bananas. Because of green banana’s acrid taste, people dip them in braised meat sauce or caramelized fish sauce. As for ripe bananas, people cut them into thin slices and eat them with rice, maybe with soy sauce or fish sauce.
For people in the countryside, white rice, ripe bananas and soy sauce are common vegetarian meals.
In addition to being a dessert, watermelon is also considered a main dish.
Watermelon is inherently rich in water and has a crispy texture. When chewing, you will feel the cool sweetness of juice, so when eaten with rice, it feels very comfortable and easy to swallow. People cut watermelon into bite-sized chunks, which can then be eaten with white rice and soy sauce or gravy.
The Mekong Delta is also known as the “capital of coconut”. This tree is seen everywhere, especially in Bến Tre. In fact, white rice with coconut water is a common eating style for the people here. Pick a coconut, cut off the top and pour the water straight into a bowl of white rice, you’ll have a simple and refreshing meal. In addition, the combination of coconut milk with porridge or salty foods such as braised fish, salted eggs is also a specialty here.
From the fruits of their homeland, people of the Mekong Delta have created a unique way of eating, bringing diversity to Vietnamese cuisine. The combination of sweetness with white rice may be strange to you, but it is familiar to many locals. Why not try this eating style after reading this article? It won’t take you too much money and effort.
This post is also available in: Tiếng Việt