Memos from Asia

10 All-time Favorite Vietnamese Snacks You Need to Try Right Now

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Street food vendor in Da Lat, Vietnam

Munching on tasty finger food is always the best stress-relieving therapy. No matter where we live, there’s always an assortment of snacks that have been connected to our souls ever since we’re just little kids. Smack dab here in Vietnam, a Southeast Asian country with a full-on and colorful dining culture, our snack collection is fun and tasty just like yours!

Are you a big foody about to visit Vietnam anytime soon? Let’s dive right into our list below and unfold 10 best Vietnamese snacks you must bring home right now!

Fermented Pork Cake (Vietnamese Name: Nem Chua)

Let’s start with something exotic! This is one of my favorite go-to bites whenever my stomach is full after a hearty meal but still looking for something fun to munch on.

Known as Nem Chua in Vietnamese, fermented pork cake comes out in a small cube wrapped around by banana leaf. The meat is made of cured and fermented minced pork featuring one or two slices of chilies, garlic, and a few pieces of black peppers.

Bizarre as it sounds, fermented pork is totally safe to consume.

In fact, it gives off a delicate, fun, and a little bit of sweetness to caress your mouth and wake up your taste buds. The fermentation lasts for five good days before being processed and released to the market. Each piece comes out ready-to-eat so there’s no need to cook!

Deep-fried Glutinous Rice Ball (Vietnamese Name: Bánh Rán)

Taking root in Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital city, deep-fried glutinous rice ball is an afterschool snack that takes the country by storm!

While the outside is crunchy and chewy as you indulge your sweet tooth in the glutinous rice flour, the inside is then revealed soft and fragrant with the stuffing made of red bean paste. The whole piece is soaked into sesame seeds before sliding into a large pan of boiling oil and therefore it’s always served smoky hot.

All you need to do is take a big bite while holding it hot in the palm of your hand. Especially if you’re wandering around the streets of Hanoi for sightseeing, don’t let Bánh Rán slip out of your hand because it can be a great supply of energy after a long-traveling day!

Vietnamese Chocolate

Authentic “made-in-Vietnam” chocolate seems like a new idea, and probably you haven’t heard of it before! But little do you know that Vietnam is an ideal supply of cocoa beans which are used for the making of the gooey, sweet and delightful chocolates.

Cocoa beans in Vietnam

One of the top brands dominating the Vietnamese chocolate scene is Marou, home of 100% pure Vietnamese chocolate products. The name Marou only comes with excellent quality and diversity in every single chocolate bar they produce.

Other than Marou, Alluvial Chocolatier is another iconic brand. Alluvial is committed to the “bean to bar” products which are categorized into milk and dark chocolate bars. Amongst all of the items, the best stand-outs that I highly recommend to any visitor is the milk chocolate.

Coconut Candy (Vietnamese Name: Kẹo Dừa)

Crunchy, soft with hints of tender sweetness, Vietnamese coconut candy is not only a spare-time snack but also the pride of the country. Originating in the kingdom of coconut, Ben Tre Province, coconut candy is a bite-size cube giving off an easy, loving, and playful sweetness.

Coconuts in Mekong Delta, Vietnam

The coconut candy scene nowadays is taken to a whole new level with a lot of flavors coming into play. Some of the best sellers in terms of flavors are chocolate, durian, and milk.

Even though the candy is widely available in almost any supermarket in Vietnam, the best way to get it is paying a visit to Ben Tre province in the Mekong Delta, making your way to a traditional handicraft village, and grabbing a box fresh off the shelf!

Young Green Rice Cake (Vietnamese Name: Bánh Cốm)

Rice cakes are fairly popular in the Southeast Asian countries, but ever heard of young green rice cakes? Originating from Northern Vietnam, these rice cakes are commonly made of sticky rice, coconuts, and green beans.

Locally known as Bánh Cốm, these are young rice flakes that are slightly sticky and chewy when cooked. Most confectionery shops along Hang Than Street, Hanoi, sell them as gift items.

And sure enough, it’s popular amongst tourists with its alluring pleasant aroma and sweet taste. If you’re looking for an authentic way to introduce the Vietnamese culinary culture, it’s a unique gift you should opt for!

Watermelon Seeds (Vietnamese Name: Hạt Dưa Đỏ)

Watermelon is a refreshing fruit that is well desired during summer. However, aside from the fleshy and juicy part of the fruit itself, the seeds can be eaten as well!

There’s a process involved to get those seeds edible. The biggest seeds are selected and hand-picked then left to dry under the heat. Once dried, it will be roasted on big pans before coming out as final products. Grab a couple and crack them open, it’s a mouthful experience!

The seeds are full of nutrients that are beneficial to the body’s growth. Some even suggest that eating watermelon seeds enhances memory and even safeguards from heart diseases!

Cashew Nuts (Vietnamese Name: Hạt Điều)

Despite originating from Northern China and Mongolia, cashew nuts are grown extensively in the Southern regions of Vietnam. Provinces such as Binh Phuoc and Dong Nai are the primary producers of cashew nuts which many people consider luxurious. Even though the trees can only be harvested once every couple of years, it’s widely available in the market.

Fresh and crunchy cashew nuts

The cashew nuts are also commonly roasted with salt that pair so well with Lunar New Year cuisines. There are quite a few varieties available, some are sold pre-peeled while some with skin attached. However, for the best cashews, we highly recommend getting a freshly roasted nuts and peel them yourself!

Peanut and Rice Paper Brittle (Vietnamese Name: Kẹo Cu Đơ)

What do you get by sandwiching molasses covered peanuts with malt sugar in between toasted rice papers? You’ll have in hand a crunchy and playful snack named Kẹo cu đơ, which tastes so glorious similar to how it cracks when snapped into half.

The stickiness of the peanut filling compliments the crispy texture of the rice paper outside. It’s no wonder this confection is quite popular, the province of Ha Tinh has been making candied peanuts for generations.

Potato Chips – Fried Fish Skins (Vietnamese Name: Khoai Tây Sấy – Da Cá Trứng Muối)

Salted egg flavor may be the newest craze when it comes to exotic tastes. Yet the team behind Ranchu’s potato chips and fish skins found a way to make their products taste just like it.

With months of preparation to get the full flavors right, it’s done extremely well with traditional methods and freshest ingredients. If you’re lucky enough to catch during the season, we suggest grabbing the seasonal breadfruit chips, it’s definitely a winner!

Candied Ginger (Vietnamese Name: Mứt Gừng)

Drinking tea may well be one of the Vietnamese well-loved activities. They eventually found ways to make drinking tea even more enjoyable. Unsurprisingly, one of the pairs that complement the tea drinking experience is none other than sugar-coated ginger.

Yes, ginger is usually used to make tea, but eating the ginger itself? That sounds weirdly curious. Yet with a follow-up sip from the tea and you’ll understand!

What is your favorite snack from the list above? No matter what it is, make sure to ask a local friend for the best place to grab these snacks home!

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