Vietnam’s impression in Australian cuisine

Tuesday, 2018-02-20 10:32:09
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A Vietnamese restaurant in Australia
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NDO – On the occasion of his attendance at APEC Economic Leaders’ Week in Da Nang city in 2017, the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull sat on a roadside to enjoy a ‘banh mi kep thit’ (Vietnamese bread with fried pork) and gave his compliments to such delicious food, which provided a unique insight to the richness of Vietnamese cuisine.

Vietnamese food is not only highly appreciated but has also become a familiar dish for many Australian people, even those who have never visited Vietnam.

Australia is a sports and outdoors loving nation, so they pay great attention to the nutritional content and quality of their meals. Nearly 90% of Australia’s population live in urban areas (higher than most Western countries); so their food tastes are widely varied. Modern Australians tend to require an attractive meal full of green vegetables, meat, and complex carbohydrates, but low in fat, flour, and dairy products.

There is a longstanding Chinese community in Australia, so their restaurants appear almost everywhere. However, their food is high in fat and starch but low on fresh green vegetables. Meanwhile, Italian cuisine, which is extremely popular in the US and Western countries, is often a mixture of wheat flour products and cheese, with protein provided by processed meats such as sausages, smoked meat, and ham. They contain a large amount of calories, causing weight gain, particularly for people who are less inclined to exercise. Therefore, Vietnamese cuisine has emerged as a popular food with many advantages: a lot of vegetables, especially raw vegetables, less fried food, and almost no dairy.

In major cities around Australia, the restaurants and bakeries of Vietnamese people are always crowded at lunch time. Overseas Vietnamese who were born and grew up in Australia still maintain typical eating and drinking habits of Vietnamese people. With their business knowledge, they formed a chain of restaurants imbued with Vietnamese features that meet the tastes and demands of Australians. ‘Banh mi kep’ (Vietnamese sandwich) is a typical example. Bread was introduced to Vietnam by the French during their colonial period. However, Vietnamese people made creative changes and mixed rice flour with wheat flour to make baguettes softer inside and crispy outside, which are well suited to Westerners’ taste. In addition to pâté (made Vietnamese style) – a western ingredient, meat and vegetables are fillings of choice for Vietnamese people. The harmonious combination of Eastern and Western features, the nutritional balance and cheap price have made Vietnamese sandwiches become an excellent choice for many Australian people. The restaurants use many different kinds of cooked meat: roasted, crispy roasted, and grilled pork, fried beef, and grilled chicken.

Australia gives prominence to the cultural diversity of society and the State always protects the cultural values and heritage of each immigrant community in the country. Therefore, they always respect all foods and their original names.

‘Pho’ (Vietnamese noodles in broth) is also a food popular around the world. In Australia, people can eat ‘pho’ for breakfast, lunch, and dinner or even on the bus from plastic tubs. People living in Australia come from many countries around the world, so their culinary demands are diverse. Vietnamese people’s restaurants can fulfill the appetites of many different guests. For example, Hindus, who are not allowed for beef, can eat chicken; while Muslims can choose halal beef dishes. In addition, vegetarians can enjoy bowls of ‘pho’ with tofu and vegetable broth.

A bowl of 'bun bo Hue'

In addition to ‘pho’, ‘bun bo Hue’ (Vietnamese spicy beef noodle soup) has also been gaining a following in Australia. Asian people here love this food very much because of the pepperiness of citronella and chili combined with the rich flavour of shrimp paste. Each bowl of ‘pho’ or ‘bun bo Hue’ is accompanied with a plate of ‘hung que’ (basil) and beansprouts.

In the daily diets of Australian families, many kinds of Vietnamese fruits and foodstuffs have become popular ingredients, such as shrimp, basa fish, cashew nuts, pepper, lychee, and dragon fruit. Interestingly, ‘rau dam’ – a kind of raw vegetables in Vietnam, is also popular in Australia with a special name of ‘Vietnamese mint’. Packets of fish sauce mixed with garlic and chili or boxes of convenience food, such as roasted meats and the preserved fish of Vietnam are available in supermarkets.

Luke Nguyen, a Vietnamese chef who has become famous in Australia for his appearances on tourism and cooking television programmes, introduced the ‘banh mi kep’ of Da Nang to PM Malcolm Turnbull. It can be said that Modern Australian cuisine is something of a hotpot combination of many culinary schools and Vietnamese cuisine is an integral element.

Many Australian people have visited Vietnam to enjoy the delicious traditional food in its original country. If the tourism environment, infrastructure, and human resources are continually improved towards international standards, the image of the land and people of Vietnam will certainly be further promoted, and not only in the field of gastronomy.