Special Foods for Tet Celebrations in Vietnam

Tet is the most important celebration of Vietnamese culture. Through the foods meticulously prepared that brings families together in gastronomic enjoyment – the Tet is always mindful of the connection between humans and their natural and spiritual world. What’s eaten in Tet differs from region to region in Vietnam because of differences in weather (thus limiting the ingredients on hand) and taste preferences.

Top dishes for Tet in North Vietnam

Square Sticky Rice Cake (Banh Chung)

Square Sticky Rice Cake is created by Lang Lieu – the last prince of Sixth Hung Dynasty in the cooking contest to choose a new king. The cake is in square shape and symbolizes the earth. It represents the respect and gratitude of Vietnamese people to their ancestor.

Vietnamese Square Sticky Rice Cake Or Banh Chung 4

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Vietnamese Square Glutinous Rice Cake

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Main ingredients of Square Sticky Rice Cake are glutinous rice, mung bean, fatty pork and green onion, black pepper, salt, fish sauce for spicy. The cake is wrapped in green leaves called dong (phrynium placentarium). Then it is boiled carefully for 8 to 12 hours depends on the size.

Vietnamese Steamed Pork Roll (Gio Lua)

Known as a popular food in Vietnamese home meal, Vietnamese Steamed Pork Roll couldn’t be miss at the Tet banquet.

Vietnamese Pork Roll 1

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Vietnamese Pork Roll 4

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Traditional Vietnamese Steamed Pork Roll is made from ground pork and first-class fish sauce, black pepper. The mix of ingredients are boiled carefully. The roll is cut into pieces and served cold. This type of food is also used as fillings of Vietnamese Sandwich (Banh Mi) or important ingredient of many other popular Vietnamese foods like Salty Steamed Sticky Rice (Xoi), Stuffed Pancake, Noodle Soups…


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Steamed Sticky Rice (Xoi)

Xoi is cheap, fast and delicious food. Main ingredients are agricultural products like glutinous rice, beans, peanuts…

Gac Steamed Sticky Rice

Photo by Scooter Saigon Tour

The steamed glutinous rice must be sticky and smelling. The dish is served hot. Xoi made from ripe Gac (orange-colored fruit) – called Xoi Gac – is a favorite choice for Tet banquet because of its natural red color – the color brings luckiness, happiness and richness.

Boiled Chicken

Boiled hen is a must dish on Tet traditional tray of foods. The recipe is very easy: clean the chicken with head and leg, put it into a pot of water and boil until it’s well-done. This dish is a favorite in Tet days.

Vietnamese traditioneal food

Vietnamese Deep-fried Spring Roll (Nem)

Vietnamese Deep-fried Spring Roll is a delicious dish on Tet traditional tray of foods in North Vietnam. This crispy and smelling roll is eaten with sweet and sour fish sauce dip become more and more popular among Vietnamese people and foreigners.

Vietnamese Fried Roll Or Cha Gio 1

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It isn’t difficult to cook this food. Firstly you should prepare the main ingredients: pork, chicken or duck eggs, some veggies like carrot, black fungus…and cellophane noodle. All of them is ground and wrapped up in rice paper. Finally, the roll is fried until crisp in medium heat.

Pickled shallot/pearl onion

Vietnamese Pickled Pearl Onions

Let me share you a folk-song about Tet:

“Fatty meat, pickles, red parallel sentence.

Neu tree, firecracker, green square cake.”

Pickles play an important role in Vietnamese cuisine. The shallots must be old and solid. Then we cut the tails off and keep the roots of shallots. Then the shallots are soaked in water with ash and borax for 2 days 2 nights. It’s time to cut the roots and peel until the onions are about 5 centimeters in diameter. The shallots then are put into a jar with salt and thinly sliced sugar cane. After 2 weeks we can get them out and soak them in a liquid from water, sugar and vinegar. The pickled shallots will be ready after 3 days.

Jelly Pork

Jelly Pork

Jelly Pork is a specialty of North Vietnam. In cool air, Jelly Pork taste more delicious. This food is based on pork belly, sometimes chicken and pork skin. All is cooked well-done in a pot. After that the tight covered pot is put in the garden in cold weather. We will have an amazing jelly in the next morning. There’s nothing better than eating a piece of Jelly Pork with a pickled small onion.

Stewed Beef with Cinnamon

Stewed Beef with Cinnamon

This food is prepare two days before first day of lunar new year to be consecrated to the ancestor and heaven. Beef shank is used to cook the stew. Beef shank is soaked with garlic juice, salt, fish sauce and being rolled with thinly sliced pork belly. The roll is fried on a pan before being stewed in a pot with sugar, soy sauce and toasted cinnamon. The roll will be sliced thinly and served with Steamed Sticky Rice or Square Sticky Rice Cake. It’s worth it to have a taste.

Top dishes for Tet in Central Vietnam

Stewed Dried Bamboo Shoot With Caramel

Stewed Dried Bamboo Shoot With Caramel

Before lunar New Year’s Eve, dried bamboo shoot is soaked in water for 2 days. Then it is carefully boiled many times and wash as much as possible so that it becomes white and tender. Before being soaked with black pepper, garlic, sugar, sault, sodium glutamate, five-spice powder and caramel. Pork, pork legs and pork nail are cut into medium sized pieces and half-fried. Put pork and bamboo into a big pot and cook on medium heat. The cook can add sodium glutamate and sault to meet the taste. An important not is that shouldn’t be used fish sauce because it makes the food stale soon. Stewed Dried Bamboo Shoot With Caramel is served with tender Phu Yen paper rice, fresh vegetables. Just roll bamboo shoot, pork, vegies in paper rice and eat with the sauce…



Nowadays Tré is a rural dish but in the past it’s a royal food. Base of Tré is pork head which is boiled, sliced thinly and fry until it turns yellow. The food is crunchy and funny to eat. The smell of the food comes from garlic, galingale, guava leaves and roast rice powder.

Top dishes for Tet in South Vietnam

Braised Pork and Eggs in Caramel Sauce

Braised Pork And Eggs In Caramel

Photo by Scooter Saigon Tour

Braised Pork and Eggs in Caramel Sauce. Some prefer cooking this food with pork belly while others use fatty pork or pork legs.Pork is cut into cubes and soak in garlic, fish sauce, sault, sugar and caramel. The egg are use in this food because it symbolizes the goodness and happiness. Eggs are hard-boiled and peeled. The pork and peeled hard-boiled eggs are cook in a pot for a few hours. The dish is usually served with pickles.

Stewed Bitter Melon with Ground Pork

Soup With Bitter Melon

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People in South Vietnam eat Stewed Bitter Melon with Ground Pork in Tet holiday because not only it’s flavourful and healthy but also it has a special meaning. The name of bitter melon in Vietnamese is “kho qua”, which means difficulty passed. Behind the bitter taste is the savory sweetness. Vietnamese people eat bitter melon to say goodbye to the old and welcome the new.

Pickle scallion heads

Besides pickle bean sprouts and pickle small onion, pickle scallion heads shouldn’t be miss in any South Vietnam’s family. The scallion heads are soaked in lye from rainwater and wood ash. Then the roots and leaves are cut. The scallion heads are dried in the sun for 4 hours and soaked in sugar before being put into a glass jar. The food is ready after 10 days.

Vietnamese foods are delicious and attract most people have tasted them. Would you like to enjoy the best Vietnamese dishes when traveling to Ho Chi Minh City. A food tour is a great choice to immerse into the city life, enjoy all the exotic foods with your tour guides as friends.

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