What to Eat at Tet Festival in North Vietnam?

What to Eat at Tet Festival in North Vietnam?

Photo by Scooter Saigon Tour

Vietnam cuisine offers enormous exotic foods including traditional foods, royal foods, foods for home meals and street foods. Food options are everywhere in all regions of the country. Tet festival is when Vietnamese people prepare lots of traditional foods to offer their ancestors and serve family members. If you visit North Vietnam around the Tet festival, it’s a big chance to try amazing Tet foods. What to Eat at Tet Festival in North Vietnam? Dried fruit candies, square glutinous rice cake, boiled chicken, Vietnamese pork roll, soup with dried bamboo shoot and jellied pork are delicious foods shouldn’t be missed at Tet. They are not only foods but also the soul of the country.

1. Mut Tet

Candied Coconut Vietnamese Mut Tet 2

Photo by Scooter Saigon Tour

Vietnamese people love to eat sweets with some green tea while gathering together, especially at Tet festival. Mut Tet couldn’t be missed at Tet in any Vietnamese house.

Mut is not only a favorite food of people at all ages in Vietnam but also contains good meaning – eating sweet, talking sweetly to everybody and hoping for sweet things in the new year. In addition, Mut Tet is one of the best gifts for Tet to family members and friends. Mut Tet is usually put in a tray and always arranged on the altar to offer to the family’s ancestors. There’s another tray of Mut Tet put on the table in the living room, it will be served to visitors.
There is a wide range of Mut Tet but it could be divided into 5 groups: seeds (dried watermelon seed, dried pumpkin seed, candied nuts (candy with peanuts, candy with sesame), candied fruits (wet dried soursop, preserved tamarind with sugar, hard sugar-preserved coconut), candied vegetable (sugar-preserved ginger, sugar-preserved carrot) and custard candies (custard candy with banana and ginger). Just coming to a market in Vietnam at Tet, you will see hundreds of colorful Mut Tet for your choice. 5 top traditional kinds of Mut Tet are dried watermelon seeds, hard sugar-preserved coconut meat, sugar-preserved lotus seeds, sugar-preserved ginger and candy with peanuts.

Read more about Mut Tet

2. Square Glutinous Rice Cake


Vietnamese Square Sticky Rice Cake Or Banh Chung 2

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Vietnamese Square Sticky Rice Cake (Banh Chung) is the most delicious traditional Vietnamese food and irreplaceable cake at the Tet festival. Banh Chung plays an important part in Vietnamese culture — on the family table and the ancestor worship altar. It has been said that this cake appeared during Hong Bang Dynasty and first cooked by Lang Lieu prince. The cake showed the love of Lang Lieu to his father – Hung King. Banh Chung is made from glutinous rice, pork belly and mung bean. Dong leaves are used to wrap the square-shaped cake, the leaves which green color still remains after being boiled in about 12 hours on a wood-burning stove.

Read more about Vietnamese Square Sticky Rice Cake


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3. Boiled Chicken

Vietnamese traditional food - boiled chicken

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Boiled Chicken couldn’t be missed on Vietnamese on Tet feast offered to ancestors on Lunar New Year’s Eve and the first day of Tet. Vietnamese people usually choose good mature garden chicken. It’s not easy to cook a perfect Boiled Chicken which must look nice and be delicious. The chicken skin must be yellow and shinning after being boiled. Boiled Chicken is offered whole and cut into pieces when it’s served to family members with a mix of chili, salt, and lemon juice.

4. Vietnamese Pork Roll and Head Cheese

Vietnamese Pork Roll 5

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Gio Thu Or Vietnamese Head Cheese

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Vietnamese Pork Roll and Head Cheese are the most favorite foods in Vietnam offered to ancestors at the Tet festival. These foods symbolize happiness and richness. Both Vietnamese Pork Roll and Head Cheese has a cylinder shape and are cut into pieces to serve cold with pickle and fish sauce. Vietnamese Pork Roll is eaten with Steamed Rice, Rice Noodle, Wet Cake and Banh Mi (Vietnamese Bread). To make Pork Roll, the cook must ground pork many times with ice until the pork turns pink white and become chewy. The ground pork is wrapped into a cylindrical roll and steamed for about 45 minutes. The crunchy head Cheese is made by placing and pressing stir-fried shredded wood ear, pig ear, cheek, nose, tongue, and pork belly in a cylindrical mold. Pig ear creates a kind of glue to make all ingredients stick to each other.

5. Soup with Dried Bamboo Shoot

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Soup with Dried Bamboo Shoot has been a traditional Vietnamese food for thousands of years. Symbolizing for warmness and being comfortable to eat, this kind of soup is the favorite of Northern people at the Tet festival. The soup is cooked from dried bamboo shoots, pork leg, wood ear and green onion. Soup with Dried Bamboo Shoot is served hot with cellophane noodles and fish sauce.

Ao Dai Ho Chi Minh Food Tour - Saigon Food Tour by motorbike

6. Soup with Dried Pig Skin

soup with dried pig skin What to Eat at Tet Festival in North Vietnam

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Soup with Dried Pig Skin is a familiar dish in Hanoi and other regions in North Vietnam. The main ingredient of Soup with Dried Pig Skin is crispy Bong Bi – Dried Pig Skin pig which makes this soup unique and delicious.  Other ingredients such as pork, ground pork, pig bone, dried young shrimp, carrot, cauliflower/broccoli (optional), ginger, duck egg… make the soup flavorful and very healthy. Dried Pig Skin must be soaked in water for about 3 hours, then alum, wine and ginger are used to remove its smell.

7. Jellied Pork

Jelly Pork What to Eat at Tet Festival in North Vietnam

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Vietnamese Jellied Pork is made from pig leg, pig ear, wood ear, shiitake, black pepper… After all ingredients are stewed in water barely covering them, the stew is placed in any container. At Tet festival, it’s cold enough to jellify the stew, but it’s better to put it in the freezer. Vietnamese Jellied Pork is served cold with fish sauce and pickle. Jellied Pork is a perfect mix of tender jelly, pork, fat and crunchy wood ear, pig ear. It’s a perfect refreshing dish for Tet days when we eat many kinds of foods.

8. Steamed Sticky Rice

Gac Steamed Sticky Rice

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Steamed Sticky Rice cooked from sticky rice (glutinous rice) has been the most popular food in Vietnam for thousands of years because it’s cheap, delicious and healthy. Steamed Sticky Rice with Gac which has a red color is a Tet food bringing good luck to Vietnamese houses. It’s molded into beautiful and meaningful shape: lotus, carp, daisy, heart… and offered to ancestors. This kind of steamed sticky rice is better to eat with boiled chicken and pickles.

Read more about Steamed Sticky Rice:

Steamed Sticky Rice Saigon – an amazing street food

Best Steamed Sticky Rice in Saigon

Steamed sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves (Xoi La Chuoi)

9. Fried Spring Roll

Vietnamese Fried Roll Or Cha Gio 1

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The authentic Vietnamese Fried Spring Roll is famous around the world for its special recipe and great taste. The roll is small but contains lots of ingredients so that the cook must be skillful, patient and experienced. All ingredients (pork, shrimp, egg, wood ear, shiitake, carrot…) are cut into small pieces and wrapped in rice paper before being deep-fried until the roll become crispy and brown-yellow. This food is better to eat hot with fish sauce dip and carrot pickle.

10. Pickles

Vietnamese Pickled Pearl Onions

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At the Tet festival, Vietnamese people eat a lot of meat, fat, oil and sweet foods. Pickles are perfect foods to make Fried Spring Roll, Jellied Pork, Pork Roll, Head Cheese, Square Sticky Rice Cake and Boiled Chicken less greasy and tastier. There is a wide range of vegetables used to make pickles, most popular pickles are pickled carrot, daikon, greens, leek, shallot…

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