In Vietnam, people love eating different kinds of vegetables. In addition to the heal benefits, vegetables can balance the powerful flavors in most of Vietnamese dishes. Almost every Vietnamese dish has at least one type of vegetables, either as the main ingredients or a side dish. In this guide, we will give you a rough guide to some popular Vietnamese vegetables (besides carrots, radishes, potatoes, and tomatoes) you might come across while exploring the local cuisines.
For a more convenient shopping experience, aside from going to the market or supermarket, you can also buy Vietnamese vegetables online and have them shipped right to your door!
Rau Muong (Morning Glory)
Shaved morning glory salad with baby shrimps
Rau Muong thrives in Vietnam’s climate, and it either grows on the waters or on the ground. Stir-fried garlic Rau Muong or poached Rau Muong are two favorite dishes of many families’ meals. You can also find this at most restaurants in Vietnam. Besides, you can have a bowl of Bun Bo Hue with the shaved Rau Muong.
Rau Muong stir-fried with noodles and seafood
Rau Muong is also one of the quintessential Vietnamese vegetables in the infamous sweet and sour soup (Canh chua)
Rau Lang (Sweet Potato Greens)
In the summer, many people favor this Vietnamese vegetable to reduce the internal heat within the body. Besides, other benefits of Rau Lang are traditional cures for obesity, backache, and flu. The vegetable is often poached or cooked in soups.
Rau Mong Toi (Malabar Spinach)
The color of the stem is green or purple, and the shape of the leaf is a heart, so people can easily distinguish Rau Mong Toi from other Vietnamese vegetables. Rau Mong Toi can pair with many dishes, including Mong Toi Soup or hotpots. It also has some health benefits, like reducing the symptoms of osteoarthritis and decreasing cholesterol for diabetes. It has a soft texture and natural sweetness, making it an excellent green for kids.
Mong Toi goes amazing with beef hotpot
Rau Den (Beet Greens)
Rau Den has a consistency similar to malabar spinach, but it gives a beautiful red hue just like beet roots. The vegetable contains many minerals and vitamins, such as zinc, calcium, and iron. It is a herbaceous plant, has complex roots, and can grow well in drought. Its leaves are small and reddish dark green and are often used for cooking in soup with chopped ground pork.
Cai Xanh (Mustard Greens)
The size of Cai Xanh’s leaves is as large as the size of an adult hand, making it a perfect wrap for grilled beef or Banh Xeo. However, the aroma can be strong and a bit spicy, so it might take a few tries until you can acquire its flavor.
Wrapping Banh Xeo or Banh Khot (Vietnamese pancakes) with mustard greens
Cai Thia (Bok Choy)
In Vietnam, Cai Thia is also known as Cai Trang. The elliptic leaf of Cai Thia has a light green color and a slight white near the root. There are a lot of vitamins and nutrients, such as carotene and vitamins A, E, and C, that can give you a healthy diet. It often goes with other nutritious ingredients, especially in vegetarian stir-fried dishes, soups, or hotpots.
Bok Choy is more popular in Chinese dishes in Vietnam
Cai Xoan (Kale)
Cai Xoan contains vitamin C and other beneficial minerals for the body, such as vitamins K and A. Therefore, Cai Xoan is known as one of the healthy vegetables in Vietnam. People often make salads, smoothies, or eat kale as a side dish for greasy food.
Cai Thao (Napa Cabbage)
The outside leaves of Cai Thao are light green, the inside of the leaves has a bit of dark green color, and the stem of the cabbage is white. You might have heard about this cabbage in making Kimchi, the famous Korean fermented salad. Vietnamese use this vegetable to make soups with chicken meat, and pork bones. Besides, people use Cai Thao to cure sore throats, lower the body’s heat, and add some beneficial nutrients such as vitamins A, B, C, and E.
Beansprout is very popular in Eastern Asian countries and is popularly paired with various noodle soups. Due to the variety of vitamins and protein, bean sprout is believed to have many benefits, including reducing anxiety strengthening the immune system.
Bean Sprouts is a popular side dish for Southern-style Pho
Xa Lach (Lettuce)
It is very easy for anyone to buy Xa Lach at local markets and supermarkets in Vietnam. Most of Xa Lach in Vietnam come from the central highland areas like Da Lat. This edible leaf is favored to roll with Vietnamese pancakes such as Banh Xeo and Banh Khot and dipped in the savory fish sauce.
Xa Lach is one the most favorite Vietnamese vegetables as it goes well with almost any dish and soup
This is also a widely common type of Vietnamese vegetable for wrap-and-roll dishes
Rau Dang (Prostrate Knotweed)
In Vietnam, Rau Dang is mostly grown wildly alongside the riverbanks and the coasts in the Mekong Delta. “Dang“ means bitter in Vietnamese, so the taste of this vegetable is not everyone’s favorite. Vietnamese often use Rau Dang to cook Lau Mam (the fermented fish hotpot with boiled fish, shrimp, squid, and roasted pork), or eat raw with porridge and steamed pork. In traditional remedies, Rau Dang is an effective medicine for headaches, constipation, and eyesores.
Rau Nhut (Water Mimosa)
The special trait of Rau Nhut is that its leaves are very small, and the locals often use both stems and leaves with other ingredients to make soup or stir-fried dishes like with Rau Muong. Rau Nhut contains a higher level of protein than other vegetables, like lettuce. It is a unique traditional cure for people who suffer from insomnia.
Rau Tan O (Crown Daisy)
Some delicious foods made with this vegetable are fish meatball soup, oyster sauce with steamed Rau Tan O, stir-fried Rau Tan O. A sweet and slightly bitter taste of the vegetable is believed to be loaded with health benefits, such as reducing the risks of cancer, inflammation, and improving the digestive system.
Rau Day (Jute Vegetable)
Vietnamese often use Rau Day with different ingredients such as fish, crab, and shrimp to cook diverse kinds of soups. Many people eat this vegetable because they believe Rau Day has many minerals and nutrients that help to prevent sickness and constipation.
Rau Ngot (Katuk)
The size of Rau Ngot is smaller than other vegetables in this guide. It grows wildly in many countries and local farmers pick them to use as the main ingredient to cook meatball soup and process traditional medicines. However, Rau Ngot is among the types of Vietnamese vegetables unsuitable for those with low blood pressure due to their powerful body-cooling effect.
Bap Chuoi (Banana Flower)
The flower of the banana tree is an edible plant. Bap Chuoi is often shaved to eat raw with Bun Bo Hue or mixed with peanut, shrimp, and pork to make the delicious “Goi” salad, the refreshing Vietnamese starter. Traditional medicine practitioners use Bap Chuoi to process many kinds of medicine used for digestive disorders and the antioxidation process.
Rau Cang Cua (Peperomia Pellucida)
Rau Cang Cua with its sour and crusty taste is perfect to mix with, boiled shrimp, some other vegetables, and vinegar to make a healthy salad.
Mang (Bamboo Shoot)
Mang is bamboo shoots in English, and it can either be eaten when still fresh or after it has been dried. It is commonly the main ingredient to make soup with freshwater fish and tomato or stewed pork. The light sour taste of this edible plant makes the flavor of the soup a little sour but also slightly sweet. Mang has many minerals and good nutrients, such as protein, vitamins, phosphor, and calcium.
Dried bamboo shoots can be used in a famous noodle soup called Bun Mang Vit (vermicelli soup with dried bamboo shoots and duck meat)
La Giang (Aganonerion Polymorphum)
This genus of La Giang is a vine plant and grows mostly in riverbanks across Indochina. The La Giang chicken soup is a specialty food in Southern Vietnam, and the La Giang beef hotpot in Cu Chi District is also a favored dish by many locals. The taste of La Giang adds a light sour flavor to the soup, which is quite different from the sweet and sour taste of tamarinds.
Ngo Sen and Cu Sen (Lotus Rootlet and Lotus Root)
Cu Sen (lotus root) has a bit of starchy texture to it, while Ngo Sen (lotus root string) is crunchy and plain in flavor. Cu Sen is mostly used as a sweetening ingredient in soup or for a myriad of Vietnamese sweet soup desserts, or stir-fried with beef. On the other hand, Ngo Sen is mostly mixed to serve with carrot, boiled shrimp, pork, and fish sauce in the most common salad in Vietnam (Goi Ngo Sen).
Stir-fried lotus roots
These parts of the lotus can be a traditional medicine used to reduce body heat. It contains many minerals and nutrients, such as vitamins, glucose, asparagine, and arginine. Lotus roots appear a lot in Vietnamese vegetarian dishes. Find out more about Vegetarian Restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City here.
Lotus roots chips
Rong Bien (Seaweed)
Rong Bien has been a refreshing and tasty Sam Bo Luong sweet soup ingredient. And in recent years, because of its nutritious benefits, Rong Bien has become more prevalent in Vietnamese cuisine, especially in functional foods that are good for health. It is the main ingredient in some popular dishes like tofu soup, salad, and rice rolls.
Can Tay (Celery)
Can Tay is an aromatic vegetable that goes really well with beef. Moreover, most foods with Can Tay are nutritious and a remedy for common diseases like flu, insomnia, and high blood pressure.
Kho Qua (Bitter Melon)
Kho Qua is a common Vietnamese vegetable in daily family meals. Despite the bitterness, it has a lot of health benefits good for people with a high level of cholesterol or skin irritation. In cooking, people can use Kho Qua to make different foods such as stir-fried pork or egg with Kho Qua, Kho Qua salad with pork/chicken floss, and minced pork stuffed in Kho Qua stew – a famous soup during the Vietnamese Tet Holiday.
Su Hao (Kohlrabi)
Su Hao is a kind of root vegetable usually seen in soup or stir-fried dishes. It has a low amount of fats and cholesterol. Therefore, its health benefits are necessary for people having problems with their heart and circulatory system.
Dua Leo (Cucumber)
Cucumber as a side dish in Bun Dau Mam Tom (vermicelli with deep-fried tofu and fermented shrimp paste)
Cooks often cut cucumbers into many slices to decorate dishes like Broken rice and Bun Dau Mam Tom. Dua Leo is also great for facial skin care because it contains a lot of vitamin C, improving the function of the immune system, and eyes and reducing the body’s internal heat.
Su Su (Chayote)
Su Su is regularly cooked with other foods like pork, fish, and mushrooms to make family meals in Vietnam. The stewed Su Su with pork and other vegetables like carrots, potatoes, radishes, and beetroot is a delicious and nutritious soup for kids.
Summary of Common Vietnamese Vegetables
Most of the Vietnamese vegetables are used in cooking soup, side dishes, vegetarian dishes, and making traditional medicine. The taste of each green enhances and creates a unique flavor for Vietnamese dishes. Besides, a variety of health benefits in these greens is also the reason why many Vietnamese people love to add them to their daily diets.