Vietnam is a multi-ethnic country with 54 distinct groups recognised by the Vietnamese government. This melting pot of influences has given the country its unique culture, despite the fact that Vietnam shares the cultural origins of other Southeast Asian countries.
Vietnamese food is considered one of the healthiest cuisines in the world, admired for its fresh ingredients and selective use of spices. The cuisine is based on a balance of five elements: spicy, sweet, salty, bitter and sour. Culinary traditions differ from region to region, but rice and noodles play an essential role in the daily diet of Vietnamese throughout the country. North Vietnam’s food features soy and fish sauce for a distinctive saltiness, Central Vietnamese food is known for its spice, and Southern Vietnamese cuisine is a combination of sweet and sour.
Vietnamese cuisine has been influenced over the centuries by several other cultures: The Chinese introduced stir frying and the use of chopsticks, while Thailand introduced chilli and coconut milk. The culinary legacy of the French is still evident in the popularity of baguettes and pate. Popular dishes in Ninh Thuan are Com Ga (steamed chicken and rice with ginger sauce), Goi Ca Mai (raw fish salad), So Mai Nuong (grilled mussels with spring onion and peanut sauce), Banh Xeo Hai San (rice pancakes with seafood and bean sprouts), Banh Canh Cha Ca (aromatic fish broth with fresh herbs, rice noodles and fish cakes) and Ca Be Cu Nhung Giam (poached fish in white vinegar).