My Essential Cupboard Ingredients For Vietnamese Cooking

Oyster Sauce, Fish Sauce, Maggi Seasoning, Hoi Sin, Chilli Sauce, Cider Vinegar
[NB: I use the brands that appear in the photos].
Rice Paper – (bánh tráng)
Dry translucent sheets of paper made from rice and tapioca flour. Dip in water to make fresh summer rolls or fried spring rolls.

Vermicelli – (bún)

Thin rice noodles are mainly eaten at room temperature without broth in salads, summer rolls and with hot meat/ fish. Also used in soups such as chicken with bamboo or bún rieu.

Phở Noodles – (bánh phở)
Phở noodle soup is not phở unless the right noodles are used. When serving phở, dry noodles must be cooked first, and if using fresh noodles these should be blanched in hot water before adding to the soup. Can also be used in a stir-fry.

Premium Fish Sauce – (nước mắm)
Fish sauce is a staple in Vietnamese cuisine. A condiment made from fermented fish, water and salt, it is imperative to use a good quality fish sauce because this will improve the flavour of your cooking massively. Fish sauce is used as a seasoning in cooking as well as a dipping condiment (nước chấm) with cold noodle salads and barbeque meat dishes. I always use Three Crabs Fish Sauce – it tastes great!
Maggi Seasoning – (tương Maggi)
This is a dark, hydrolysed vegetable protein based sauce similar to soy sauce but made without soy beans. It is used like soy sauce in cooking and as seasoning at the dinner table. If unavailable substitute with soy sauce.
Chilli Sauce –(tương  ớt)
A paste made from sundried chillies, and a common condiment seen at most dinner tables. Used by the Vietnamese in a similar way to ketchup, and added to soups and dips.
Flavour/ Seasoning Granules (hạt nêm)
The granules come in many flavours such as pork, vegetable and mushrooms and are used to season. Similar to stock cubes but loose.
Rock Sugar (đường phèn)
Used to add sweetness to soups and desserts. It is produced with cane sugar and honey, traditionally through slow crystallization. Use a rolling pin to smash into smaller chunks. Provides a subtly different sweetness to regular sugar, which can nevertheless be used as a substitute.
Spices: Star Anise, Cinnamon, Black Cardamon, Dried Orange Peel, Coriander Seeds, Cloves
Used in broths, curries, stews and desserts.
Condensed Milk (sữa đặc)
Used in many desserts and also in Vietnamese (iced) coffee – e.g. cà phê sữa đá.
Vinegar: Cider, White Wine or Rice (giấm)
Often used instead of lime in dressings with nước mắm for sourness. Also used for pickling.
Peanuts (đậu phộng)
Used as a garnish on salads, meat dishes, sauces and desserts to add crunch and texture.

Coconut Milk/ Coconut Water
Both are great for desserts. Coconut milk for curries and stews but the water is also lovely for simmering savoury dishes because it is lighter than the milk and adds a subtle sweetness to dishes.

Pickled Shallots, Chilli Oil, Coconut Milk, Rock Sugar,
Brown Sugar Pices, Condensed Milk, Pork Bouillion
Rice Paper, Glass Noodles, Vermicelli, Banh Hoi, Pho Noodles