Philosophical influences on Vietnamese cuisine

Yin Yang balance

The principle of yin and yang is applied in selecting the ingredients of a dish and the dishes of a meal, in matching dishes with seasonal or climatic conditions, with the prevalent environment and with the current physical well-being of the diners.

Some examples are:[citation needed]

  • Duck meat is considered as “cool” so is served in summer, which is hot, and with ginger fish sauce which is “warm”, while chicken which is “warm” and pork which is “hot” are used in cold winters.
  • Seafood ranging from “cool” to “cold” are suitable to use with ginger (“warm”).
  • Spicy, which is extremely yang, must be harmonized by sour, which is extremely yin.
  • Balut (“cold”) must be combined with Vietnamese mint (“hot”).
  • Cold and flu patients must drink ginger water (“hot”).

Five element correspondence

Vietnamese cuisine is influenced by the Asian principle of five elements and Mahābhūta.

Many Vietnamese dishes include five spices (Vietnamese: ngũ vị): spicy (metal), sour (wood), bitter (fire), salty (water) and sweet (Earth), corresponding to: five organs (Vietnamese: ngũ tạng): gall bladder, small intestine, large intestine, stomach and urinary bladder.[citation needed]

Vietnamese dishes also include five types of nutrients (Vietnamese: ngũ chất): powder, water or liquid, mineral elements, protein and fat.

Vietnamese cooks try to have five colours (Vietnamese: ngũ sắc): white (metal), green (wood), yellow (Earth), red (fire) and black (water) in their dishes.

Dishes in Vietnam appeal to gastronomes via five senses (Vietnamese: năm giác quan): food arrangement attracts eyes, sounds come from crisp ingredients, five spices detected on the tongue, aromatic ingredients coming mainly from herbs stimulate the nose and some meals, especially finger food, can be perceived by touching.