Indonesian Vs Vietnamese Food: 5 Main Differences Between The Two Cuisines

You might have heard about the wonderful cuisines from Indonesia and Vietnam, but which one is better? To find the answer, this article will help you understand more about Indonesian food and Vietnamese food by comparing them and figure out their differences as well as similarities.

Let’s start!

What is special about Indonesian food?

Indonesian cuisine is a delicious blend of flavors, spices, and cooking techniques.

It has been influenced by many other cultures, such as their neighboring cuisines in the Asia continent like Chinese or Indian, and during the colonial periods when Indonesia was the colony of the Dutch and Portuguese so its cuisine was also partially impacted by these European cultures.

With over 17 thousand islands in Indonesia’s territory, Indonesian cuisine also varies from region to region.

There are over 3000 varieties of dishes to choose from with multiple options for every type of diet for vegetarians or meat-lovers.

Indonesians rarely consume pork and beef, but chicken, lamb, and seafood instead.

The reason is pigs and cows are considered sacred animals among Muslim and Hindu communities, so it is forbidden to consume pork and beef.

Their food is also rich in flavor due to the use of various kinds of spices.

What is special about Vietnamese food?

Vietnamese cuisine is a delicious mix of fresh ingredients and flavors.

It’s special because it has such a diverse range of dishes, from soupy dishes like Pho to the most popular street food called Banh Mi.

Vietnamese food also varies between regions.

For example, the North of Vietnam prefers savory and salty dishes while the Middle and South cuisines feature sweeter and spicier food.

Several things in common in Vietnamese cuisine are their use of fresh herbs and spices like basil, peppermint, coriander, perilla, or Vietnamese balm.

These ingredients are usually eaten raw, which provides Vietnamese food a very unique taste.

Rice and rice products like noodles and rice cakes are staples in Vietnamese cuisine.

They serve steamed rice in nearly every meal, while noodles are usually consumed as breakfast.

Some of the most popular cooking methods in this country are boiling, stir-frying, frying, and braising.

What are the differences between Indonesian food and Vietnamese food?

To sum up some typical features of each cuisine and make it easier for you to compare Indonesian food and Vietnamese food, this section will point out the differences between these two cuisines:

Indonesian food is spicier than Vietnamese food

Indonesian food is spicier than Vietnamese.

When you think of the word spicy, what comes to mind? Perhaps it’s hot peppers or a curry dish with an Indian flair.

As we all know, cuisine preferences are relative and subjective but Indonesians have some pretty high standards when it comes to measuring spice levels on their dishes because they love them so much.

Regarding Vietnamese food, the spiciness of the dish will typically depend on personal preference.

In general, their food is not as spicy as their Indonesian counterpart.

Vietnamese eat a lot of noodles and bread besides rice, while Indonesians mainly eat rice

The Vietnamese diet is primarily composed of noodles, bread, and rice served with vegetables and meat.

Their traditional and popular dish is pho, in which noodles are the main character.

Meanwhile, Indonesians tend to eat rice only, which can be steamed or fried.

Indonesians use more coconut milk in their cooking, while Vietnamese sometimes use coconut water

Indonesia is an island country, therefore, they have great access to tropical fruits, including coconuts.

Coconut milk is a staple in their cooking because it adds a subtly sweet and refreshing flavor.

On the other hand, Vietnamese use coconut water instead, and they only add this ingredient to provide a more fragrant flavor that some people enjoy.

They also tend to have coconut water as a beverage for summer.

Pork and beef are staples in Vietnamese cuisine but not in Indonesian cuisine

Pork and beef are usually eaten as a regular meal in Vietnam, while the consumption of these two kinds of meat has been frowned upon by Muslims and Hindus in Indonesia for religious reasons.

In Indonesia, they eat lamb, veal, and chicken instead.

Vietnamese cuisine mainly uses fresh herbs and spices, while Indonesians use dried or ground spices

The difference between Vietnamese food and Indonesian food is that the latter of these two cultures typically relies on using dry or powdered spices for their meals, such as garlic powder, onion powder, cumin seeds, curry powder, or chili powder.

On the other hand, Vietnamese people prefer using fresh and raw herbs and leaves to not only enhance the flavor of their dishes but also act as ornaments. 

What are the similarities between Indonesian food and Vietnamese food?

Despite many key differences between Indonesian food and Vietnamese food, these two cuisines also have some features in common, as listed below:

Indonesian cuisine and Vietnamese cuisine focus on using fresh ingredients

One thing in common between Vietnamese cuisine and Indonesian cuisine is that both focus on using fresh ingredients, but they differ in many other ways.

For example, Vietnamese food is often heavy with seafood or meat while the vast majority of Indonesia’s dishes are more vegetarian-friendly.

No matter what their popular dishes are, all the ingredients in Indonesia and Vietnam can easily be found in their local markets.

Rice and fish sauce are staples in both cuisines

Another similarity between Vietnamese food and Indonesian food is that rice and fish sauce are commonly used in both cuisines.

Fish sauce is used as a seasoning condiment, to marinate ingredients before cooking, or to serve as a dipping sauce.

Rice can be steamed or stir-fried in Vietnam and Indonesia.

Which one is better?

It’s hard to say which cuisine is better between Indonesian food and Vietnamese food because they are both delicious and versatile.

Hopefully, this article has helped you understand more about these Asian dishes.

Each cuisine has its own unique features and some people might prefer Indonesian over Vietnamese food, while others love Vietnamese dishes more than their Indonesian counterparts, all depending on their taste buds’ preference.

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