Traditional Vietnamese Family Meal

  • 10:43 - 2013/10/24

1. The meaning of family meals in Vietnamese life

Traditional values of Vietnamese lifestyle were deeply affected by Confucian ethics, especially in the Best of the north Vietnam. During thousand years under the invasion and domination by Chinese, Vietnamese culture was also permeated by their Confucian philosophical beliefs. It was believed that "in order to achieve human perfection, one must follow the established codes of behavior which include reverence for ancestors and respect for elders...The importance is not upon the individual"s accomplishments but upon his duty to family and society"

Vietnamese meal

Most Vietnamese placed more emphasis on their roles, privileges and obligations within this group than on their own individual desires. The Vietnamese household traditionally followed the extended multi-generational pattern. The parents, their sons and their wives, their children, and unmarried siblings usually constituted a Vietnamese household. In this extended family, the most important expectation was the respect for the elders. Hence, the family decisions were made by the parents and grandparents.


family meal

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 At that time, sharing the delicious Traditional Vietnamese Food for the elderly and children is an action of showing affection among family members. In respond, the elderly teach their children the ethnic standards and proper behaviors to others. The traditional values, customs, and etiquettes of the ancestors are conveyed to the children and then, as the eternal rule, they teach their children these traditional values. Moreover, the Vietnamese traditional family meal also concerns profound and faithful love among husband and wife. No matter how poor their meal is, they enjoy it in happy atmosphere. The meal is simple, but it implies a profound love.

stir vegetable

2. A typical family meal

Meals in Vietnam – lunch or dinner – must include rice. Traditionally, Vietnamese meals are prepared by wives or mothers and the entire family is expected to partake. However, due to the demands of careers on Vietnamese women, the number of family-made meals has been decreasing. Households now may have a one meal a day at home, and it may not include the entire family.

Vietnamese prefer fresh foods, and will rarely choose ready-made or frozen food. Since Vietnam is an agricultural country, there are many kinds of vegetables and fruits available. Vietnam also has a long coastal line, which means that there are many kinds of sea food available.

A typical meal for the average Vietnamese family would include:

Large bowl/pot/cooker of steamed long-grain white rice

Individual bowls of rice

Fish/seafood, meat, tofu (grilled, boiled, steamed, stewed or stir-fried with vegetables)

A stir-dry dish

stir-dry dish

Raw, pickled, steamed, or fresh vegetables

Canh (a clear broth with vegetables and often meat or seafood) or other soup


Prepared fish sauce for dipping, to which garlic, pepper, chili, ginger, or lime juice are sometimes added according to taste


fish sauce

Dipping sauces and condiments depending on the main dishes, such as pure fish sauce, ginger fish sauce, tamarind fish sauce, soy sauce, muối tiêu chanh (salt and pepper with lime juice) or muối ớt (chili and salt)

pickled papaya

Small dish of relishes, such as salted eggplant, pickled white cabbage, pickled papaya, pickled garlic or pickled bean sprouts

Fresh fruits or desserts, such as che


All dishes except individual bowls of rice are communal and are to be shared in the middle of the table. It is also customary for the younger to ask/wait for the elders to eat first and the women sit right next to the rice pot to serve rice for other people. They also pick up food for each other as an action of care.

Traditional Vietnamese Food is significant to Vietnamese people which do appreciate the period of family union. It remains itself traditional values that all of the generation have to preserve carefully. Thanks for reading. We hope with this post, you guys can understand more about our culture, the Vietnamese culture.



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