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Destination: Vietnam

Irresistible in every way.

Even before you taste it, your senses are telling you a dazzling experience awaits. Aromatic herbs and pungent fish sauce evoke curiosity. A colorful medley of fresh veggies extend a visual invitation. And the actual taste? That’s where it all comes together in Vietnamese cooking. The acclaimed and diverse cuisine of Vietnam is noted for its delicious balance of flavors. All five – sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami – are often represented in a single dish. The combination is irresistible.

National flower, lotus. National cuisine, equally as distinctive.

Vietnam is a country comparable in size to Italy with food traditions centuries old. Close contact with neighboring cultures has shaped historic and contemporary Vietnamese cuisine, and the country has incorporated items from farther away such as French baguettes and chile peppers from the Americas. But with a coastline of more than 2,000 miles (excluding islands), it’s fish and seafood that influence much of Vietnam’s cooking. Fish sauce in particular is a key ingredient, and it’s included in this new recipe for Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken With Glass Noodles. A fermented sauce made from anchovies and salt, fish sauce is an umami staple, similar to gochujang in Korea or miso in Japan.

Prep, then proceed.

In addition to fish sauce, Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken With Glass Noodles builds its rich flavor profile with brown sugar, limes, crushed red pepper and other more. The recipe is simple and cooks very quickly, but the essential first step for a successful stir fry is preparation. Cook the noodles, and make sure everything is measured and cut or shredded before you start heating up the wok. Stir fry the veggies first and remove. Then add the chicken, and when it’s done, return the vegetables to the wok along with the noodles. That’s it. Top with green onions and fresh mint, cilantro or Thai basil.

More fish sauce, please.

Vietnam isn’t the only country that enjoys fish sauce. Other countries include Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar and China. In ancient Greece and Rome, a fish sauce called garum was popular. As you get familiar with fish sauce in Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken With Glass Noodles, let the balance of flavors inspire even more creativity.