NO TRIP to Vietnam is complete without tasting as much of the country's flavoursome food as possible.
The best place for hungry travellers is the booming food mecca of Ho Chi Minh City.
Food here is a mix of culinary cultures. Traditional southern Vietnamese dishes meet French, Indian and Chinese. The end result is delicious.
To help you discover some of Vietnam's best taste sensations, Leanne Kitchen and Red Pork Press have produced Ho Chi Minh City in 12 Dishes, including the best pho (soup noodles), banh mi (baguette sandwich), banh xeo (sizzling pancake) and Vietnamese coffee.
Plus, celebrity chef and city resident Luke Nguyen spills the beans on where he likes to dine when in town.
If you can't wait to get to Ho Chi Minh City, you can have a go at making your own goi cuon, or Vietnamese rolls, using rice paper rounds available from your local supermarket.
As Leanne explains:
"While not entirely unique to Vietnam (it also features in Cambodian cooking), rice paper is quintessential. Rolls made using dried rice paper, both fresh and fried, are eaten countrywide and there are heaps of regional variations, depending on local predilections.
Even if you've never set foot in Vietnam before, you'll probably know goi cuon, aka summer rolls, aka salad rolls, aka Vietnamese rolls, those translucent uncooked wraps stuffed (commonly but not always) with boiled pork, prawns, bun (rice vermicelli), vegetables and maybe garlic chives.
A delight of Ho Chi Minh City dining is the 'roll your own' (R.Y.O.) dish, best shared as part of a multi-course extravaganza.
The components are as varied as they are delicious - there might be lemongrass-grilled beef (bo nuong cuon banh trang), steamed pork with preserved prawns (banh trang cuon thit luoc), grilled prawns on sugar cane (chao tom an voi banh trang), or barbecued fish (ca nuong cuon banh trang).
Accompanied by copious lettuce leaves, herbs and vegetables, sometimes there are also slices of sour fruits like unripe banana or star fruit.
There's always vermicelli noodles and dipping sauces, like the ubiquitous nuoc cham, a peanut-hoisin sauce (nuoc leo) or a fermented fish sauce.
There'll be rice papers and water for dipping.
Everything is laid out on plates or a big platter and you help yourself to wrappers, fill them with leaves, herbs, noodles, pieces of meat/fish and fruits/vegetables to taste.
The coup de grace is rolling them artfully yourself (good luck with that), then smothering them in sauce before devouring."
- Ho Chi Minh City in 12 Dishes, Red Pork Press, RRP $24.99.