Vietnamese Nuts – Interesting History of Peanuts and Cashews

Peanuts and Cashew

People who come to Vietnam; may be surprised to see that Vietnamese food uses a lot of peanuts and some cashew nuts. It is surprising that neither one of these nuts is native to Vietnam.

Both peanuts and cashew nuts were introduced to Asia by Portuguese and Spanish traders. The peanut is native to South America, while the Cashew nut is known to be native to Brazil. Neither of these nuts is native to anywhere in Asia, yet today they are essential ingredients in Asian cooking, especially Vietnamese dishes.

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Vietnamese food uses many nuts, especially peanuts, in their cooking. Without these nuts, Vietnamese food would not taste the time.

The peanut and the cashew nuts have a fascinating history of finding their way to the Vietnamese dinner tables.

Portuguese Traders and The Peanut

The peanut grows in tropical and subtropical regions throughout the world. But the peanut is native to the western hemisphere of South America. It is thought that the peanut spread across the globe when Spanish and Portuguese explorers discovered how versatile the peanut was and started to carry it on its ships as food to trade.

Portuguese traders introduced the peanut to China in the early 17th century or during China’s Ming Dynasty. The peanut was first introduced to Fujian Province at the start of the 17th century; by the end of that century, it had spread to other parts of China.

The Chinese ruled Vietnam for over 1,000 years. When they ruled Vietnam, they brought them a lot of food and cooking techniques; we can assume it was the Chinese who also helped ensure that Vietnamese cuisine included nuts in their dishes as peanuts.

American missionaries were said to have introduced the Virginia peanuts in the middle of the 19th century. I have always found it fascinating to see signs advertising boiled peanuts when you drive through states like Georgia. Almost identical boiled peanuts are found in both China and Vietnam.

Peanuts are a food source in Asia; today, peanuts are a staple in many Asian dishes, especially in Vietnamese cuisine. In Vietnam, you usually find peanuts in Vietnamese salads and the peanut dipping sauce for the southern Vietnamese spring rolls.

Peanuts are such an essential part of Vietnamese food that you would almost think it was a food native to Vietnam. The Vietnamese have adopted many foods that are not native to Vietnam.

The Spanish and Portuguese traders also introduced other crops to China and Asia, including sweet potatoes, maize, peppers, tomatoes, pumpkins, and tobacco. These crops are now considered staples in Asia and Southeast Asia cuisine.

The Cashew Nut And India

The cashew nut is another nut that you will find in Vietnam and China. However, I must say that the Chinese will use cashews in the stirfry more than I have seen in Vietnam. Many Vietnamese dishes tend to favor peanuts.

In all the stores here in Vietnam, you can find cashew nuts that are locally grown. It has always been considered one of the staple nuts of Vietnam and most of Asia.

But even though you can find cashew nuts throughout Vietnam, they are much more expensive than peanuts. That may be why many Vietnamese prefer to eat peanuts in their dishes instead of the more expensive cashew nut.

The cashew is a nut that is native to Northeast Brazil. During the 16th century, Portuguese traders introduced cashews to India and some Portuguese colonies in Africa, such as Mozambique. For centuries ago, adventurous Portuguese sailors came down the Indian coast and brought this wonderful tree known as the cashew.

From there, the cashew took its deep roots in the coastal region of India.

The Vietnamese have taken so much to this cashew nut production that today Vietnam is considered the king of global cashew nut producers. Vietnam is said to be producing 3 to 4 times more than India, which is astonishing because India has always been known to be the home of cashew nut production in Asia.

This is an excellent example of how adaptive Vietnamese food has been to bring in many new vegetable nuts, and other things into their cooking. The Vietnamese food of 300 years ago is not the same today.

Over the years, the Vietnamese have refined their food and adopted ingredients such as peanuts to continue to add to the taste and allure of Vietnam’s delicious cuisine.

You would like to learn how to make Vietnamese peanut dipping sauce, you can find out more here.

This dipping sauce goes with the spring rolls, and here are all of the different recipes of Vietnamese spring rolls.

Here are some of our other versions of these delicious Vietnamese fresh spring rolls and a link to the recipe:

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Vietnamese Peanut Dipping Sauce Recipe (Sốt Bơ Đậu Phộng)

The Vietnamese peanut dipping sauce is a popular dish to eat with the Vietnamese fresh spring rolls. The classic Vietnamese peanut dipping sauce contains nutrients, taste, and flavor. The Vietnamese Peanut Dippin Sauce is delicious and full of nourishment.

To learn more, you can read our blog on Vietnamese Peanut Dipping Sauce Recipe (Sốt Bơ Đậu Phộng) by clicking here.

Vietnamese Cucumber and Peanut Salad Recipe -Nộm Dưa Chuột

The Vietnamese cucumber salad is a Vietnamese salad that you will find on the dinner table of many Vietnamese families. It is a straightforward salad to make that is filled with fresh ingredients.

By clicking here, you can discover more by reading our blog Vietnamese Cucumber and Peanut Salad Recipe -Nộm Dưa Chuột

Anita L Hummel

Hi, I live in Hanoi, Vietnam but spend time traveling the region. I love to share with you things I see and learn through my travels.

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Vietnamese Nuts - Interesting History of Peanuts and Cashews