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- From the land comes rice. and from the sea and waterways fresh fish for nuoc mam (fish sauce: see the boxed text. Together they from the bedrock of Vietnamese cuisine. In supporting roles are the myriad pungent roots, leafy herbs and aromatic lubbers. which give Vietnamese salads, snacks, soups and stew's their distinctive fragrance and kick. But there are constants: for the Vietnamese cook. freshness and a balanced combination of flavors and textures are paramount.