Authentic Vietnamese Cooking: Food from a Family Table

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Refined, subtle, challenging, and accessible all at the same time, the food of Vietnam was the first true fusion cuisine, blending the techniques and ingredients of French and Chinese culinary traditions. In Authentic Vietnamese Cooking, culinary writer and consultant Corinne Trang introduces you to the pleasures of regional Vietnamese cooking. Born in France's Loire Valley to a French mother and Cambodian-born Chinese father, and raised in Phnom Penh, Paris, and New York, Trang shares more than 100 delicious, ...
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Overview

Refined, subtle, challenging, and accessible all at the same time, the food of Vietnam was the first true fusion cuisine, blending the techniques and ingredients of French and Chinese culinary traditions. In Authentic Vietnamese Cooking, culinary writer and consultant Corinne Trang introduces you to the pleasures of regional Vietnamese cooking. Born in France's Loire Valley to a French mother and Cambodian-born Chinese father, and raised in Phnom Penh, Paris, and New York, Trang shares more than 100 delicious, authentic Vietnamese recipes designed especially for the home cook.

In this beautiful volume, the complicated processes of assimilation, adaptation, and evolution have been distilled into magnificent dishes that represent the three distinct culinary regions of Vietnam: the Simple North, the Sophisticated Center, and the Spicy South. There are recipes for family meals and special occasions, sauces, marinades, flavored oils, soups, noodle dishes, and more.

Trang translates the complex flavors of Vietnamese cuisine into easy-to-follow, step-by-step recipes, so even inexperienced cooks can create such classic dishes as Cha Gio (Spring Rolls), Sup Cua Mang Tay (Crab and Asparagus Soup), Pho Bo (Hanoi Beef and Rice Noodle Soup), Tom Nuong Xa (Grilled Lemongrass Prawns), Ga Nuong Toi (Garlic-Roasted Baby Chicken), and Banh Gan (Coconut Creme Caramel).

Enhanced by stunning photographs, Authentic Vietnamese Cooking also includes sections on essential ingredients, equipment, and techniques; sample seasonal menus: and a list of mail-order sources and Web sites for securing hard-to-find items.

Rich with historical, cultural,and personal anecdotes, Authentic Vietnamese Cooking brings the experience and pleasures of Corinne Trang's family table to yours.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Vietnamese cuisine, which fuses French and Chinese traditions, is no stranger to the American palate, and food writer Trang, raised by a French mother and a Cambodian-born Chinese father, is ideally suited to become its latest proponent. Subtly combining such familiar ingredients as chilies, cilantro, garlic, star anise and lime, Trang also calls for rarer components like Thai basil (for which Italian is no substitute), lotus seeds, and dried squid and shrimp. Though home cooks will have to scavenge Asian markets for ingredients, they will not be intimidated by the recipes. The dishes are as intriguing as Pineapple and Anchovy Dipping Sauce for beef and as familiar as Chicken Curry. Stuffed Fish is a carp or sea bass filled with a redolent paste of pork, reconstituted shiitake mushrooms, ginger and fish sauce. Spicy Beef and Carrot Stew with its five-spice powder, lemongrass and coconut milk has evolved from the classic French dish, Boeuf aux Carottes. Because most Vietnamese main-course recipes call for sugar or another sweetening agent, the desserts are traditionally fresh fruits. Trang, however, does offer recipes for Toasted Coconut Ice Cream and Sesame Rice Dumplings. Her inspired, often simple dishes will nicely stretch the boundaries of home kitchen fare. (Dec.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Mark Bittman
The story of Corinne Trang's family personifies the story of Vietnam. And so her book, "Authentic Vietnamese Cooking," not only serves as a good introduction to the cuisine, but also gives a sense of how the country's history has shaped its food.
The New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684864440
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 12/1/1999
  • Edition description: ILLUSTRATE
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 7.42 (w) x 9.48 (h) x 0.73 (d)

Read an Excerpt

From Chapter One Condiments are an integral part of nearly every Vietnamese dish. The cuisine assumes that they necessarily complete an item rather than optionally enhance it. Complex in flavors and well balanced in terms of sweet and savory as well as texture, they are never used to mask an ingredient. Suffice it to say that a Vietnamese table without its array of condiments is a table that has not yet been fully set. u There are four basic groupings of condiments: dipping sauces, pickles, flavorings, and garnishes. Many incorporate the most important -- in fact, defining -- Vietnamese dipping sauce and seasoning, nuoc mam, or fish sauce. The best version is made on the island of Phu Quoc in the Gulf of Thailand in the South. It is made of a silvery, almost translucent type of anchovy called ca com. These anchovies are layered, salted, and left to ferment for months in wooden barrels. The first "juice" extraction happens after the first three months of fermentation, and it is poured back into the barrel on top of the layered anchovies. After another six months, the juices are extracted again, and it is this extraction that is considered the "first pressing," which is also the best quality. It is used plain, as a seasoning for the table, or as a base in dipping sauces. The second and third pressings, which follow, are weaker and are used for everyday cooking, in stir-fries and stews, for example. Fish sauce is to the Vietnamese what salt is to Westerners and soy sauce is to the Chinese. It is an integral part of the cuisine, for without it, a meal would not be considered a meal.

Vietnam's varied dipping sauces are important in all of its cuisines, and the most important of all is the indispensable nuoc mam cham (most often referred to as nuoc cham), fermented fish sauce diluted with lime juice, distilled white rice vinegar, sugar, fresh chilies, and garlic (page 42). It accompanies many, if not most, dishes, from the most elaborate meat and fish preparations to the most humble bowl of plain steamed rice. At home it is almost always on the table, and we often make batches large enough to last a few days.

Other dipping sauces are often equally interesting but are commonly served as an accompaniment to specific dishes. For example nuoc leo, peanut sauce (page 44) is served with nem nuong, grilled pork meatballs (page 200), or goi cuon, summer rolls (page 156); mam nem, pineapple and anchovy dip (page 46), complements beef dishes, specifically bo nhung dam, beef fondue (page 208).

Pickled and preserved vegetables comprise the second condiment category, and they are eaten almost on a daily basis. To pickle, the Vietnamese use white rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. To preserve, they use salted water. My mother used to pickle vegetables in great quantity to accompany barbecued meats and seafood, especially during the spring and summer months. Our favorites were always carrot, cucumber, and daikon, and this tradition continues today. I've also included a recipe for preserved mung bean sprouts, which are delicious served with grilled meats and seafood.

The third category includes flavorings that are generally not served at the table but are used during the preparation of various dishes. Sate -- peanut, garlic, and chili paste (page 49) -- is one of the many exotics used in Vietnam. It is often simply added to stir-fries, creating simple yet interesting meat, seafood, or vegetable dishes that can be served over steamed rice for lunch or dinner.

The fourth category is garnishes, which include fried shallots, scallion oil, and fried garlic oil. These are often drizzled over steamed pâtés, soups, and grilled meats or seafood. For example, fried shallots (page 51) are often sprinkled over a bowl of pho ga, rice noodle and chicken soup (page 87), to add a crunchy texture as well as sweeten the soup. Scallion oil complements cha dum, steamed beef pâté (page 213). Fried garlic adds a pungent, uplifting note to canh ca nau dua, a sweet and sour fish and pineapple soup (page 75).

Lastly, aromatic greens called traditional herbs and table salad are generally used to add texture, flavor, and freshness to cooked dishes brought to the table. Traditional herbs include such exotics as holy basil, rau ram, saw leaves, la lot leaves, cilantro, and mint, which are among the most commonly used. The table salad can include cooked rice vermicelli, lettuce leaves, sliced cucumber, unripe star fruit, fresh chilies, shredded carrot, and lime or lemon wedges. Traditional herbs are served generally with the table salad to complement cha gio, spring rolls (page 198), and nem nuong, grilled pork meatballs (page 200), for example, and specifically with pho, rice noodle and chicken, beef, or pork soups.

When preparing the table salad, make individual piles of each ingredient on one platter; traditional herbs are similarly arranged. With regard to the herbs, be sure to leave the stems intact, as it is up to each diner to pick the leaves off and use them as they prefer. The leaves are always freshly torn. You can find most of the exotics in Asian markets. If not, do not be discouraged. I always find that the problem goes away as long as you have cilantro, an herb that today is available in any supermarket.


Nuoc Cham
Fish Dipping Sauce

A meal without nuoc cham is no meal at all. Served as a dipping sauce with many dishes such as cha gio, spring rolls (page 198); banh xeo, sizzling "sound" crêpes (page 114); and grilled meats and seafood; it is perhaps the most important sauce you will learn to make. There are several variations on this recipe. If you like your sauce spicier, mince rather than slice the chilies and garlic. Sometimes distilled rice wine vinegar is used to round out the flavor. My aunt Loan likes to slice and add shallots, saying they make the sauce sweeter. Try it different ways, mild or hot, more sweet or sour, with or without shallots. All are interesting. Following is my favorite version, which balances the sweet, sour, and spicy levels. I suggest you make 2 cups, as it goes quickly. Any left over can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

Makes about 2 cups
5 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons water
1/3 cup fish sauce
1/2 cup lime or lemon juice (about 3 limes or 2 lemons)
1 large clove garlic, crushed, peeled, and sliced or minced
1 or more bird's eye or Thai chilies, seeded, and sliced or minced
1 shallot, peeled, thinly sliced, rinsed, and drained (optional)

1. Whisk together the sugar, water, fish sauce, and lime or lemon juice in a bowl until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the garlic, chili, and shallot (if using), and let stand for 30 minutes before serving.

I've been making nuoc cham ever since I can remember. In fact, it was perhaps the first Vietnamese recipe I learned to make as a child. Nobody liked chopping the garlic, so I was stuck doing it. I became such an expert at making this sauce that every time we cooked, my mother would ask me to make it. The one difficult thing was to please both my mother and father simultaneously. She liked it sour, while he preferred it sweet. I resolved this quandary by creating a finely balanced version that allowed all of the various flavors to come out, and I continue to use it to this day.


Nuoc Chanh Ot
Sweet and Spicy Lemon Dipping Sauce

My aunt Huoy, who lived in Saigon, showed me how to make this dipping sauce. The ingredients are basically the same as for nuoc cham (page 42), but this very spicy sauce is undiluted with water and therefore is much more concentrated. It is best eaten with steamed lobsters and crabs (page 159).

Makes about 1 cup
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice and pulp
1/4 cup fish sauce
1 large clove garlic, crushed, peeled, and minced
3 bird's eye or Thai chilies, seeded and minced

1. Use a mortar and pestle to pound the sugar, lemon juice and pulp, fish sauce, garlic, and chilies into a thick sauce.


Nuoc Leo
Peanut Dipping Sauce

Throughout Southeast Asia, there are many recipes for peanut sauce, but the Vietnamese version is the lightest one I have ever tasted. It seems that you can have the authentic one only in Vietnam or at home. Most of the time in Vietnamese restaurants, peanut butter is mixed with hoisin sauce and some ground peanuts are tossed in. The result is very pasty and not very refined. This peanut sauce is true to the original in Vietnam, being fluid and light. The secret is the chicken stock, which lightens the sauce and allows you to taste all the ingredients.

Makes about 2 cups
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 or more bird's eye or Thai chilies, seeded and minced
3 ounces unsalted roasted peanuts, 1 tablespoon chopped, the rest finely ground (but not butter)
1 cup chicken stock (page 61)
1/3 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar

1. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir-fry the garlic and chilies until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the ground peanuts and stir until they give up some of their natural oil, about 5 minutes more.
2. Add the chicken stock, coconut milk, hoisin sauce, fish sauce, and sugar, and bring just to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the oil from the peanuts starts surfacing, about 15 minutes. Transfer sauce to a heatproof serving bowl, garnish with chopped peanuts, and serve.


Nuoc Xa Ot
Spicy Lemongrass Soy Dipping Sauce

This is a wonderful sauce to accompany canh nam don thit, stuffed mushroom soup (page 76); or ca nhoi, stuffed fish (page 142). The Vietnamese have adopted soy sauce from the Chinese, but they most often cook with it rather than make dipping sauces. Vietnamese fried tofu is usually served with this soy sauce dip, a combination inspired by Chinese cuisine. Lemongrass, however, is most definitely a Vietnamese addition, as the Chinese do not use it.

Makes about 1 cup
1/3 cup thin soy sauce
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 stalk lemongrass, outer leaves and tough green tops removed, root end trimmed, and stalk finely ground
2 scallions, trimmed and julienned into 1-inch-long thin strips
2 bird's eye or Thai chilies, seeded and thinly sliced diagonally

1. Place the soy sauce in a heatproof serving bowl. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the lemongrass, scallions, and chilies and fry until fragrant and the lemongrass turns a golden color, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and immediately pour into the soy sauce.


Mam Nem
Pineapple and Anchovy Dipping Sauce

Sweet ripened pineapple mixed with salty anchovies is an acquired taste. But as strange as it may sound, this combination is quite complementing to beef dishes, especially bo nhung dam, beef fondue (page 208). Finding a sweet ripened pineapple is not always easy. Canned pineapple should be your last resort. If you do use it, be sure it is canned in juice, not syrup.

Makes about 1 cup
1 tablespoon white rice vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon sugar
One 2-ounce can anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
2 bird's eye or Thai chilies, seeded and minced
1/2 cup minced ripe pineapple

1. Combine the vinegar, lemon juice, and sugar in a bowl and whisk until the sugar is completely dissolved.
2. Crush the anchovy fillets with a mortar and pestle. Add the garlic, chilies, and pineapple and crush until well combined. With a spoon, stir in the vinegar mixture.


Nuoc Mam Gung
Ginger Dipping Sauce

This ginger sauce is perfect for the steamed or simmered chicken for which it was developed. Whenever we serve com ga, ginger and garlic rice with chicken (page 103), this sauce always accompanies it.

Makes about 1 cup
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Juice of 1 lime
3 ounces fresh ginger, peeled and finely ground
1 scallion, root end and tough green tops removed, minced
2 bird's eye or Thai chilies, seeded and minced
1/2 cup vegetable oil

1. Combine the fish sauce, sugar, and lime juice in a bowl, and whisk until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the ginger, scallion, chilies, and oil and mix well. Allow to stand for 30 minutes prior to serving.


Dua Gia
Preserved Mung Bean Sprouts

Mung bean sprouts are eaten a lot in Vietnamese cuisine. They're stir-fried with meats, used as stuffing, and preserved in salt brine as a condiment. A great combination, if you would like to experiment, is to preserve the mung bean sprouts with scallions. Refrigerate for up to a week.

Serves 4
2 tablespoons coarse sea salt
2 pounds mung bean sprouts, root ends trimmed
1 scallion, root end and tough green tops removed, cut into 1-inch-long pieces and quartered lengthwise (optional)

1. Bring 2 cups water and the salt to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Remove from the heat and let cool until warm. Mix the sprouts and scallion (if using) and pack into a jar with the salted water to cover. Allow to cool, close with the lid, and refrigerate for 48 hours prior to serving.


Rau Cai Chua
Pickled Vegetables

Pickled vegetables have long been condiments at the Vietnamese table. Their crunchiness and sweet, salty, and sour flavor especially complement grilled or fried fish, seafood, poultry, and meat. Whereas the daikon and carrot need at least 24 hours to absorb the flavor of the rice vinegar marinade, the more delicate cucumber needs only 4 to 6 hours. In Vietnamese restaurants pickled daikon is often served with laqué duck (page 189). In my family we like to serve a combination of the three with it.

Serves 8
1 pound carrots, peeled, cut into 2-inch-long matchsticks
3 tablespoons coarse sea salt
1 pound daikon, peeled, cut into 2-inch-long by H-inch- wide thin planks
6 tablespoons sugar
1 cup white rice vinegar
1 1/2 pounds cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced diagonally 1/8-inch thick

1. Put the carrots in a sieve set over a bowl. Toss carrots with 1 tablespoon of the salt and let stand to get rid of water content, about 45 minutes. Gently press the carrots against the sieve to remove any remaining moisture. Rinse and drain. Place the carrots in a clean kitchen towel, then twist the towel to squeeze out any excess water.
2. Repeat the process using the daikon.
3. Whisk together the sugar and vinegar until sugar is completely dissolved. Divide this pickling mixture among 3 quart-size plastic bags and set 1 bag aside to use in step 4. Add the carrots and daikon separately to the other
2 bags, seal, and toss to coat evenly. Lay bags flat on a plate and refrigerate at least 24 hours, turning the bags over every hour as possible.
4. After about 20 hours, repeat step 1 using the cucumbers. After draining, place the cucumbers in the third plastic bag of pickling mixture, seal, and toss to coat evenly. Lay the bag flat on a plate and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours, turning bag over every hour as possible.
5. Drain the carrots, daikon, and cucumbers well at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes before serving.


Sate
Peanut, Garlic, and Chili Paste

In Southeast Asia, sate paste differs from country to country. This combination of garlic, curry powder, chilies, and peanuts is a simple Vietnamese sate I make at home. Although I use it mostly to stir-fry meat, seafood, and even rice or egg noodle dishes, sometimes I like to add it to marinades. If you plan on grilling marinated meats, the spiciness of sate is delicious, but use it in moderate quantities, as it can be very spicy if you're not careful.

Makes about 1/2 cup
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon curry powder
3 to 4 dried red chilies, seeded and ground
1/4 cup finely ground unsalted roasted peanuts

1. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir-fry the garlic until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the curry powder, chilies, and peanuts and stir until the mixture forms a paste, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Transfer to a jar and refrigerate until ready to use. When my family first moved to the United States, we had to make many adjustments in addition to learning a new language. We were used to shopping in the Quartier Chinois, the Chinese quarter, located in the 13th district of Paris. Although it bore a Chinese name, the shops were owned principally by Vietnamese people of Chinese descent who sold a broad cross-section of Asian products. In New York's Chinatown we found that many vendors were from Hong Kong and Canton rather than Southeast Asia, and so did not have some of the ingredients we were used to finding, such as Vietnamese sate paste. This is a family recipe developed over 20 years ago. With it, you will never have to go without.


Hanh La Phi
Scallion Oil

Scallion oil, made with thinly sliced scallions and vegetable oil, is commonly brushed over grilled meats, seafood, and steamed meat pâtés, or drizzled over rice or noodles. There are several ways of making it. For example, you can heat the oil first, turn it off, and then add the scallions. Or you can add the scallions to the hot oil and keep the combined ingredients over the flame for just a minute or so. Feel free to experiment. Scallion oil can be kept refrigerated for up to a week.

Makes about 1 cup
1 cup vegetable oil
6 scallions, root ends and tough green tops removed, thinly sliced

1. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the scallions and fry until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool, then transfer to a heatproof jar.

VARIATION:Toi phi dau, fried garlic oil, is especially complementary to seafood soups such as canh ca nau dua, pineapple and fish soup (page 75), and hu tieu do bien, noodle with seafood soup (page 92). Reminiscent of roasted garlic in flavor and aroma, it should be used sparingly, as a little will go a long way. Heat 3-4 cup vegetable oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add 8 peeled and minced large cloves of garlic and fry until light golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Allow to cool briefly and transfer the fried garlic and oil to a heat-resistant jar. Allow to cool completely before sealing with a lid. Fried garlic oil will keep about a week refrigerated.


Hanh Phi
Fried Shallots

Fried shallots complement many dishes with their sweet flavor and crisp texture. It is important not to over-fry the shallots or let them become dark brown because they will become bitter. A light golden color is preferable, as it will give you the sweet flavor you're looking for. If you are sensitive to strong flavors in general, or to shallots and other onions specifically, and want a more subtle flavor, soak the sliced shallots in cold water for 30 minutes. Then drain them on a paper towel until completely dry prior to frying them. Properly drained, they can be refrigerated for up to a month in an airtight jar.

Makes about 1 cup
I cup vegetable oil
8 shallots, peeled, sliced thinly crosswise, and separated into rings

1. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Working in batches, add the shallots and fry, stirring frequently, until golden, about 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel to drain. Repeat the process until you have fried all the shallots. Allow to cool completely and transfer to a jar.


Sa Lach Dia
Table Salad

Traditionally, a table salad -- traditional herbs (page 53), cucumbers, carrots, star fruit, and rice vermicelli -- is served with finger foods such as cha gio, spring rolls (page 198), nem nuong, grilled pork meatballs (page 200), or banh xeo, sizzling "sound" crêpes (page 114). Often a bit of each ingredient is wrapped around a cooked morsel with a lettuce leaf. The table salad and wrapper, however, can vary according to the dish you serve. For example, if you were to serve nem nuong, you would use a softened rice paper rather than a lettuce leaf as a wrapper in order to add starch to the meal. If you wanted to serve banh xeo, stuffed rice flour crêpe, the rice vermicelli would be omitted because the crêpe provides the starch. It can be a little confusing, but one thing to remember is that your meal must be balanced with vegetable, protein, and starch.

Serves 4 to 6
1 head Boston lettuce, leaves separated, or
12 small round or triangle rice papers, soaked
1/2 cucumber, peeled, halved, seeds removed, and thinly sliced
2 to 3 carrots, peeled and julienned or shredded
1 unripe star fruit, thinly sliced into stars
1 cup rice vermicelli (optional)

1. Arrange the lettuce (if using) or rice papers, cucumber, carrots, and star fruit on a large serving platter or several plates.
2. Place vermicelli (if using) in a dish with lukewarm water to cover. Let soak until pliable, about 20 minutes. Bring a pot filled with water to a boil over high heat. Drain the vermicelli and, working in batches, place them in a sieve and lower into the boiling water. Untangle the noodles with chopsticks and boil until tender but firm, about 3 seconds. Drain and set on the plate with the other ingredients.

NOTE: Rice papers are traditionally used to wrap grilled meats. First, however, they must be soaked in lukewarm water to cover, about 10 minutes, and drained on paper towels. A combination of lettuce leaves and a small amount of rice vermicelli is also acceptable.


Rau
Traditional Herbs

Some of these herbs are hard to get unless you live near a Southeast Asian food market. Mint and cilantro, however, are available in most markets, lessening the problem of not finding the more exotic herbs. Italian basil is not a substitute for holy, or Thai, basil, as its flavor is much different. This traditional herb garnish is used in soups or served alongside the "table salad" to complement grilled or fried meats and seafood dishes.

Serves 4 to 6
1 bunch cilantro
1 bunch mint
1 bunch holy (Thai) basil
1 bunch saw leaf (ngo gai)

1. Keeping the stems and leaves intact, clean the cilantro, mint, holy basil, and saw leaves thoroughly, drain on paper towels, and arrange on a plate in individual piles.

Copyright © 1999 by Corinne Trang

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Table of Contents

Foreword 10
Preface: Vietnamese Family Feast 13
Essential Ingredients 23
Equipment & Techniques 31
1. Condiments 39
2. Stocks & Soups 55
3. Rice, Noodles, & Bread 95
4. Vegetables 121
5. Fish & Seafood 137
6. Poultry & Meats 173
7. Sweets & Drinks 223
Seasonal Menus 242
Mail-Order Sources 245
Index 247
Table of Equivalents 255
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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2003

    A good beginner's Vietnamese cookbook

    Being an American with Vietnamese blood coursing through my veins, I find this cookbook a great way for a beginner to learn, understand, and cook Vietnamese dishes. Ms. Trang brings the essence of popular Vietnamese dishes into English and actually writes it into recipes. I say this as if it is a new concept because it is. Most vietnamese cook according to feel and taste and seldom have a written ratio for ingredients. Also, Ms. Trang goes into detail about specific ingredients and discusses the history and signifance of each. I have tried a few of her recipes (the nuoc cham-fish dipping sauce and the canh ca nau dua-fish and pineapple soup)and they're not so bad (I did adjust flavoring to my liking of course). There are more recipes that I wish she could have added such as Bun Rieu which is a very popular vietnamese dish along with other variations of popular dishes. For example... for Hu Tieu, she only has one type but there are many variations to this delectable noodle dish. All in all, it makes for a really good beginner's book in the art of Vietnamese cuisine.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2000

    interesting read and good recipes

    As a Vietnamese person who grew up watching my mom cook, I realized she never used any 'written' recipes and everything was in her head, to be altered and fine-tuned as needed. <p> I'm not a bad cook, but I'm someone who prefers to have written recipes and alter them as I need it. This book provides me with that basis and I recognize a lot of foods which I remember my mom making. The author also puts a lot of ingredients I only knew by there Vietnamese name to English words which helps when you're shopping in a multi-ethnic store and the common language is English.

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