Top positive review
102 people found this helpful
Very Good but not definitive
on January 4, 2000
I collect Vietnamese cookbooks and so found this cookbook very valuable:
1 - the recipes are relatively authentic; 2 - very easy to understand
This and Pham's _Best of Vietnamese and Thai Cooking_ should be the references bought though Routhier's _Foods of Viet Nam_ is considered a standard.
Pham's recipes are more westernized but background information is good and recipes are sound.
I have yet to track down independent publications from Australia but I would say this comes closest to the recipes garnered from personal interviews with Vietnamese home cooks.
Vietnamese cooking allows variation making room for available ingredients and influences (it is the best of fusion). So if the Trang recipe does not resemble the very traditional recipes of family it still contains the basic outline.
You will encounter recipes usually not covered such as pork pate and other delicacies.
I was also impressed that Trang decided to discuss exotic meats including dog. Usually Vietnamese and Asian cookbooks in general avoid the topic completely but Trang decided to confront the issue (bravo). Trang is quite correct that eating of certain exotic meats is restricted to males (aphrodisiacs) and interviews with Vietnamese cooks confirm this.
An essential reference for Vietnamese cookbooks but keep in mind that the home recipes are still varied and that this it is not an exhaustive source book.
Another thing to keep in mind that this book does not cover in great detail techniques regarding preparation of meats (asumption is made that you already know to slice against the grain for beef)
The most glaring flaw of meat preparation and options is demonstrated in the pho ba recipe which does mention the use of tendon but not its preparation. It skips tripe as well. Discusses condiments as sidebar but does not tell you what condiments to use with pho (hoisin, chili paste, nouc mam, lemon wedges).
A good recipe source but not definitive in technique. I would have on hand a book devoted to Asian preparation practice in conjunction with this book.
Overall, the best available American books for a Vietnamese collection are this book, Pham's _Best of Vietnamese and Thai Cooking_ and Nicole Routhier's _Foods of Viet Name_ or _The Best of Nicole Routhier_.
Recommended but not definitive.