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Into the Vietnamese Kitchen: Treasured Foodways, Modern Flavors Hardcover – October 1, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Vietnam-born Nguyen writes passionately and knowledgeably about the history and fundamentals of Vietnamese cuisine and offers more than 175 tempting and largely nonintimidating recipes, with the Vietnamese translation of the name beneath the English name and headnotes that provide excellent context and helpful tips. Chapters begin with alluring introductory text—the first set of recipes, for example, are the "Gifts to the Mouth," which the author explains is a translation of the Vietnamese phrase for snacking. The chapter includes such dishes as Beef and Jicama Hand Rolls, the Baguette Sandwich—the "one sandwich in the Vietnamese repertoire... a tour de force"—and Fried Shrimp Chips. Other chapters are Sacred Soups (Chicken Dumpling and Chrysanthemum Leaf Soup is one beautiful entry), Classic Meats (like Beef Flank and Ginger Simmered in Caramel Sauce), Vegetables Many Ways, and Delightful Sweets and Palate Refreshers, which features Grilled Bananas with Coconut Sticky Rice and Lemongrass Ice Cream. Chapters on noodles, poultry, fish and shellfish, and basic sauces, as well as guides to Vietnamese ingredients, round out this culturally rich culinary tour. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
James Beard Award nominee
“Andrea Nguyen may be to Vietnamese food what Julia Child was to French fare and Barbara Tropp to Chinese cuisine.”
“Best for: Anyone who wants to fall in love—truly, madly, deeply—with Vietnamese food.”
—San Jose Mercury News
“[A] smart, soulful collection of Vietnamese recipes.”
“A comprehensive take on a delicate yet dynamic cuisine.”
“No other author has presented such a detailed account of the culinary abilities of Vietnamese home cooks, and subjects like the role of pickled vegetables and the techniques of charcuterie have never been so clearly explained for a wide audience.”
—New York Times
"Only now is Vietnamese food culture getting the attention it deserves, and a book of this beauty and seriousness will do much to explain the origins, traditions, and refinement of the country's cuisine.”
—John Mariani's Virtual Gourmet
“Nguyen makes Vietnamese cuisine accessible with this extensive cookbook, which stretches from soup to charcuterie.”
“An impressive, carefully researched, and thoroughly readable guide to Vietnamese food and culinary tradition.”
Top customer reviews
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The positive aspects of this book include the explanations of why you would use one ingredient over another or why Vietnamese do one thing over one. I appreciated the guidance on what fish sauce to buy. There were a lot of other great tips such as what do when you just have store bought chicken stock. The dishes listed include many of the ones that I tried throughout Vietnam especially in the North and South. They did not include many of the dishes that I tried in the central part, though. I was only there a month so I did not try everything. There was a wide variety of dishes and I appreciated that the Vietnamese name was included unlike the Vietnamese Home Cooking book because I am more familiar with the Vietnaemese name and not the English name. Basically this is a treasure trove of amazing facts, information, and dishes. I am glad I bought it for these reasons.
The negative is that there are not enough pictures for me, a novice who is not very familiar with all of the dishes. For example, if you want to make the steamed buns with pork, there are no pictures showing you the steps in making them like in Vietnamese Home Cooking. I need Charles Pham's book if I really want to make this dish. Also, some of her dishes are overly complicated such as Chicken Pho and include steps that I cannot do because of my burner. So I had to read other books and go online to find alternative ways to cook the food. Also, with Banh Xeo (Vietnamese Crepes), she says to make the flour by hand and not use store bought rice flour, which is really overly complicated. I learned how to make this dish in my cooking class using store bought rice flour. Other cook books and videos online say use store bought rice flour. Using her book requires you to do some research online and to possibly have a second and third book to help you. The recipes in all 3 books are not the same. For instance, the ingredients for papaya salad in all 3 books are very different..
I have cooked 2 recipes from the book so far: papaya salad and chicken pho. I messed up on the papaya salad . Part of the problem with the dish was my fault (I did not eat papaya salad in Vietnam, but ate other salads), but I think the recipes from other books would have given a more flavorful dish with a lot more texture (carrots, mint, and fried shallots). The chicken pho turned out well, but i had done a lot of research before cooking it and had to use an alternative cooking method for the onions and ginger. I watched tons of videos, so I was well prepared (unlike the papaya salad). I think her instructions were confusing especially about making the broth, but I am also not familiar enough with making broth or stock. Anyways, the broth was very flavorful and complex. I loved the herbs. Finding necks and backs was difficult and I didn't find any. I used chicken wings.instead and the neck from the whole chicken. I think the flavor was similar to what I ate in Vietnam.
I like this book and I prefer it to the other ones from the library, but I still need those other 2 to help me cook.
Having picked many recipes from Andreas website over the years, looking for new ideas and subtle techniques my extended family seem to not be able to tell me about, i finally decided to buy a copy of her book.
Unlike most western books of this subject, which cover the obvious recipes (pho bo, goi cuon, etc) and often not that well, Andreas book covers a wide range of regional cuisines and spends a lot of space and effort explaining the fundamentals of the cooking techniques, how to make the various ingredients needed (instead of expecting you to go out and chemically ridden versions of them at the stores), and what everything is.
I particularly like that she uses the Vietnamese names for everything in addition to English, not only does this create a more comprehensive and respectful book, but it is also helpful to be able to get the exact herb required for a meal. So many other Vietnamese cookbooks for the western market put some generic name for a herb in the ingredients (such as Vietnamese Balm, yeh right, try and find that in the grocery store), and without actually knowing which one is supposed to be there from experience the recipe is hopeless. Andrea does not do any of this, and uses the real name for everything. She also includes everything that is supposed to go in a meal, not some generic item such as mixed Vietnamese herbs.
Some of the older books published in Europe did these things because the ingredients were just not available locally. But that is a poor excuse, as other regions have them available, and people usually want to learn how to do things right in the kitchen, not "sort of close". Even in France one could grow your own Tia To or Rau Ram in a window box, and the cookbooks of the day should have been more helpful in this area.
For established cooks who already know how to cook Vietnamese foods, this book is still very helpful to extend ones' repertoire, and for people wishing to learn the basics and produce their first meals on the their own, this is probably the best book i have ever seen on the subject. Even someone who was raised Vietnamese overseas, would find this book very educational and useful.
There are a couple of recipes that are not so great, for example the Cha Ca Thang Long (which she calls Cha Ca) misses the mark, and there are some basic common southern family recipes missing from the book, such as Cha Ca Thac Lac, and the book could do with more basic soup recipes (bitter mellon, purple yam, kabucha etc) as soup is so important to the basic meal structure; but it is still one of the best cookbooks on Vietnamese food i have seen.
So my short summary is - I wish i had this book when i was first learning to cook Vietnamese food. It would have been so useful. thank you Andrea.
There are recipes that seem very doable and others that I know I will never attempt, but all cookbooks are like that.
I have found it with Andrea's book and it is my 'bible' for Vietnamese recipes. I have made at least 3-4 recipes to date, and they have been delicious. Granted, I do personalize recipes to my own taste, as everyone should, but the basic guideline is there in very clear written instructions.
Thank you Andrea, for sharing your immense talent with fellow foodies and for making me proud to cook Vietnamese dishes for my friends and family!