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Vietnamese Home Cooking Hardcover – September 25, 2012
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Featured Recipe: Sichuan Cucumber Pickles
These quick pickles need to sit in vinegar for only a few hours before you can eat them. They're great with fried items, since the inegar acts as a sort of palate cleanser. But the ginger, Sichuan peppercorns, and sambal oelek—a prepared red chile paste that is readily available at most grocery stores—make them different than the standard cucumber pickle.
- 1 pound English cucumbers, halved lengthwise and cut on the diagonal into -inch-thick slices
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely julienned
- 1 to 2 fresh Thai chiles, stemmed, seeded, and julienned
- 4 cups rice vinegar
- 1¼ cups sugar
- 1½ teaspoons sambal chile paste, also known as sambal oelek
- ½ cup toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
- ¼ cup whole dried red chiles, such as árbol
In a bowl, toss together the cucumber slices and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Transfer the cucumbers to a colander and let drain in the sink for 2 hours.
Rinse the cucumbers briefly under cold running water and drain well. Transfer to a bowl, add the ginger and fresh Thai chiles, and toss to mix. In a separate bowl, stir together the vinegar, sugar, sambal, and the remaining 2 tablespoons salt until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Set aside.
In a small frying pan, heat the sesame oil over medium heat. Add the Sichuan peppercorns and toast for 10 seconds. Add the dried chiles and toast for 10 seconds longer, until the chiles darken slightly.
Pour the contents of the frying pan over the cucumbers, then add the vinegar solution and toss well. Let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate. The pickles are ready to eat in 2 hours. They will keep, refrigerated, for up to 1 week.
Charles Phan’s Vietnamese Home Cooking captures the very heart of Vietnamese food: fresh, pure, full of life, and vibrant with flavor. His beautiful pictures, stories, and recipes make it completely irresistible.
—Alice Waters, chef, author, and proprietor of Chez Panisse
The great appeal of Charles Phan’s cooking at The Slanted Door has always been its vivid purity of flavor. It isn’t necessarily simple food, but there’s not a soupçon of trickery or gratuitous filigree involved. In his long-awaited, warmly written first cookbook, Phan reveals the secrets of his approach to the great and varied food of his native Vietnam.
—Colman Andrews, editorial director of TheDailyMeal.com
A truly magical and illuminating journey into the cooking of Vietnam, with recipes so thoroughly brilliant they will not only allow you to better understand the cuisine of that country, but they will also make you a better cook, Asian or otherwise.
—James Oseland, editor-in-chief of Saveur, author of Cradle of Flavor
Like the best cooking is, Charles Phan’s food is deceivingly complex. With this book, Charles shows you how to unravel that code and make delicious Vietnamese food at home.
—David Chang, chef/owner of Momofuku
Top Customer Reviews
I can tell that this one is going to get thumb-eared very quickly. This is the food that I gravitate towards, explained better and in more detail than any of the 50-odd other Asian cookbooks I own. The book goes deep, very deep, which delights me (I made rice paper!), but it also clearly explains utterly basic things, with photographs, so it's great for basic or even just aspiring cooks.
A quick example: the recipe for caramel sauce lists exactly two ingredients (palm sugar and fish sauce). Any competent 8 year-old could make it, it keeps for months, and the combination might well stun you: toss it with some shrimp and scallions, and dinner is READY. Can't find palm sugar? Substitute light brown and barely notice the difference. (But it's easier to melt any sugar in a 280F oven rather than on a stove burner.)
A slower example - Pork with Young Coconut Juice - is a recipe that takes second place to nothing on Earth. If you take the time to make the utterly porkalicious stock first, and find really fresh coconuts, jaws will drop. Same goes for the Lemongrass Beef Stew.
Uniquely for an Asian cookbook, it specifies good-quality, sustainable (pastured, grass-fed, etc) ingredients, even when making stock, and clearly explains why.
If you are interested, and just starting, you could spend YEARS with this book before you absorb it all. If you are Vietnamese-American, and looking for a cookbook to give your kids, this one is a very strong candidate. I recommend the hardcover rather than the softcover, or you might have to eventually replace it and lose years of hastily-scrawled notes, like my sugar/oven one, above. That kind of cookbook.
I am a sponge for new cooking techniques and new ingredients. I was born in the U. S. and my first language is English. I'm of Polish decent. I've been interested in Asian cooking for about four years now. I cook all kinds of dishes, but we really love fresh fish, oriental greens and the unique flavors found in Asian recipes. We love the simplicity of the dishes and we love the contrasts of salty, sweet, tangy and good Texas jasmine rice. Our winter garden is currently full--really full--of Asian greens and veggies. And with that said: I think this is a great cookbook. I've used it over and over again--in just the short few months I've owned it.
So, while I can't speak for someone born in Vietnam and relocated here and I can't speak for someone who has a Vietnamese Grandmother on which to rely, I can speak for a majority of those looking at this review and wondering whether to buy this book or not: You will learn a lot from this cookbook, and you will be happy you bought it (or proud you gave it as a present). Use it as a reference book; use it for its recipes; enjoy the pictures; delight in the way the author coaxes all of your senses to blossom; take it with you to your favorite Asian grocery store and smile a lot and nod your head while you refer to it as you search out ingredients, (yes, take it with you instead of just a grocery list and spread the word.)
The author went at this cookbook venture with the intent to teach.Read more ›
Phan includes a lot of background information, like how to differentiate between different types of dry noodles, clay pots, how to season a wok, etc. I like how he prefaces each recipe with a small intro, giving context to each recipe. There beautiful photos and some very helpful step-by-step instructions for making noodles and filleting fish. The photos at the beginning of the book begin to capture the spirit on the streets of Vietnam, though cursorily.
However, with the exception of a few recipes like "Banh Beo," or "Banh Cuon," "Bun Bo Hue," and "Pho," for whatever reason, Phan and his editors chose to omit the Vietnamese names of most dishes. For instance, the recipe "Catfish in Clay Pot" is one of our national and most recognized dishes. Why not include its actual name: "Ca Kho To?" Pork and Shimp Spring Rolls should likewise have the name "Goi Cuon;" Hot and Sour Shrimp Soup should also be "Canh Chua Tom," Grilled Pork Chops with Sweet Lemongrass Marinade should be "Suon Nuong Xa," and so forth. The naming convention of the recipes seems very arbitrary.
He also includes a lot of Chinese/Cantonese dishes, which reflects his own personal heritage, explaining that Chinese ingredients have infiltrated daily Vietnamese cooking. However, I find that the inclusion of those dishes sends a mixed message. This is Vietnamese-Chinese cooking, not just Vietnamese home cooking, as the title suggests.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I love it! The recipes are great. This is my 5th Vietnamese cookbook and my favorite. Making braised pork this week!Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
If there is one thing I can say about Charles Phan - its that he knows his food. From 'Slated door' fame - he has a book full of amazing recipes - each with his own touch. Read morePublished 2 months ago by The Dogg Pound
All the recipes are mouthwatering and most of them are easy to cook. This book is highly recommendable.Published 4 months ago by Douglas
Although I didn't purchase this book from Amazon felt I should write a review! It was given to me as a gift for Christmas. Read morePublished 5 months ago by susan
I love Vietnamese food too. This is an excellent cookbook. Thanks so much!Published 6 months ago by Yvonne Fuentes
I get this as a gift for my daughter-in-law to be and she is sure using it a lot. It is a great book for lots of pictures to help.Published 8 months ago by PKS
A terrific and very helpful book for cooking not only Vietnamese, but Asian cooking in general. The book was in excellent conditionPublished 9 months ago by Alan Schackman