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Into the Vietnamese Kitchen: Treasured Foodways, Modern Flavors [Hardcover]

Andrea Nguyen , Bruce Cost , Leigh Beisch
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 1 2006
When author Andrea Nguyen's family was airlifted out of Saigon in 1975, one of the few belongings that her mother hurriedly packed for the journey was her small orange notebook of recipes. Thirty years later, Nguyen has written her own intimate collection of recipes, INTO THE VIETNAMESE KITCHEN, an ambitious debut cookbook that chronicles the food traditions of her native country. Robustly flavored yet delicate, sophisticated yet simple, the recipes include steamy pho noodle soups infused with the aromas of fresh herbs and lime; rich clay-pot preparations of catfish, chicken, and pork; classic bánh mì sandwiches; and an array of Vietnamese charcuterie. Nguyen helps readers shop for essential ingredients, master core cooking techniques, and prepare and serve satisfying meals, whether for two on a weeknight or 12 on a weekend.Reviews

“Andrea Nguyen may be to Vietnamese food what Julia Child was to French fare and Barbara Tropp to Chinese cuisine.”—Chicago Tribune“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.”—Saveur“A comprehensive take on a delicate yet dynamic cuisine.”—Philadelphia Inquirer“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.”—Houston Chronicle“An impressive, carefully researched, and thoroughly readable guide to Vietnamese food and culinary tradition.”—Library Journal

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Product Description

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.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
The cuisine of Vietnam, with its refreshing flavors, varied textures, and vibrant colors, intrigues, beguiles, and charms. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for beginners, like me... March 31 2007
I got this book for my birthday and I didn't even request it, and I must say, it is a GREAT book. I've fallen in love with vietnamese food, through pho and bun and banh mi, and this book contains all those recipes and more. It explains the history on this whole culinary world, and has detailed descriptions and pictures to help you identify ingredients and understand them. That way, you can go shopping with a little bit more ease and you'll have the vietnamese names available when you need the help. I was able to get the ingredients I needed when the shop lady couldn't understand what I wanted since I wrote the vietnamese names (accents and everything)of them and I just showed them to her. There are also tips and notes on techniques and substitutions. There is also explanations on how to eat and live this different culinary experience. I learned a ton of stuff. And everything is so easy and fresh, it's really nice and fun to do something new and not have to go to a restaurant for it. There's even a section on vietnamese charcuteries (cold cuts, if you will) so that you can make your own banh mi ! So if you love vietnamese food or are just curious, and you need something that will walk you through it and not frustrate the heck out of you, I reccommend this book. It should be part of every cookbook library.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I tried a few recipes and they were all exactly as I expected. I am Vietnamese and have found the flavor to be authentic and very delicious. The instructions are detailed, precise and easy to follow. I would have loved to see a picture for each recipe, as noted by other reviewer; but all in all, it's a great book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing and authentic June 27 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am really pleased with everything I have made so far! And my Vietnamese mother in law gave everything a 9/10! Really enjoying it and can't wait to start trying the more difficult recipes!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This one has it all (almost)... May 14 2009
By V
This is a great addition to your cookbook collection.

Loads of great Vietnamese recipes here, MOST have photos to give you an idea of what your finished dish should look like.

My only complaint is that I would have liked to have a photo for every recipe since I've never really cooked much Vietnamese food before.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  75 reviews
177 of 180 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Vietnamese cookbook I have ever seen! Jan. 6 2007
By Jupmeister - Published on
Being a Vietnam-born Vietnamese American, I know and love Vietnamese food. When my family moved to America, it became a struggle to find ingredients and recreate the traditional Vietnamese dishes. Because I learned how to cook in America, I am more used to the American equipment, measurement, ingredients, etc. This is why I have always tried to look for Vietnamese recipes and cookbooks that are written in a way that a Vietnamese American cook like me can understand. This book does just that. Everything is written in clear English, American cookbook style. It gives wonderful instructions on how to prepare dishes, identify and buy ingredients, use equipments, etc. - all tailored to the modern American kitchen. The level of details is simply amazing. However, the taste of the dishes remains authentic Vietnamese. Take a look at any recipe, such as the popular Pho, and you will realize that Andrea Nguyen does not compromise Vietnamese flavors. But she also knows how to guide you, step by step, to achieve that flavor with things you can find in America.

I also find the stories and introductions interesting, and true to Vietnamese traditions. They are similar to the stories I have heard in Vietnam. I have an American husband, and we love to read these stories together, so that he can understand more about Vietnamese society. He also loves the dishes that I have prepared from the cookbook.

This is by far the most comprehensive, well-written, througough, authentic Vietnamese cookbook I have ever seen. If you want to know more about Vietnamese cuisine, it is a must-have!
52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, well-rounded cookbook Dec 18 2006
By Amy Oung - Published on
I own several Vietnamese cookbooks but I must say that this is the most comprehensive and detailed Vietnamese cookbook to date. Ms. Andrea Nguyen ventures into unchartered Vietnamese culinary territory by covering recipes from charcuterie to specialty noodles, and even desserts and pastries (which a lot of Vietnamse cookbooks lack). What is particularly noteworthy is that each recipe is exceptionally detailed and thorough; you can read and imagine yourself performing each particular step with Ms. Nguyen. Another factor that I think sets this book apart from the rest is that this is more conventional and up-to-date, making it feasible for the average American housecook to execute the recipes. What I particularly appreciate are the follow-up notes that Ms. Nguyen adds to the end of most of the recipes which give hints and additional information. But aside from the literal aspect, the major question is: are the recipes delicious? I have to say that, of course, each taste palette is different and seasoning is to one's own but all the recipes that I have tried came out scrumptious and mouth-watering! A must have for anyone who wants to learn Vietnamese cuisine.
48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy This Book Today! June 16 2007
By Candace K. Grover - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I bought this book a few weeks ago and just cannot put it down. I think I will be cooking my way through it this summer. Vietnamese food is so perfect with hot sticky weather. The flavors are light and bright and savoury.

This is an excellent book for novice cooks as well as experienced cooks. If you have never tried making Vietnamese food at home it is the first Vietnamese cookbook you should own. It is clear and concise. I love that it has a glossary with how to pronounce the ingredient correctly, that makes shopping a whole lot easier. I was really pleased to find a chapter on Charcuterie. In a Vietnamese/Asian grocery you will see these foil wrapped frozen rolls and know that they are used in Pho or Bahm Mi but they are hard to interpret. Now I can make my own.

Some highlights so far have been the incredible corn and coconut fritters, I made a quadruple batch for a party 2 weeks ago and guests were gobbling them up as quickly as I could get them out of the skillet. The shrimp toasts are lighter and crisper than restaurant versions, I made the cucumber and shrimp salad on Thursday evening. The veggies in it are still crisp and when I had more for lunch today the flavors were even better. The Cha Gio I made for the same party disappeared quickly, you just cannot have too many of those things and make a bunch and freeze some to have on hand later. I love stuffed squid and her tip about piercing the tail end with a skewer as a steam vent took all of the frustration of trying to keep the filling in the squid body. Next on my list is her deviled crab. I've not had the book long and pages are already getting spatters. If you are a fan of Asian cooking your cookbook collection is sadly lacking if you don't have this book.
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for beginners. Comprehensive & detailed. Nov. 4 2007
By OnlineShopaholic - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is great for beginners because it's very detailed and comprehensive. It has informative background information about Vietnamese culinary culture. Other Vietnamese cookbooks (i.e. Andre Nguyen's "Quick & Easy Vietnamese Home Cooking For Everyone, Diana My Tran's "The Vietnamese Cookbook") are also good for beginners because the recipes have been simplified, but they do not have detailed explanations of the ingredients and they do not include a wealth of information about the Vietnamese cuisine. On the other hand, this book is different because it guides the beginners through everything from selecting the best rice brands to selecting the best fish sauce brands. If you want a good understanding of the Vietnamese cuisine, then this book is a must. Then, you can add other Vietnamese cookbooks to your collection later. The author has a wealth of knowledge about Vietnamese cooking, and she sprinkles her pearls of wisdom throughout this book. If you're serious about cooking Vietnamese food, then you have to buy this book and Mai Pham's "Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table". The reasons I like this book are:

1) "Guide To Ingredients" at the back of the book. The names of the ingredients are both in English & Vietnamese so that you can read labels on jars/bottles/packages that have been written in Vietnamese. Detailed descriptions of all the common ingredients used in Vietnamese cooking are included, including how best to use them and which brands are the best. There is a great section about the difference between rice papers that are made from 100% rice flour and rice papers that are made from a combination of rice flour and tapioca flour. This author tells you which type of rice paper is better...very helpful information. Other Vietnamese cookbooks do not give their readers advice on how to select rice paper, which is an important Vietnamese ingredient. This author knows the difference between yellow rock sugar and white rock sugar, and she makes sure her readers do not make the mistake of buying white rock sugar because they're usually sold side by side on store shelves. Other Vietnamese cookbooks do not take pains to differentiate between these two types of rock sugar; this is important information to have. This author offers so many useful advices such as these. This book has the most detailed and helpful "Guide To Ingredients" of all the Vietnamese cookbooks out there, and I should know because I own several Vietnamese cookbooks.

2) "Note" sections at the end of recipes that give more instructions on how to store food or how to turn the recipe(s) into vegetarian dishes. It also gives advice about how to select, use, and prepare certain ingredients such as chestnuts.

3) This book is beautifully presented in color and is very organized. It's easy to follow and understand. Too bad not every recipe is accompanied by a photograph to encourage readers to try making the recipe, but this is a minor issue, I suppose. I think only 50% of the recipes are accompanied by a photo.

4) Good pork steamed buns recipe ("banh bao").

5) The charcuterie chapter so you can make your favorite Vietnamese cold cuts at home and modify the amount of fat you want in your cold cuts.

If I were you, I would buy this book before buying other Vietnamese cookbooks later on. After buying this book, I would buy Mai Pham's "Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table", which has fantastic and authentic recipes. Even though I'm recommending that you buy this book before buying Mai Pham's "Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table", Mai Pham's "Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table" is still my favorite Vietnamese cookbook on the market today. The recipes in Mai Pham's "Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table" are more authentic because they are based on those of street vendors and home cooks in Vietnam. This book is geared toward the American kitchens and adjustments to the recipes are made accordingly (i.e. ingredient substitutions for convenience). The only reason I'm recommending that you buy this book before buying Mai Pham's "Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table" is that this book has a great "Guide To Ingredients", which all beginners really need. One negative thing about this book is that its binding is not at all durable, and readers will have to baby this book if they want the pages to remain intact.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars good instructions, but bland recipes Feb. 25 2012
By butterflew - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I bought this book based on 4 and 5 stars reviews, so I thought it would be a great cookbook, but it's just so so. I was born and grew up in VN, and my grandma and mom are excellent cooks, so I know how authentic Vietnamese food taste like. A good food blog writer recommended this book, so I expected the recipes to taste good as long as I follow the instructions well. So far all the recipes I've tried tend to be bland, so I recommend adding more fish sauce, sugar, and salt.

The book lays a good foundation for making Vietnamese food, but if I wasn't a native, I would not like the food I made from this book. Therefore, I would not recommend buying this book as a gift for ppl who don't know how to make VN food already.

This book has a very good recipe for making caramel sauce which helps to add a rich brown color to food. Overall, it's an Okay cookbook.
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