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Vietnamese Home Cooking Hardcover – Sep 25 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press; 1 edition (Sept. 25 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1607740532
  • ISBN-13: 978-1607740537
  • Product Dimensions: 22.3 x 2.9 x 27.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #53,395 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


Winner, IACP Awards 2013-Chefs and Restaurants
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
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

About the Author

Charles Phan is the executive chef and owner of The Slanted Door family of restaurants. He received the James Beard Award for Best Chef California in 2004, and in 2011 was inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s list of Who’s Who of Food in America. He lives in San Francisco with his wife and their three children.

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Alex on Jan. 2 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After seeing that the one and only review on this book contained no comments on the "cooking", I felt compelled to write this review. I am not Vietnamese, but I've have had a love for Vietnamese cuisine since tasting my first nem at age 8. Hmm I can still remember it. I have a few well-worn Vietnamese cookbooks (Into the Vietnamese Table, Pleasures of the Vietnamese Kitchen). This one stands alone. Some of the recipes may seem complicated, but Phan does more than just give you a series of recipes (as other books often do), he gives you a method and he explains to you what the ingredients are meant to do. For instance, I wanted to make the daikon rice cake (it was amazing), but did not have the preserved turnips the recipe called for. Phan however had explained that the turnips were meant to provide saltiness so I used the kimchi I had instead. It worked beautifully. After making some of the recipes in this book, I truly feel that I have a better understanding of Vietnamese cooking.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By JessicaT on Nov. 23 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I found this in the reception area of a guest house we stayed at in Vietnam recently. It was a small place on a rather remote beach oh Phu Quoc and they did a lot of 'home cooked' meals at their kitchen rather than the standard 'restaurant' fare. Not to say that I don't love Vietnamese restaurant food, but this was a really nice change.
Very little of the recipes in this book are the kind that you might find on the street, because as he says, these are not what people make at home. This is about what he makes in his home. And yes, as someone else mentioned, it does have a Chinese influence for some of them because that is his family heritage. But come on, it's great. The recipes are useful, and doable, in any kitchen.
There are quite a few recipes here that are going to become staples in my house and I think it's a great introduction to Vietnamese cooking even if you've never been (but go if you can!)
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By Leah Maclellan on Aug. 15 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Perfect everything I wanted to know about sandwiches
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1 of 82 people found the following review helpful By MN on Oct. 11 2012
Format: Hardcover
Alright, I understand that you may not want to burn all bridges as you might expand your restaurants to Vietnam so you have to pander to the Communist rulers there, but to say "the fall of Ho Chi Minh City" is just pure stupid. Even in Vietnam, the Communists call it the fall of Saigon! Why? Because the name Ho Chi Minh City didn't exist at the time. The city that collapsed when North Vietnam won the War was Saigon, not Ho Chi Minh City.
It is rather pathetic that you are indifferent, or worse, ignorant of the historical event that I am sure changed yours and your family's life.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 98 reviews
100 of 105 people found the following review helpful
A marvellous, deep cookbook for anyone Oct. 6 2012
By Stephen Foster - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I very rarely leave 5-star 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.
68 of 71 people found the following review helpful
A wealth of information in this great Vietnamese cookbook Oct. 9 2012
By I Do the Speed Limit - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you feel a bit overwhelmed when you venture into an Asian market and would like to change that feeling, this book will be immensely helpful to you. The book is overflowing with information, and I love a cookbook written to include such helpful insight, instruction and coaching.

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. And I'm here to say he taught me quite a lot; and thank you so much! This cookbook is not only filled with wonderful, enticing, not overwhelming recipes; it is filled with information. You will get helpful and unbiased wisdom on: Woks, ceramic pots, cleavers, grills, how to choose condiments and important ingredients, and much more.

If you are considering this cookbook and live out in the middle of nowhere, with no access to an Asian market, you may want to check this out of your library before purchase.

The recipes are divided between techniques: Steaming, frying, braising, grilling, and stir-frying; plus soup and street food. There are recipes for condiments, dipping sauces and a few pickles.

Personally, I now have precise times for steaming my whole fish; assurance that I'm grilling my whole fish in the best way possible; I have great fillings for steamed buns; I know how to prime my wok properly and for how long to let the oil heat up before adding food; I know the importance of caramel sauce, and much, much more. I've always loved a broth-y fish soup and now I have a beautiful and simple recipe using a whole fish--and I already know I will turn to it often. Because I personally zone in on whole fish in this paragraph, don't let me mislead you into thinking this is a seafood cookbook; it's really encompassing and covers beef, pork, other seafood, rice, noodles and veggies.

It's got beautiful pictures; easy-to-read and easy-to-understand ingredient lists and concise directions; a terrific glossary; an adequate index, plus it is a bound, hard-covered book, with pages made of quality paper.

The author mentions his family and his restaurants frequently, but those mentions don't seem overpowering, they just add to the charm of the writing.

Not that I'm ready to compare it with other Asian cookbooks, I can already say that this is more of a hands-on, take-it-and-cook-with-it book, than "Beyond the Great Wall" and "Hot Sour Salty Sweet' by Alford and Duguid. (While I love those two, they slant more towards coupling recipes with an area and therefore seem a bit travel-related and coffee-table style).

I'm very glad to have purchased this cookbook.
164 of 185 people found the following review helpful
I wish it were more Vietnamese Dec 21 2012
By M. Pham - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a Vietnamese-American cook, 2nd generation Vietnamese, and American food writer based in Houston, I had high hopes for this cookbook. I was hoping for a collection of recipes about the dishes I grew up eating, the dishes from the streets of Vietnam, and it succeeds on certain levels.

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. And while I find many of the Cantonese recipes useful, I just wish there were more Vietnamese recipes in this book. I would have loved a good recipe for "Cha Ca Thang Long," (classic Northern Vietnamese fish dish), or "Pho Ap Chao" (Pan fried pho noodles), or "Suon ram" (caramelized pork spareribs), or "Bun rieu" (Rice vermicelli soup with tomato and crab) -- dishes you might find if you sat down for a typical Vietnamese family meal.

I don't want to make it sound like there aren't Vietnamese recipes. The must-not-miss ones are there: Pho, Banh Mi, Bun Bo Hue, Bo Luc Lac, Suon Nuong (He calls them Grilled Pork Chops), Cha Gio (Imperial Rolls), Banh Tom (Sweet potato and shrimp fritters), Tom Rim (Caramalized lemongrass shrimp), etc -- and if you're a fan of the Slanted Door, he has some of his signature dishes broken down for you to try at home, as well.
49 of 59 people found the following review helpful
Very disappoiting Jan. 30 2013
By John - Published on
Format: Hardcover
First of all, we love the Slanted Door and we love to cook. But the recipes just don't work. Several examples. He disdains canned broth, but the broth done according to his recipes have no taste. He recommends cooking brisket for 45 minutes (and then putting it into ice water). Brisket demands long cooking, so following his recipe you get tough brisket. On one of his salads, his instructions for slicing the vegetables made no sense. The instructions didn't do what the photos showed. His instructions for preparing tofu for deep-frying are wrong, and the deep-frying times for the tofu are way too long. And so on.

So here is this great cook whose work in his restaurant we love, and whose recipes we hate. They just don't work. Just a theory. It's hard to scale restaurant menus down to family size. Could be the problem. Maybe nobody tested the menus in the book (hard to imagine that anyone did, given our experience).

I feel bad about writing this very negative review because we've enjoyed his dishes at the restaurant. But, sadly, the book isn't up to the quality of the restuarant, not even close.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Disappointment - Incomplete portrayal of Vietnamese cuisine May 30 2013
By An-Khanh B. Nguyen - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have to agree with the reviewer named M.Pham and his/her wish that the book could be more Vietnamese. While I was very excited to order the book on Amazon and counted down till the day I received the parcel at my door, I was a little disappointed reading the book. Despite nice pictures and easy-to-follow recipes, Charles did not fulfill his mission to portray authentic Vietnamese cuisine, not to mention the regional distinct of Vietnamese food.

I was born and grew up in Hanoi, spending 20 years in Vietnam before going overseas to study and work. I always try to experience Vietnamese food in different countries I have the chance to travel too. And my overall impression is, most Westerners and Americans get to know mainly the Southern Vietnamese food, since most Vietnamese expats are originally from the South - they evacuated from Vietnam after the North won the civil war in 1975. But Vietnamese cuisine is really much more than just a few Southern dishes and some Chinese influenced recipes. And Charles did not explore those still covered aspects well enough.

I understand given his Chinese origin, it makes perfect sense for him to include the Cantonese version of his home food in the book. But it surprised me that he did not take the opportunity to introduce to the international audience the less popular but yet real authentic and good Vietnamese dishes. He also did not distinguish the popular Southern food with the food in the North (most famous in Hanoi, with an interesting twist of French cuisine) and the Central (most notably Hue, an imperial city with special dishes of its own). That was just a pity in my opinion, because Vietnamese cuisine is never complete without the unique taste of all regions, namely Northern, Central and Southern Vietnam.

Other readers may find my review a little harsh, but I would like to make my point clearly that, we already have plenty of cookbooks on Vietnamese food, with rather Western-adapted recipes. What we need now, is an authentic portrayal of the national cuisine, something I do not think Charles Phan managed to achieve in his work here.