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Vietnamese Home Cooking [Hardcover]

Charles Phan
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

20 Oct 2012
In his eagerly awaited first cookbook, award-winning chef Charles Phan from San Francisco's Slanted Door restaurant introduces traditional Vietnamese cooking to home cooks by focusing on fundamental techniques and ingredients.

When Charles Phan opened his now- legendary restaurant, The Slanted Door, in 1995, he introduced American diners to a new world of Vietnamese food: robustly flavored, subtly nuanced, authentic yet influenced by local ingredients, and, ultimately, entirely approachable. In this same spirit of tradition and innovation, Phan presents a landmark collection based on the premise that with an understanding of its central techniques and fundamental ingredients, Vietnamese home cooking can be as attainable and understandable as American, French, or Italian. 

With solid instruction and encouraging guidance, perfectly crispy imperial rolls, tender steamed dumplings, delicately flavored whole fish, and meaty lemongrass beef stew are all deliciously close at hand. Abundant photography detailing techniques and equipment, and vibrant shots taken on location in Vietnam, make for equal parts elucidation and inspiration. And with master recipes for stocks and sauces, a photographic guide to ingredients, and tips on choosing a wok and seasoning a clay pot, this definitive reference will finally secure Vietnamese food in the home cook’s repertoire.

Infused with the author’s stories and experiences, from his early days as a refugee to his current culinary success— Vietnamese Home Cooking is a personal and accessible guide to real Vietnamese cuisine from one of its leading voices.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press; 1 edition (20 Oct 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1607740532
  • ISBN-13: 978-1607740537
  • Product Dimensions: 26.7 x 22.1 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 255,133 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic 4 April 2013
Format:Hardcover
Beautifully written, with lots of tips and detail and lovely photography. The quantities are in US form, easyish to translate, but other than that, it's great. The pics remind me of my trip to Vietnam last year, brings back so many memories :-)
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jummy book 21 Feb 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I just love the book. It is like tasting the real thing, very easy to use, he shows you how to cook real Vietnsmise food.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  70 reviews
71 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A marvellous, deep cookbook for anyone 7 Oct 2012
By Stephen Foster - Published on Amazon.com
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.
50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wealth of information in this great Vietnamese cookbook 9 Oct 2012
By I Do The Speed Limit - Published on Amazon.com
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.
110 of 123 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I wish it were more Vietnamese 22 Dec 2012
By M. Pham - Published on Amazon.com
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.
38 of 44 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very disappoiting 31 Jan 2013
By John - Published on Amazon.com
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.
21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vietnamese Home Cooking 2 Oct 2012
By Suzanne Tran - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I just purchased the book from the bookstore and loving it. I'm Vietnamese and after looking through the book I knew I need to buy it. I cooked Pho (beef noodle soup) and spring rolls from the book and it was very tasty. Can't wait to cook my way through this wonderful book. Thank you Mr. Phan!!

updated 10/2 I just cooked banh xeo (crepe with pork and shrimp), another tasty dish. I need to go shop for ingredients to cook the meatballs for banh mi (Sandwich filled with meat, pickled veggies).
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