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70 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally! Authentic Vietnamese Food
As a Vietnamese person, I can honestly say that this is the most authentic collection of Vietnamese recipes I've ever come across. So far, all of the dishes have turned out really well, and many of them taste just like my mum's cooking. The clay pot dishes, such as braised fish, and the soups, are particularly good. The recipes for spring rolls include a very...
Published on 2 Feb 2004

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8 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not for me
I've made perhaps 10 of the recipes. I am not vietnamese but specialize in thai & indian cooking and take a very methodical approach. Overall there are good ideas/recipes but here are some examples of things which displease me:

1. SE Asian food uses lots of lime (sour), fish sauce (salt) and sugar (sweet). The problem is that each lime has different sourness,...
Published on 10 Oct 2010 by A. Boby


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70 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally! Authentic Vietnamese Food, 2 Feb 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table (Hardcover)
As a Vietnamese person, I can honestly say that this is the most authentic collection of Vietnamese recipes I've ever come across. So far, all of the dishes have turned out really well, and many of them taste just like my mum's cooking. The clay pot dishes, such as braised fish, and the soups, are particularly good. The recipes for spring rolls include a very flavourful filling. Moreover, the author manages to get the balance of salty and sweet right, which is essential in Vietnamese cooking. Her dipping sauces, such as nuoc cham, are just the right balance of flavours that you would find in Vietnam.
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53 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You need this book., 13 Feb 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table (Hardcover)
If you don't already have it or you aren't already adept at Vietnamese cookery you need to buy it today. Since my trip to Vietnam last year I have been searching for a book which would give me a guide to the authentic flavours of the country. This book does. And it will do it for you too. Never been? On glancing through the beautiful photos of Vietnamese dishes balanced with black and white photography of the nations people you'll want too. But you don't have to, just buy the book, cook the food, turn up the central heating and look at the pictures, it's just like being there.
There aren't many books that have such an effect but Mai Pham has done it brilliantly and my hat is off to her. I have learnt a great deal about cooking in general from this book as well as the ingredients and techniques of Vietnamese cuisine.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bring Vietnam to your kitchen!, 11 April 2010
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This review is from: Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table (Hardcover)
Other than echoing the other reviews this book is simply fantastic. I travelled Vietnam for 3 weeks in 2008 and missed the food, with its strong flavours and wonderful use of fresh herbs, so i was dead pleased when i first tried the results of these recipes!

I have made about 6 different meals and several sauces from this and have yet to try the Pho but i look forward to making something from this every time as the flavours taste so authentic. Yes, the recipes will probably require a trip to your local asian food store and the prep time can be lengthy but then i doubt you will be cooking it every night! But make no mistake it is always worth it.

Basically it's a must for anyone looking to cook decent Vietnamese meals in a Western kitchen.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars wonderful food, 27 Jun 2010
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This review is from: Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table (Hardcover)
This book is not just recipes but a pleasure to read as well. The recipes and explanations make for a very pleasing meal. I am unable at present to get some of the ingredients but hope to remedy this soon and the author does give alternative ideas. Excellent
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Practical but heartfelt, easy but comprehensive, 14 Dec 2010
By 
Philmore East (Prague, Czech Republic) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table (Hardcover)
Very good beginner's book for vietnamese cuisine. While not as 'literary' as for instance Alford & Duguid, the author nevertheless lets her emotions flow and the accompanying text makes this more than a dry set of recipes.
The recipes are quite easy to make and still not dumbed down, I think the mix of practicality vs. authenticity is quite OK. If you're a beginner in vietnamese cuisine this will be a good, useful start-up book; if you're more experienced you will enjoy the little variations (everybody has their own recipe for pho or nuoc cham :-)
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly regarded, 27 April 2012
By 
I. Darren (Fi) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table (Hardcover)
To many people all Asian food is broadly the same with, if one is lucky, them managing to separate Indian-styled and Chinese-styled food from the "Asian Food" tag. Yet the differences are tremendously wide if one only knows and, of course, many dishes have been localised so even if you have identified and eaten a specific national dish in your own country, it is not necessarily an authentic dish.
At least this book will set you right and also let you make your own authentic dishes in the comfort of your own home. Vietnamese food, an often forgotten genre of Asian cuisine, naturally shares a broad commonality with other Asiatic cuisines but once you drill down to the core it is clear that there is a variety of regional differences and styles.
Through the author, one is transported to Vietnam to enjoy a guided culinary tour of various market kitchens, street cafes and homes and given the opportunity to learn about the distinctive flavours and types of authentic Vietnamese food. First of all one is given an introduction to the basics and history of Vietnamese cuisine such as special ingredients, cooking techniques and traditional cooking utensils. Intwined with the hard facts are a range of reminiscences from the author and her family and stories and folklore from around the country.
Many elements are often combined to produce a dish so an element of harmony and complimentary association is required. One gains an insight into the range of various dipping sauces which are commonplace along with accompaniments and herbs. For example not all Soy sauces are the same and one begins to appreciate the often subtle differences that can exist and see how they can affect a particular dish.
Separate chapters exist covering the entire gamut of dishes from salads and savouries, sweets, meat dishes, items suitable for vegetarians and even drinks. All recipes are detailed and relatively easy-to-follow once you have mastered the basics and gained confidence. This is much more than just a recipe book as it feels like a hybrid between a journal, travel book and the inner-most secrets of a top chef.
The book, despite being published a long time ago, is still highly regarded and remains in demand with a price tag to match. It would be nice to see a more up-to-date version, if only for the useful resource guide at the back being quite of out date and the addition of even more colour pictures to help guide the unwary and boost their confidence. But don't let those minor points for one second change the highly positive view towards this book.
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8 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not for me, 10 Oct 2010
By 
A. Boby (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table (Hardcover)
I've made perhaps 10 of the recipes. I am not vietnamese but specialize in thai & indian cooking and take a very methodical approach. Overall there are good ideas/recipes but here are some examples of things which displease me:

1. SE Asian food uses lots of lime (sour), fish sauce (salt) and sugar (sweet). The problem is that each lime has different sourness, each brand of fish sauce different saltiness and different types of sugar have different sweetness. It is essential if using these ingredients that one develops a palette for identifying balance in seasoning. Recipes should have rough estimates for these types of ingredients but also describe the flavour balance you're shooting for, as you'll notice many other thai & vietnamese authors do. She doesn't do this.

2. Pho Bo (pg. 54) has FAR too much sugar. A competing author who blogs at vietworldkitchen.com has a very similar recipe but uses 1/3 the amount of sugar.

3. Thit Kho (pg. 150) - I just didn't like this. This is a very traditional recipe usually made with slowly braised pork belly and hard boiled eggs. I would have liked it if she would have at least mentioned the traditional recipe as a variation.

4. She emphasizes that fermented black beans and fermented soy beans are not the same thing, which is confusing at best. Chinese fermented/salted black beans (douchi) are soy beans which turn black after they ferment, hence "black beans" are the same thing as fermented soybeans. Additionally, she has the vietnamese name "tuong hot" next to the fermented soybeans, but google strongly indicates that "tuong ot" is srirachi sauce.

5. I'd rather she used the transliterated vietnamese names for fundamental sauces. If you get used to "nuoc cham" rather than "vietnamese dipping sauce", you'll have an easier time understanding other vietnamese recipes you come across.
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Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table
Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table by Mai Pham (Hardcover - 18 Aug 2001)
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