Andrea Nguyen is perhaps America's foremost writer on Vietnamese cooking and the author of numerous highly-praised and practical books, including The Banh Mi Handbook
and The Pho Cookbook.
In Vietnamese Food Any Day
, she offers a flavorful collection of recipes based on the Vietnamese word khéo,
which "means 'smart' and 'adroit,' but when applied to cooking, it conveys food that's been thoughtfully and skillfully prepared with intention and a grounding in the fundamentals." In short, it's easily made with commonly available ingredients; no trips to specialty grocers are required. And if it takes a while to cook, it's probably just because you need to leave it alone in the oven for a while.
Nguyen, like many Vietnamese-Americans, has adapted her cooking to the ingredients and flavors available in this country and there are some inspired hybrids, such as battered and roasted cauliflower florets in the style of chicken wings. In spicy sweet pomegranate tofu, pomegranate molasses stands in for harder-to-find tamarind liquid. Gingery greens and shrimp soup is a great way of making use of potential discards, such as radish tops. And richly sweet Vietnamese coffee turns into a luxurious no-churn ice cream to finish any meal.
If you want the flavors of Vietnam on your family table after a busy day, this is a highly worthwhile book.
Hardcover. Color photographs throughout.