Vietnamese Food Any Day Cookbook Review
Vietnamese Food Any Day by Andrea Nguyen
I mostly cook at home these days, but when I do eat out I often opt for some sort of Asian cuisine, which seems far too difficult to make at home with satisfying results. I’m happy to say this new book, Vietnamese Food Any Day, has completely changed that. Not only have I made dishes in my own kitchen with flavors to rival the Vietnamese food I’ve had in restaurants, but Andrea Nguyen has also successfully removed the intimidation factor of tackling Vietnamese cuisine at home: she has written recipes with ingredients you can commonly find in the supermarket, with tools you have in your own kitchen, and is thoughtful about the limited time you have to devote to a dish (employing the help of a pressure cooker in some cases—hooray Instant Pot!).
Please note: I received a free promotional copy to review (although, I actually had this book on pre-order before knowing about the freebie). Thanks for the free book Ten Speed Press!
About The Cookbook
Andrea Nguyen is a Santa Cruz, CA based author, who emigrated from Vietnam to Los Angeles In the mid ‘70s. She shares her family’s journey to America highlighting the creative ways the newly arrived immigrants turned supermarket ingredients into recognizable flavors from home. We learn that Viet cooks are naturally inventive, assuring readers that supermarket swaps are in alignment with Viet culture.
Where Andrea Nguyen’s other books have mostly been deep dives into particular aspects of Viet cuisine (dumplings, pho, banh mi), this book offers a broad selection of Vietnamese classics, plus many new dishes inspired by Andrea’s experiences. You’ll find recipes for rice paper rolls and other snacks, an assortment of soups including a Smoked Turkey Pho (p. 84), various rice and noodle dishes including popular Rice Noodle Bowls (p. 197), the basics components of Bánh Mi (p. 62), plus a wide selection of vegetable sides and interesting desserts. She offers all this variety while delivering on the promise to share recipes with ingredients you can buy at your local supermarket, made in a reasonable amount of time.
I made nearly a dozen dishes in a just a couple of days, all were successful thanks to well written instructions, and I especially appreciated the cooking time estimates were accurate, and many quite speedy. A few of my favorite dishes were the Vibrant Turmeric Coconut Rice (p. 188), Shrimp in Coconut Caramel Sauce (p. 107), Super-Simple Overnight Rice Porridge (p. 71), and Rice Noodle Salad Bowl (p.197). Ten Speed Press has graciously shared the recipe for the Shrimp in Coconut Caramel Sauce and No-Churn Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream.
What I Loved About This Book
A broad introduction to the world of of Viet food
Andrea Nguyen is the authority of Vietnamese food, with a library of titles to her name to prove it. Although many of those other books have been in print for years, I believe this is the book to start with. The recipes cover a broad range of dishes, from pho to banh mi—you’ll find all the popular dishes you might have tried at a Vietnamese restaurant and want to replicate at home, plus many more.
Additionally, Andrea offers notes with nearly every recipe. I found them particularly interesting, offering substitution ideas, information on shopping for ingredients, make ahead tips, plus tidbits about Vietnamese culture and cuisine. I learned why its more than okay to refer to it at “Viet” Cuisine, as well as how to put together a typical Vietnamese meal. This book is a great jumping off point to begin exploring Vietnamese cuisine.
The big success of this book is that you can actually cook from it. Following the same ingenuity her parents employed when faced with unfamiliar ingredients in America, Andrea has completely removed the intimidation factor of tackling a new cuisine by designing all recipes to be made with ingredients you can commonly find in your local supermarket. This is how the Mediterranean pomegranate syrup becomes a stand in for the more difficult to find tamarind paste (although directions are also provided if you do have that available to you.)
I have to point out the gorgeous photography by Aubrie Pick. She’s photographed other bestselling cookbooks like Chrissy Tiegan’s Cravings and Cravings: Hungry for more, as well as paleo-author Danielle Walker’s recent Eat What You Love. Photos accompany most recipes, and will invoke hunger.
(Side-note: A couple years ago I sat with Aubrey at a brand event for Noosa yogurt hosted at the gorgeous Lord Stanley restaurant in San Francisco. Not only is she an extremely talented photographer but she’s incredibly nice, which makes me doubly happy to support her work.)
Who should buy the Vietnamese Food Any Day cookbook?
You’d like to explore new flavors but have shied away from cooking new cuisines in the past because of your discomfort with unfamiliar ingredients. Vietnamese Food Any Day eliminates the intimidation factor.
Your looking for a broad introduction to Vietnamese culture and cooking.
You want to add new dishes to your cooking repertoire and need practical, time-friendly recipes.
You want to join a cookbook club? Vietnamese Food Any Day is one of the the March 2019 cookbook selections for the Tasting Table Cookbook Club.