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Viet Cookbooks in English

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into the vietnamese kitchen

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Classing Cuisine of Vietnam

Vietnamese Dishes

Vietnamese Cookery

 


I've been collecting Vietnamese cookbooks for decades. They record social history in intrigueing and digestible ways. That's why I've got titles in both written in English and Vietnamese. Below is a listing of English-language titles on my shelf, as well as some that I've yet to own. Most of the books below may be purchased through regular bookstores. To shop online, the titles below are linked their respective pages at Amazon.com. Another source is ecookbooks.com. For out-of-print or rare books, consider:

Into the Vietnamese Kitchen: Treasured Foodways, Modern Flavors (2006)
Andrea Nguyen
My labor of love for several years, this is a collection of 175+ recipes that pays homage to old-fashioned methods and classic Viet dishes yet provides readers with instructions on how to prepare the delectable foods in a modern kitchen. Recipes cover the broad spectrum of foods, from the super simple (just a few ingredients needed) to more elaborate time-honored treats like banh chung, Tet sticky rice cakes, and banh nuong, moon cakes. For more details on my book, check this page.

The Little Saigon Cookbook: Vietnamese Cuisine and Culture in Southern California's Little Saigon (2006)
Ann Le
Here's a book that covers Viet cooking as it is presented in Little Saigon, the largest Vietnamese American enclave located in Westminster, California. A southern California resident, Ann works in the finance industry and has put lots of heart into this work in order to represent her community well. The use of olive oil in the some of the recipes, however, is a bit odd.

Quick & Easy Vietnamese: 75 Everyday Recipes (2005)
Nancie McDermott
This is part of publisher Chronicle Books' series of quick and easy ethnic cookbooks. The books are not designed to be in-depth or comprehensive, but Nancie is a veteran writer and you're in good hands. Her first work, Real Thai (1992), an amazing book regional Thai cookbook that I still cook from.

A Vietnamese Kitchen: Treasured Family Recipes (2005)
Ha Roda
Like Ann Le's book above, this one presents Viet food as it is prepared in the Vietnamese immigrant kitchen in America. Ha Roda is a media arts professional based in Los Angeles. She's not a professional food writer, but if you're familiar with Viet cooking or are a seasoned cook, you can follow her recipes. However, the use bouillon cubes, prepackaged seasoning mixes, and Kitchen Bouquet are rather disappointing, though a fair number of Viet American cooks use those prepackaged ingredients. Hippocrene Books, the publisher, should have spent more on photography. The black and white images are unattractive.

Didier Corlou's Vietnamese Cuisine (2003)
Didier Corlou
French chef Corlou's cookbook contains gorgeous photography from Vietnam, where he is based as key staff person of the Sofitel hotels. He was formerly the executive chef at the Metropole in Hanoi. Corlou has an unending passion for Vietnamese cooking (he's married to a Viet woman), and the book offers traditional as well as modern recipes that he developed. The recipe instructions are not in depth and somewhat hard to follow. However, it's a sophistated, lovely work. Pick up a copy at the Metropole in Hanoi. This book isn't available online.

Vietnamese Home Cooking (2003)
Robert Carmack, Didier Corlou, Nguyen Thanh Van
A title in Periplus series on Asian home cooking, this work comes from professional cooks based in Vietnam at the Hanoi Metropole Hotel. Carmack is the professional writer. Beautiful photography, but the ingredients and instructions aren't easily adapted to the American home kitchen. If you're a seasoned Asian cook, this title is worth having.

The Vietnamese Cookbook (2003)
Diana Tran

A nice small book written by a Vietnamese-American career woman who offers her contemporary, time-saving approaches to putting Viet favorites on the table for her family. The instructions can be breezy so beginner cooks may have a hard time.

Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table (2001)
Mai Pham
This second work from Mai Pham, a restauranteur in Sacramento, CA, was very well received by both the Los Angeles Times and New York Times. The recipes were developed from her travels and research in Vietnam. She gathered recipes and flavors from street-food hawkers and Viet home cooks. The instructions are well written and as usual, Pham knows her stuff. For those who've traveled to Vietnam, this may be a great book to remind them of their eating adventures. It doesn't mirror food from Viet-American kitchens, and that's not its objective. For overseas Vietnamese, this book offers great information on how food and culture are evolving in Vietnam. There's a nice discussion on herbs and ingredients.
Go to Pham's first book, The Best of Vietnamese and Thai Cooking or check her out at www.lemongrassrestaurant.com

Authentic Vietnamese Cooking: Food from a Family Table (1999)
Corinne Trang
Not particularly authentic, as the name suggests. The author is Cambodian Chinese French, not Vietnamese. A lot of work went into this book, and Trang is a capable recipe writer, having worked in the test kitchen at Saveur magazine. Nonetheless, you come away wondering about how to best define authenticity. It's difficult to understand who the author is. It made me want Trang to pen a book on her experiences growing up in France and eating/preparing ethnic Chinese-Southeast Asian food there.

Cafe Vietnam (1999)
Annabel Jackson
A nice little paperback with cool photos. The recipes are based on foods prepared in Vietnam, not what's cooked in America. As a result, the ingredients, flavors, etc. are not what you may expect or may have experienced in Vietnamese American homes, restaurants and delis. This work is part of the Conran Octopus 'Café' Cookbook series.

The Food of Vietnam: Authentic Recipes from the Ascending Dragon (1997)
Trieu Thi Choi, Marcel Isaak
Based on 'old world' recipes from a Vietnam-based chef, this book is best understood and used by people who are familiar with traditional Vietnamese cooking. Some of the ingredients, such as pork fatback, would put health-conscious cooks off. Sometimes the proportions for seasoning are heavy handed. My mother likes the recipes because the Vietnamese author "speaks" to her. However, when Mom tried out one of the recipes, she cut out the fat and halved the seasonings. There's a nice history section in this book about traditional foodways. This work is part of a Periplus series of ethnic cookbooks.

The Best of Vietnamese and Thai Cooking (1996)
Mai Pham
Mai Pham owns Lemongrass restaurant in Sacramento, which offers diners Thai and Vietnamese food. She's a competent cook who also does her research. This is a nice book with traditional recipes. However, the inclusion of Thai recipes sort of makes things confusing.

The Flavours of Vietnam (1995, 2002)
Meera Freeman, Le Van Nhan
From Australia comes this work by professional cookbook writer Freeman and restaurant chef Le. There's little cultural information on the recipes, and the measurements are in metric. However, if you're familiar with Viet cooking, this work is worth exploring.

The Simple Art of Vietnamese Cooking (1991)
Binh Duong, Marcia Kiesel

Out of print but worth having on hand for the recipes, which blends traditional Viet methods with a skilled restauranteur's modern cooking knowledge. Read the instructions carefully to make sure everything makes sense. No photos unfortunately.

The Foods of Vietnam (1989 and 1999)
Nicole Routhier
One the first Vietnamese cookbooks in the U.S. Nicole Routhier is Vietnamese French and was raised in Vietnam and Laos. New York Times food writer Craig Claiborne wrote the foreword. One of the oddities of this book is the use of olive oil as an ingredient. Cream is suggested as a substitute for coconut milk. Perhaps because Routhier wrote the book in the 80s, when Asian ingredients were not easily available. Reprinted in 1999 with a new cover, it stands out in terms of beautiful photography.

Living and Cooking Vietnamese: An American Woman's Experience (1990)
Paula Tran
For an interesting perspective, try this book of 80 recipes written by an American woman who married a Vietnamese man.

Cooking the Vietnamese Way (1985)
Chi Nguyen, Judy Monroe

A very small collection of 24 recipes comprise this title.

The Classic Cuisine of Vietnam (1979 and 1986)
Bach Ngo, Gloria Zimmerman
Probably the first Vietnamese cookbook printed in America after the mass arrival of refugees. For Vietnamese cooks who came during the first wave, this book will remind them of the initial trials and tribulations of fixing foods of their homeland. Though some of the ingredients have since changed as more authentic ingredients are now available at Asian markets, the basic methods and ideas for preparing Vietnamese food in an American kitchen still apply.

Happy in My Stomach (1975)
Marjorie Doughty
This small spiral bound community cookbook contains recipes of super fresh Viet immigrants to the U.S. who were staying at the Eglin Refugee Reception Center in Florida in the spring and summer of 1975. It's a charming, sweet book that offers hand-drawn illustrations, short pieces on Viet and Chinese customs, along with recipes. If you're a cookbook collector or into tracing the evolution of Viet cooking in the States, this one is a must to have.

Vietnamese Dishes (1973)
Duong Thi Thanh Lien
I found this book in Viet bookstore in San Jose, CA. The author, born in 1933, was a medical doctor and professor of medicine (pretty impressive for a woman at that time!) in Saigon. It is bilingual, with Vietnamese recipes on one page and its English version on the other. Dr. Lien discusses life as during the various foreign occupations of Vietnam during the 20th century. Her writing offers insight into how people cooked and ate in the pre-1975 era of Vietnam. Like Miller's book below, this has significant historic value.

Vietnamese Cookery (1968)
Jill Nhu Huong Miller
Find and buy this book for its historic value. Born in Vietnam, the author was a language instructor for the US Armed Forces. There's a certain Hawaiian touch because that's where the author conceived the book. Only a few recipes have bilingual Vietnamese English titles, requiring a little extra energy to figure out the original Viet equivalent.

Other titles include:

Vietnamese Collection (2002)
Jackum Brown

Lemongrass and Lime: New Vietnam Cooking (2001)
Mark Read

Delightful Vietnamese Cooking (1997)
Eng Tie Ang, Donald R. Bissonnette

Vietnam on a Plate (1996)
Annabel Doling


 

 

 


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Last updated 6/22/07