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Vietnamese Home Cooking [Anglais] [Relié]

Charles Phan

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When I was a kid, a cook would set up a green canvas army tent behind my family’s general store in Ðà Lat. He made only one dish: crispy egg noodles with seafood. I would go there frequently after school (we lived over the store) while I was waiting for my parents to finish work. I’d sit on a low stool waiting for my order, listening to the sizzle of liquid hitting the hot wok and the monsoon rains battering the tent, the air thick with the smell of browning noodles. It’s one of my first food memories. 
     Vietnam is full of snackers who are never far from a quick bite. Because the country is lacking in entry-level jobs, and because there is a huge market for food cooked outside the home (most home kitchens are poorly equipped or very cramped), people start their own ad hoc businesses, including food stalls. The entrepreneurial spirit drives cooks to the streets, where they master the art of making a single dish: sticky rice, banana fritters, green papaya salad. The cooks employ every technique—deep-frying in jury-rigged pots set over open fires, stir-frying in big woks over high flames, steaming in giant lidded bamboo baskets balanced atop rickety propane burners—to make snacks that are served and eaten on the spot. Even talented home cooks don’t make these dishes at home. Yes, space is at a premium, but an attitude persists too: why try to make something at home that you can so easily and cheaply purchase from someone who has perfected the recipe? Since we don’t have the luxury of  a steamed-bun vendor or stand on every corner here in the United States, making these snacks at home is the  only option.
     Unlike the subsequent chapters in this book, which explain a single technique,  the unifying element of the recipes in  this chapter is that they’re some of the  most popular foods that you’ll find sold  from stalls in cities and small towns  throughout Vietnam.
     Street food offers a direct connection between the cook and the eater. Part of what makes the food so appealing is that it’s superfresh. You’re literally watching the dishes being made, start to finish, in front of your eyes. It is Vietnam’s answer to fast food, only it is far more interesting, varied, and well prepared.
     Unlike a full-service restaurant, street vendors usually make only one or two items. That means they’ve spent their entire careers perfecting their recipe, customizing their equipment, sourcing  the best ingredients. After trying an excellent bite from a vendor, I’ve often asked for the recipe. Not a single cook  has ever given me one. The recipe, and  the practiced technique, is as much a commodity as the food they’re selling you.
     The three common denominators that help identify the best vendors: they’re usually stationary, serve a single dish or one ingredient prepared in a few different ways, and they’re always crowded.
     In Vietnam, the foods you buy from street vendors aren’t categorized as hors d’oeuvres, appetizers, or main courses, though some items are traditionally served at certain times of the day. Rice porridge (page 20) and soup are found in the morning and are rarely eaten after lunch. Sweets stalls might open for only a few hours each evening. A soup vendor might pop up for a few hours during the morning commute, then pack up until the next day.
     We serve many of the recipes in this chapter at The Slanted Door, where they’re some of the most popular items  on the menu. Those favored Vietnamese street foods inspired the first dishes we served when we opened in 1995, and they have remained on the menu ever since. Some, like the fresh spring rolls (page 44), are easy. Others, like the filled rice-paper packets called (page 62), require some practice to perfect. As the Vietnamese vendors know well, mastery comes only from repetition. I think you’ll find the flavors so compelling that the labor will be worth it. Once you get the hang of a few of these recipes, you’ll probably find yourself making them a lot. Without the chaos, the heat, and the noise, it’ll never be exactly like eating on the streets of Vietnam, but the food will still be delicious. 
 
Pickled Carrots

These quick pickles are the perfect foil for rich foods. They are often served alongside fried things and are always piled on top of meat-filled bánh mì sandwiches. If you like, use julienned daikon (see page 204) in addition to carrots.
 
 
•  ¼ cup distilled white vinegar 
•  ¼ cup sugar
•  ¼ teaspoon kosher salt 
•  ½ cup peeled and finely julienned carrots
 
 
Makes ½ cup
 
In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt and stir until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Add the carrots and let stand for at least 20 minutes before serving. If not using right away, cover and refrigerate for up to a week. Drain the carrots well before before using.

Revue de presse

Winner, IACP Awards 2013-Chefs and Restaurants
 
Charles Phan’s Vietnamese Home Cooking captures the very heart of Vietnamese food: fresh, pure, full of life, and vibrant with flavor. His beautiful pictures, stories, and recipes make it completely irresistible.
—Alice Waters, chef, author, and proprietor of Chez Panisse
 
The great appeal of Charles Phan’s cooking at The Slanted Door has always been its vivid purity of flavor. It isn’t necessarily simple food, but there’s not a soupçon of trickery or gratuitous filigree involved. In his long-awaited, warmly written first cookbook, Phan reveals the secrets of his approach to the great and varied food of his native Vietnam.
—Colman Andrews, editorial director of TheDailyMeal.com
 
A truly magical and illuminating journey into the cooking of Vietnam, with recipes so thoroughly brilliant they will not only allow you to better understand the cuisine of that country, but they will also make you a better cook, Asian or otherwise.
—James Oseland, editor-in-chief of Saveur,  author of Cradle of Flavor
 
Like the best cooking is, Charles Phan’s food is deceivingly complex. With this book, Charles shows you how to unravel that code and make delicious Vietnamese food at home.
—David Chang, chef/owner of Momofuku

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Amazon.com: 4.5 étoiles sur 5  77 commentaires
82 internautes sur 85 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A marvellous, deep cookbook for anyone 7 octobre 2012
Par Stephen Foster - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
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.
53 internautes sur 55 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A wealth of information in this great Vietnamese cookbook 9 octobre 2012
Par I Do The Speed Limit - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
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.
128 internautes sur 145 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 I wish it were more Vietnamese 22 décembre 2012
Par M. Pham - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
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 internautes sur 45 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
1.0 étoiles sur 5 Very disappoiting 31 janvier 2013
Par John - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
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 internautes sur 26 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Vietnamese Home Cooking 2 octobre 2012
Par Suzanne Tran - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
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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