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Vietnamese cooking is simple

Fish Sauce. I don’t have any and that’s exactly why I am missing-out on making some really good tasting meals. With fish sauce and this cookbook, I'm certain I can "Wow" you with dishes you never expect coming from my kitchen!

Book Review: Simply Vietnamese Cooking, 135 Delicious Recipes

By: Nancie McDermott

As a child I remember going out for Chinese food — it was a real treat — sometimes my dad brought it home in those special cartons. But Mom never cooked “Asian” and so neither do I, did I, until a cookbook like Simply Vietnamese cooking by Nancie McDermott lands in my hands.

Vietnam seems faraway and a bit scary until you connect with it’s culture through food. Author Nancie introduces each recipe with personal thoughts and preparation ideas, plus she includes Tips regarding ingredients, variations, how to prepare, what to serve with the dish, substitutions, storage… “Vietnamese Tales” sidebars give us glimpses into the culture, history and lifestyle of Vietnam. I especially appreciated the informational “Glossary of Vietnamese Ingredients” and “Resource Suggestions” (incase you can’t find locally what you need to make your recipe selections). I think you will be surprised by what you can find in your larger grocery store… ask if you don’t see it right away. However, since you are a cookbook person willing to try new recipes, I expect you will also be up for the adventure of seeking out nearby Asian markets — I highly recommend such a diversion from your regular grocery trip.

Fish Sauce. Per the Glossary, “Fish sauce is the quintessential Vietnamese ingredient, used in almost every dish, except sweets.” (p..224) So, what if we focus on incorporating the 17 page “Sauces and Other Basic Recipes” section of this cookbook, into our weekly meal planning/cooking repertoire? We’ll be easily on our way to a whole new dimension of smells and flavors we, as the home cook and others can enjoy right away.

As for which full recipe to try first? I’m going for “Cha Ca Fish with Fresh Dill, Hanoi-Style” (p. 104-5). Yum! The recipe includes a marinade made with our new friend, fish sauce plus turmeric & ginger, and the "Accompaniments” of thin dried rice noodles (which we bought on our field trip) with a double recipe of “Everyday Dipping Sauce” (p. 200), “Pineapple-Chile Sauce” (p. 207) (which we already learned to make and have ingredients in our pantry) plus fresh lime, dill, mint, green onions, peanuts… What’s not to love?

My gratitude to Robert Rose, Inc. for the opportunity to review this cookbook.

See other great cookbooks by this publisher here

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