Lots is going in these days with banh mi book-related activities, cooking classes, and a bathroom remodel. As much as I tried to schedule and pace things in a rational matter, things have been a bit hectic but thrilling nevertheless.
The press for The Banh Mi Handbook has been fabulous as well as unexpected. For example, The Week featured the book in its August 1 issue. I never thought my work would be in a current events publication, not to mention an issue with Vladimir Putin, Rand Paul, and Jay Leno on the cover. Thank you Emily Thelin for the headline: Vietnam's Gift to the Global Lunch Menu.
Similarly, theWireCutter.com, a smart website focused on technology reviews, recommended the book in its weekly round up a couple of weeks ago. A Santa Monica-based culinary club and gourmet food shop asked me to be a guest editor this week; I revealed in The Fare Trade's Q&A tidbits like how I stole tomatoes from neighbor’s gardens for a pickle recipe in the book. I also reveal my favorite Vietnam-inspired happy hour drink. Today, a charming Tumblr called Quinciple described the book as the bible for banh mi.
There was also great press coverage from Joe Yonan, food and travel editor at the Washington Post, who did a riff on my gingery tofu banh mi sliders. The team behind The Splendid Table, a well-respected national public radio program, showcased one of my banh mi recipes its weekly newsletter.
Milwaukee’s award-winning Journal Sentinel interviewed me for their food section and the Calgary Herald tested a recipe for their cookbook review. And I’ve been equally flattered and charmed by notes from friends on social media and reviews at Amazon and elsewhere: lots of people dove into cooking from the book (yeah, the ingredients are readily available) and some perused the book as bedtime reading!
Frank Ball in NY sent this photo of only 2 copies of the book left at a bookstore in Grand Central Terminal. He noted that it's kept its spot on the main display table but lots of copies have been purchased.
Mary Aregoni, owner of Saigon Sisters in Chicago, said that it was selling like hotcakes at her Viet eatery; she went to reorder and was happily surprised that it was on backorder.
So it’s all been really really good. Thanks for letting me share this with you. It’s incredibly rewarding.
On the international food scene, a few interesting developments I read about:
McDonald’s in Japan just introduced tofu shinjo McNuggets – fried fritters made of tofu, fish paste and vegetables. (Trader Joe’s carried a frozen item like this and it was alright tasting.) They’re for the summer season but then came along the chicken and beef meat scandal in China. Perfect timing for a menu change. Slate.com suggested that McDonald’s bring the tofu McNuggets to America.
I like that this isn’t a vegetarian alternative but rather, showcases an Asian approach to cooking tofu: you can mix it with animal protein. It's like Japanese tofu and vegetabe fritters called ganmodoki (see Asian Tofu, page 154 for my recipe) but with a little shinjo fish paste for extra umami goodness.
Holly Harrington, a friend in Taiwan, gave me a heads up on an unusual type of tofu made from edamame. It’s tricky to make because immature soybeans (what edamame is) has less protein and fat than its dried kin. The Taiwanese are looking to further boost their tofu and soy prowess with the edamame tofu. Here’s mention of it in Honolulu back in 2001. Maybe it’s available there still?
Paris Baguette, a popular South Korean chain of bread and pastry shops with locations in Asia just opened up in Paris! Certain French people have been welcoming to the Korean company but how would hardcore people take to the Korean interpretations of breads and sweets? The story was in today’s Wall Street Journal.
Home stoves don’t have the kind of heat output that professional Chinese wok kitchens have. Dennis Reed is fascinated by the WokMon gadget alternative. Kenji at Serious Eats has tried it out. Flames go a leaping but the WokMon representative told Dennis that it’s a safe product. For more, see the WokMon site that’s trying to raise funds for production.
If you’re into cooking classes, shop the Craftsy sale going on this week. Lots of cooking classes are discounted (up to 50% off). Choose from gluten-free baking and cake decorating to Mexican street food, everyday Thai, and the art of stir-frying. A number of my friends and fellow cookbook authors teach these online classes so you’ll be in good hands. If you’re interested in my Viet classics and Asian dumpling classes, they’re going for $19.99 during the sale (ends on Monday night at midnight).
Finally, folks in Seattle and Vancouver – I’ll be in your neck of the woods for banh mi events next month! Registration for a banh mi class at Book Larder (Mon., 9/15) is open. Early next week, tickets for the banh mi social (Wed., 9/17) at Monsoon in Capitol Hill will go on sale. In Vancouver, Barbara-Jo just scheduled me for demo and signing (Fri., 9/19) at her fabulous shop, Books to Cooks; time to be announced soon so check the right-hand sidebar for updated info.
If you have tips or finds to share, don’t be shy about emailing me!