This arrived yesterday!! It’s one of two early advance copies of The Pho Cookbook that the printer in China sent to Ten Speed Press. Kelly Snowden, my editor, was super kind to FedEx me her copy. I always call the first copy that I receive “Number 1.” This is my fifth book, my fifth "Number 1", and the strange blend of fear and excitement remains. However, this time around, I’m extra proud of the book that we produced.
The Pho Cookbook combines location images shot by food stylist (and my dear friend) Karen Shinto with studio images shot by photojournalist John Lee. The recipe testers were an amazing group of smart, curious home cooks: Diane Carlson, Alex Ciepley, Jay Dietrich, Alyce Gershenson, Doug and Candace Grover, Thien-Kieu Lam, Ari LeVaux, Laura McCarthy, Hugh McElroy, Catherine McGuire, Rosemary Metzger, Alec Mitchell, Josie Nevitt, Jenny Sager, Karen Shinto, Terri Tanaka, Katherine Thome, Maki Tsuzuki, and Dave Weinstein.
Kelly, designer Betsy Stromberg, and I wanted to make the book look distinctive in order to convey a sense of place and to capture the comforting, satisfying, and delicious aspects of pho. We wanted to honor Vietnam's national food.
Also, there were the practical aims of helping cooks successfully figure out how to prepare pho in its various guises. Because I am who I am, there’s a touch of humor too -- pho is a pho-nomenon as well as a phood.
I’ll stop there, for now. Here’s a little peek inside the cookbook’s 160+ pages filled with 50+ versatile recipes.
The book opens with “What is Pho?” -- a pho history section produced from a lot of fun and lengthy research, translation work, and interviews. The image below is from the noteworthy Pho Gia Truyen at 49 Bat Dan in Hanoi’s Old Quarter. I’ve eaten there over the years and it’s always the familiar pots set over blazing flames.
Setting the stage for the recipes is the “Pho Manual” chapter that’s chock full of information on ingredients, equipment, tips and techniques, including how to eat pho. ;-)
The first recipe chapter is “Master Pho”, which walks cooks through many options for preparing pho. Yes, you can fit fabulous pho into your life, even on a weeknight!
There are iconic classics as well as vegetarian and vegan options. Most of the recipes in the book are gluten free and gluten-free adaptable. Measurements are in imperial and metric. No one should be left out of the pho action.
The little things that may be used to customized pho (condiments, dipping sauces, toppings, etc.) are in the “Pho Add-Ons” chapter. Karen shot thousands of images when were in Vietnam in October 2015, and Betsy and I had tough choices to make for layouts like this one:
And since pho has a dual meaning of a noodle soup as well as the flat rice noodles, there are non-soupy pho dishes, as well as newfangled pho that you’ve likely not yet encountered. Pho is constantly evolving because pho cooks are an innovative lot.
There are also recipes for pho sidekicks (snacks, sides and drinks) to help people make an entire amazing feast to celebrate pho.
We sent the book out for review and received this incredible feedback:
“Andrea Nguyen has done the English-speaking world a tremendous favor with this book, the most authoritative guide to pho I've ever seen. It dispels rumors, tells truths, and thoughtfully chronicles Vietnam's rich but underexplored soup culture. Andrea lays out the facts about pho in a way that makes you slurp them down, and then chases the lessons with a stack of recipes that will send you directly to the kitchen. The marriage of purpose and passion that she's brought to this book is a rare thing.”
-- DAVID CHANG, coauthor of Momofuku and cofounder of Lucky Peach
“Andrea Nguyen is the world’s greatest expert in Vietnamese cooking. Her latest book is a stunning and comprehensive guide to pho, that country’s most delicious food. Everything you ever wanted to know about pho is here: how to make it, how to eat it, its history, its regional variations—and so much more. All lovers of Asian food need to own this most extraordinary book.”
-- JAMES OSELAND, author Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore
“Andrea Nguyen is the kind of writer who doesn’t just show you how to follow her recipes, she also teaches you how to be a better cook. This book is a fantastic example. You’ll learn how to make delicious pho while also gaining a whole new sensibility around an unfamiliar pantry. Buy this book. Cook from it. You'll end up a far better cook than you were before.”
-- PIM TECHAMUANVIVIT, chef and proprietor of Kin Khao
Available starting February 7, 2017
wherever books are sold, such as:
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target, Indiebound
Kitchen Arts & Letter (NYC), Book Larder (Seattle) Read It & Eat (Chicago)
Books to Cooks (Melbourne), Barbara Jo’s (Vancouver)
Order signed books at Omnivore Books (SF)
Thanks for your pho enthusiasm and patience.
I hope you enjoy the book as much as I do.