You’re looking at the draft of my sixth cookbook! This week, I sent the manuscript to my editor, Kelly Snowden. Vietnamese Any Day is all about helping American cooks work Viet flavors into their regular rotation.
Many people who are new to Vietnamese food do not know where to begin. They’ve been seduced by the beguiling flavors of grilled lemongrass pork, the handsome healthiness of rice paper rolls, and the warming comforts of pho noodle soup. How can they create those foods and more? Where can they buy the necessary specialty ingredients for such ‘exotic’ dishes?
Ten years ago, I would have nudged them toward finding an Asian market and negotiating foreign food labels and unfamiliar languages. Nowadays, my advice to Vietnamese food novices is this: mine your local grocery stores and specialty retailers. They are well stocked for making good Vietnamese food.
Interestingly, when I speak to advanced-level cooks who are familiar with ingredients and techniques, they also want to know how to make better use of resources nearby. They appreciate Asian markets but don’t always want to negotiate one.
Given that, Vietnamese Any Day won’t require a trip to an Asian market. Yes, you read that right. I’ve been simmering on this concept for years and began seriously working on it soon after we shipped The Pho Cookbook to the printer. That means I’ve been busy since late summer 2016.
The recipes are not dumbed down, but rather liberating, fun, and versatile. They’ll teach you to be a resourceful cook, like many plucky Viet cooks who’ve come to this country and successfully created savors from their homeland. In that process, Vietnamese-Americans bridged cultures and contributed to the diversity of food at the American table. They also helped to evolve Vietnamese food. At the same time, many (like me!) traveled back to Vietnam and brought back new ideas and modern flavors. Vietnam doesn’t stand still.
This new book captures that dynamic in doable recipes and lots of cooking insights to get you to dive in. You’ll understand how Viet flavors can be built, how to put together a satisfying meal or menu, and how to incorporate Vietnamese cooking into your life in a low-stress manner.
My overarching goal as a food writer and cooking teacher is to move Asian foodways from the margins into the mainstream. Vietnamese food has made great strides in the last forty years. This week, a friend and fellow cookbook author Kate Leahy shared data on the popularity of iconic Vietnamese dishes on American menus. She wrote, “In the past 4 years, menu mentions of banh mi increased 195% and pho mentions increased 27%. Whoo-hoo!”
Additionally, the James Beard Foundation announced its 2018 awards for American Classic food establishments. Among the five selected was Dong Phuong, a beloved bakery and restaurant in New Orleans that’s known for its banh mi and a Viet take on King Cakes. And, the new Food and Wine issue on comfort food sports a cover shot of beef pho, a recipe by a Saint Louis-based Vietnamese-American chef and his mom. It’s a great time for Vietnamese food in America.
My recipe testers and I had a lot of fun working on Vietnamese Any Day. I’m incredibly excited for you to get the book and make the recipes your own!
Editing, photography, design, printing and distribution takes a year. That’s why we’re looking at a February 2019 release date. To be kept in the loop on the book release, giveaways and other good stuff, sign up for the Vietnamese Any Day email list! (I promise to keep the emails to a minimum.)
- Tomorrow around 12:40pm PST, I’ll be on Vancouver radio talking with Nathan Fong about pho. He’s traveled to Vietnam and is a great cook. Tune in here.
- Spring cooking classes are up so check them out in the sidebar and on this page.