Friday, October 2, 2015

Cook Book Review: Simply Vietnamese Cooking - 135 Delicious Recipes

I love food and I enjoy Vietnamese food once in a while. It's actually quite easy to make at home following this recipe book. Simply Vietnamese Cooking provides so many recipes for delicious Vietnamese dishes, from soups and snacks to stir-fries, noodles, and sweets, which home cooks can make with success for pleasure for family and friends.

Bright, delicate and satisfying, the cuisine of Vietnam is absolutely phenomenal. Sour flavors are balanced by salty ones, while sweet notes are answered by a little heat from chili peppers. Nancie's easy recipes from this book will help you make an array of traditional dishes with widely available ingredients.

Below is just one of my favorite recipes (a comfort food):

Pho Noodles with Beef - Hanoi Style
Serves 4

8 cups chicken stock
1 lb round steak, sliced crosswise into 1-inch strips
3 pieces cinnamon sticks
3 whole cloves
3 star anise
1 unpeeled medium onion, quartered lengthwise
1/2 cup peeled and very coarsely chopped fresh gingerroot
8oz linguine-width dried rice noodles (banh pho)
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups bean sprouts
1 cup very thinly sliced green onion
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 fresh jalepeno chiles, cut diagonally into thin ovals
1-1/4 lbs bonless rib-eye, strip or flank steak


1. Stock: In a stockpot or a very large saucepan, combine the chicken broth, sliced round steak, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and star anise in a stockpot or a very large saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat.

2. Meanwhile, brown the onion and ginger to bring out their flavor: heat a large skillet over medium-high heat until very hot, about 1 minute. Add the quartered onion and ginger and let them cook on one surface until handsomely browned but not burnt. Turn and sear the other surface, and continue cooking until all the pieces are well browned and fragrant. Add the charred onion and ginger to the stockpot, and let everything boil gently for 1 hour.

3. While the broth is cooking, soften the rice nooidles by immersing them in a medium bowl of warm water until they become flexible and bright white, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain well and set aside.

4. Remove the broth from the heat, and stir in the fish sauce, sugar, and salt. Strain the broth into a large saucepan, discarding all the solids. Or, if you are preparing your pho in advance, strain the broth into a storage container instead. Let it cool to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

5. About 30 minutes before you plan to serve the dish, prepare the noodles, boneless beef, and accompaniments. Place the bean sprouts, sliced onion, fresh herbs, green onion, lime juice, and chilies near 4 big Asian-style noodle bowls, pasta plates, or soup bowls in which you will serve the broth. Bring a large saucepan of water to a rolling boil over high heat for the noodles. Meanwhile, pour the broth into a saucepan, bring it to a gentle boil over medium-high heat, and adjust the heat to maintain a lively simmer. Cut the steak in half crosswise, put both pieces in the simmering broth, and cook for 10 minutes, or until medium-rare. Transfer the steak to a cutting board, slice into thin, bite-sized strips, and set aside.

6. Shortly before serving, cook the noodles: Drop the softened rice noodles into the boiling water, remove from the heat, and let stand for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice to separate any noodle clumps into strands. Meanwhile, bring the simmering broth to a rolling boil.

7. Drain the noodles well, and quickly divide them up among the 4 bowls (about 1 cup per bowl). Top each noodle bowl with one-fourth of the sliced steak, bean sprouts, onion, herbs, green onion, lime juice, and chilies. Ladle hot broth (about 1½ cups) over the noodles in each bowl, and serve at once. Be sure to provide each guest with a fork or chopsticks, and an Asian soup spoon or a large spoon.


What I like about this recipe book is that the ingredients are simple and mouthwatering photos. I can find them in our local Asian Supermarkets. The dishes tastes wonderful!

You'll find speedy stir-fries, vibrant salads and soothing soups, as well as numerous recipes for cooking meat and seafood on the grill. And all feature that wonderful balance between fresh herbs and spices (except for the sweets and drinks, of course!)

You'll soon be enjoying a variety of authentic, classic recipes that really are fast enough to prepare during a busy work week. With extensive information on ingredients, substitutions and time-saving techniques, along with suggested menus, you'll be cooking simply sumptuous Vietnamese food in your home kitchen in no time.


Nancie McDermott is an expert on the food and culture of Thailand, where she lived for three years as a Peace Corps volunteer. She has traveled extensively throughout Asia and has written 10 cookbooks, including 300 Best Stir-Fry Recipes. Nancy is a frequent guest chef on television and radio and also writes for newspapers and magazines. She lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the mentioned book from the PR firm or publisher in exchange of my review. Thanks to Robert Rose Inc. Any expressed opinions are my own and personal thoughts. No other compensation was given.

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