The Red Boat Fish Sauce Cookbook: Beloved Recipes from the Family Behind the Purest Fish Sauce

Cuong Pham with Tien Nguyen and Diep Tran. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25 (320p) ISBN 978-0-358-41097-3

In this satisfying debut, Pham, founder of the Red Boat Fish Sauce brand, celebrates the versatility of this savory ingredient in a variety of Vietnamese dishes. He starts by sharing the product’s fascinating history: after emigrating from Vietnam in 1979, it took him nine months, including a stint at a refugee camp in Malaysia, to arrive in the United States. Dissatisfied with the “one dimensional” American fish sauce he had to cook with for nearly three decades, he founded his own brand in 2011. Fish sauce appears in several recipes inspired by his mother’s cooking, such as thit ba roi cuon (pork roast) and bò kho (beef stew), as well as in Vietnamese staples like bacon and egg breakfast bánh mì and rau muong xao (morning glory greens with garlic). Pham also demonstrates how fish sauce can work in Western cuisines, particularly in dishes like pasta marinara (“The fish sauce gives it that extra oomph of flavor”) and chicken tinga. While some of these recipes require a considerable amount of time and ingredients not common to many American kitchens (lotus root, sawtooth herb), others can easily be prepared on weeknights, such as shrimp and green beans. This is excellent for umami-heads as well as home cooks looking for a gateway into Vietnamese cooking. Agent: Michele Crim, Miller Bowers Griffin Literary Management. (Oct.)