cover image Authentic Vietnamese Cooking: Food from a Family Table

Authentic Vietnamese Cooking: Food from a Family Table

Corinne Trang. Simon & Schuster, $30 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-684-86444-0

Vietnamese cuisine, which fuses French and Chinese traditions, is no stranger to the American palate, and food writer Trang, raised by a French mother and a Cambodian-born Chinese father, is ideally suited to become its latest proponent. Subtly combining such familiar ingredients as chilies, cilantro, garlic, star anise and lime, Trang also calls for rarer components like Thai basil (for which Italian is no substitute), lotus seeds, and dried squid and shrimp. Though home cooks will have to scavenge Asian markets for ingredients, they will not be intimidated by the recipes. The dishes are as intriguing as Pineapple and Anchovy Dipping Sauce for beef and as familiar as Chicken Curry. Stuffed Fish is a carp or sea bass filled with a redolent paste of pork, reconstituted shiitake mushrooms, ginger and fish sauce. Spicy Beef and Carrot Stew with its five-spice powder, lemongrass and coconut milk has evolved from the classic French dish, Boeuf aux Carottes. Because most Vietnamese main-course recipes call for sugar or another sweetening agent, the desserts are traditionally fresh fruits. Trang, however, does offer recipes for Toasted Coconut Ice Cream and Sesame Rice Dumplings. Her inspired, often simple dishes will nicely stretch the boundaries of home kitchen fare. (Dec.)