by Diana My Tran & Diana Tran (2000)
One page of deliciousness after another is what you’ll find once you crack the cover of Diana My Tran’s The Vietnamese Cookbook. Tran has a couple of qualifications above and beyond her Vietnamese heritage as underpinnings to this book: She has two impatient children and a very busy career. Time, then, is of the essence. And yet, she wants to pass on to her children the food of their culture–while living in the U.S.
So from the many dishes of her own childhood in Saigon Diana My Tran has simplified technique while making use of the available foods in an American supermarket. The results are quickly prepared, flavorful renditions of Vietnamese classics that give the cook the sense of what Vietnamese cooking is all about. As Tran points out, part of what it’s all about is low-fat cooking with lots of vegetables–a veritable diet book.
Tran divides her book by rice, sauces, appetizers and salads, soups, main dishes, and desserts and beverages. She mixes lemon juice and lemon zest to create the Lemon Rice she serves with chicken and seafood. There’s also a recipe for sticky rice with peanuts. Her sauces include such standards as Sweet and Sour Fish Sauce and Sweet and Sour Soy Sauce. Among the appetizers you will find spring rolls, both fried and fresh. Also, Shrimp Mung Bean Rice Cakes. There’s a Papaya Shrimp Salad as well as a Lime Steak Salad. The wonderful Beef Noodle Soup (Pho Bo) is represented. Main dishes include Ginger Chicken, Honey Roasted Quail, Sesame Spareribs, Caramel Shrimp, Lemongrass Fish, and Vietnamese Crab Cakes.
The Vietnamese Cookbook is an easy way in to this wonderful culinary world. Let your palate be your guide. –Schuyler Ingle