With a predominance of rice, noodles, wheat, beans, fresh vegetables and herbs and a minimum of oil, Vietnamese is undoubtedly one of the healthiest cuisines of the world. Often referred to as the nouvelle cuisine of Asia, the contrasting flavours, varied textures and exotic ingredients provide a range of fragrant delights for the contemporary kitchen.
A fact-packed introduction offers a fascinating overview of the cuisine and culture of the different regions of Vietnam. There are marked regional variations in Vietnam's cuisine. Dishes from the north of Vietnam emphasise a Chinese influence with soy sauce and stir-frying providing essential features, and black pepper rather than chillies spicing up the dishes. Central Vietnam favours the serving of many small complex dishes, an inheritance of the royal preferences of the ancient kingdom of Champa. In the south, servings are larger and fewer, with fish sauce or nuoc mam as a key ingredient, hot chillies providing heat, and a wide selection of curries.
The recipe section is the heart of the book, and here chapters follow on Soups and Savoury Snacks; Fish and Shellfish; Meat and Poultry; Rice and Noodles; Vegetables, Salads, Pickles and Sauces, and Sweet Snacks and Drinks.
There are over 60 tantalizing recipes from all regions of Vietnam, all shown with step-by-step photographic instructions so great results are simple to achieve. Try the Vietnamese Spring Rolls which are popular all over the country or the Duck and Nut Soup with Jujubes originating from the north; alternatively, choose from Baked Cinnamon Meat Loaf served with a crusty baguette or Stir-fried Rice with Chinese Sausage eaten as a tasty snack; or for a sweet dish, make Jungle Fruits in Lemon Grass Syrup or Deep Fried Mung Bean Dumplings.
For anyone wanting to sample these fragrant, contrasting flavours, Vietnamese Cooking offers an essential introduction to the fresh and healthy food of the region.