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Andrea Nguyen
San Francisco Bay Area
I'm a cookbook author, food writer, and cooking teacher based in the San Francisco Bay Area. My publications include "Into the Vietnamese Kitchen" (2006), "Asian Dumplings" (2009), "Asian Tofu" (2012), and "The Banh Mi Handbook" (July 2014) all published by Ten Speed Press. Additionally, I developed the "Asian Market Shopper" iPhone app with Chronicle Books. A contributing editor to SAVEUR, I also write for the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, and other publications..
Interests: food, wine, history, art, cooking, travel
Recent Activity
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Man, I have been swamped with so many deadlines that I failed to notice until this afternoon that Viet World Kitchen (my primary website) is a finalist for a Craftsy Blogger Award! Yahoo. I have two online classes at Craftsy with over 6,000 people enrolled in both of them! I guess they must think the classes and VWK are pretty helpful to nominate me. Here's the deal: Voting ends tomorrow (1/28/15) at noon mountain time. Do me a huge favor and cast your vote for VWK. Scroll down to "Vote Now! Best Craftsy Cooking Instructor's Blog" at the Craftsy blogger awards page. (You don't have to register with Craftsy to vote. I just noticed that I'm currently in second place behind Collette Christian.) P.S. The first issue of the VWK newsletter went out this afternoon. If you subscribed, it should have conveniently landed in your inbox. If not, access the... Continue reading
Posted 6 hours ago at Asian Dumpling Tips
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Man, I have been swamped with so many deadlines that I failed to notice until this afternoon that Viet World Kitchen is a finalist for a Craftsy Blogger Award. Yahoo. I have two online classes at Craftsy with over 6,000 people enrolled in both of them! I guess they must think the classes and this site are pretty helpful to nominate me. Here's the deal: Voting ends tomorrow (1/28/15) at noon mountain time. Do me a huge favor and cast your vote for VWK. Scroll down to "Vote Now! Best Craftsy Cooking Instructor's Blog" at this Craftsy blogger awards page. You don't have to register with Craftsy to vote. I just noticed that I'm currently in second place behind French pastry expert Collette Christian. Croissants... Continue reading
Posted 6 hours ago at Viet World Kitchen
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There are many gluten-free and near gluten-free dumplings in the Asian repertory but most people gravitate toward potstickers. I regularly field inquiries about GF dumplings via email and in my Craftsy online Asian dumpling class. I don’t blame people. Who wants to miss out on dumplings? Plus, Chinese pan-fried dumplings are seriously good, with a contrast of crisp bottoms, tender-chewy skins and juicy filling. A dumpling filling is easy to make gluten-free. You basically just replace regular soy sauce with one that is wheat-free. The trick is the dough. For a tutorial on how to make gluten-free potstickers, jump to the post and recipe at Viet World Kitchen! Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Asian Dumpling Tips
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There are many gluten-free and near gluten-free dumplings in the Asian repertory but most people gravitate toward potstickers. I regularly field inquiries about GF dumplings via email and in my Craftsy online Asian dumpling class. I don’t blame people. Who wants to miss out on dumplings? Plus, Chinese pan-fried dumplings are seriously good, with a contrast of crisp bottoms, tender-chewy skins and juicy filling. The filling is easy to make gluten-free (basically, just replace regular soy sauce with one that is wheat-free). The trick is the dough. Potstickers are traditionally made with a wheat flour wrapper. I’ve tinkered with several gluten-free wrapper doughs over the years and always go back to one adapted from Laura Russell’s Gluten-Free Asian Cookbook. The gluten-free dumpling dough combines tapioca... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Viet World Kitchen
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I’m always thrilled when people make recipes from my books or this blog and report their progress. It’s incredibly rewarding when they volunteer tips and insight for me to share! Since late last year, I’ve been keeping a stash of interesting tips. There have naturally been a number of banh mi tips so I’m unleashing them today! Jo in Seattle has been going to town with making banh mi. We got to meet at my Book Larder event last September. For the selfie contest last year, Jo baked the bread and made the Maggi steak on page 101 of the handbook; her impressive entry is above. I encourage people to initially follow recipes in my books, then play and tweak them. That’s my approach to... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Viet World Kitchen
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America continues its lovefest with Sriracha chile sauce. Every few months, I hear about a new rendition. I've made my own, done tastings, and tried the original Sriracha sauce. Frank Ball and I started an email conversation long about the popularity of Sriracha chile sauce. He’d read VWK posts about the chile sauce and one day, sent along the above photo from a Bed Bath and Beyond in White Plains, New York. Frank is a former movie maker and author of a terrific book on professional kitchen tips for home cooks. We’ve kept in touch since and this week, he emailed an interesting video made about the production of Huy Fong’s Sriracha hot sauce. A quick recap: Huy Fong has been making various kinds of... Continue reading
Posted Jan 15, 2015 at Viet World Kitchen
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All of the Bay Area first quarter cooking classes are now full! The ones in Santa Cruz sold out in less than a week, then the San Francisco ones soon thereafter. I just opened two more in Santa Cruz at New Leaf Market’s community classroom. Where we'll cook up a storm! These are hands-on classes limited to 12 people. I shop for all ingredients and will have an assistant on hand too. You're there to learn and have a good time. No one has ever left my class feeling hungry. What's up ahead: May 2, 11am-3pm: Asian Dumplings Bootcamp 1 May 30, 11am-3:30pm: Pho and Banh Mi Workshop I hope you can make it and if not, please share the info with friends. Also, if... Continue reading
Posted Jan 15, 2015 at Viet World Kitchen
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I love tofu but have not been able to wrap my head around tempeh. I’ve tried various recipes over the years and things just never tasted great. Last year in Singapore, my friend Christopher Tan took us to an Indonesian restaurant and the fried tempeh was amazing, nutty and multidimensional. I sensed that the process for culturing and fermenting the soybeans in Asia yields a superior product. Plus, many cooks there are comfortable with using tempeh. I began to warm up to tempeh. A couple of vegetarian and vegan friends in the States have urged me to tackle it. Case in point: Randy Clemens contributed a sriracha tempeh recipe for the banh mi book. I was skeptical at first but it turned out to be... Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2015 at Viet World Kitchen
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It’s been years since I foraged for chanterelle mushrooms beneath oak trees near a cottage that we rented out in the country. Alas, after five years of living on septic, we bought a house with city plumbing. We are urban people but I surely missed the fall and winter mushroom season. I only foraged for chanterelles because they were easy to identify. A beginner’s mushroom. Our landlord Ray show us how to identify and clean them. For example, look under trees (not on trees) and check for forked gills (not true, separate gills of the false chanterelle). Partially air dry to make dirt removal easy. Cleaned and air dried. My friends Jessica Largey and Aisha Ibrahim, the chef de cuisine and sous chef at Manresa... Continue reading
Posted Jan 8, 2015 at Viet World Kitchen
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Happy 2015! How was your new year? Mine has involved a lot of lollygagging, which I am extra good at once I tell myself to put the cell phone down and step away from the computer. I’ve been cooking a lot of fun stuff, including a bunch of chanterelle mushrooms. Manresa restaurant chefs Jessica Largey and Aisha Ibrahim showed up for dinner on January 1 holding the mushrooms as if they were bouquets of flowers. They’d spent the day picking citrus and foraging chanterelles for the restaurant and shared a little of their bounty with me! I woke up on January 2 pondering what to do with the mushrooms, which weighed about 3 pounds total; most of them were the size of grapefruits. On the... Continue reading
Posted Jan 5, 2015 at Viet World Kitchen
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The week between Christmas and New Years is my time for living lazily. I don’t want to cook overly fussy foods. I’m interested in using up foods in my freezer – like a container of the Chinese beef and tofu skin soup that I made months ago. There are also little one-bite snacks like these, which I fancied to serve along with drinks. This evening, San Francisco Chronicle food journalist Tara Duggan is stopping by for cocktails and snacks. Along with cheese and pate, I thought of these spicy crab bites. They’re my modern take on a 1950s-type of drink snacks – crab and mayonnaise seasoned in a piquant manner and baked atop a toast point. In my case, I used a tiny rice cracker... Continue reading
Posted Dec 30, 2014 at Viet World Kitchen
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Thanks for being part of the Viet World Kitchen community this year! I greatly appreciate your contributions to the conversations here and on social media. This is how it's all suppose to work and I thank you for making 2014 truly amazing. I hope you and your family enjoy a fabulous holiday season. ~ Andrea Continue reading
Posted Dec 25, 2014 at Viet World Kitchen
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Our neighbor down the street stopped us yesterday on our walk and yelled at his son to go into the house to “get us a little something.” His gift turned out to be a small sweet potato custard, a family holiday favorite that he and his son had just finished making. We often pause to say hello and chat with the fellow, an African-American gentleman who uses a wheelchair and cane for his mobility. He also fixes and restores cars and our conversations over the years have ranged from the weather and classic cars to cooking and race relations. Carrying the warm sweet potato custard home, I was glad to have a little something to gift back: fruitcake. I know . . . you may... Continue reading
Posted Dec 22, 2014 at Viet World Kitchen
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We may be in for another banh mi shortage. A third and fourth printing are underway but I noticed that Amazon is low and shipping is delayed. Barnes and Noble and other e-tailers have the books but if you need one fast, check a local vendor. Because The Banh Mi Handbook is a well-priced book with broad appeal, I've been wondering who is selling it. Ten Speed Press publisher Hannah Rahill kindly sent a list of where the book is being sold. I omitted large entities such as Amazon and B&N, as well as huge book distributors that channel books to retailers large and small. What remains on the list is below -- businesses that have established accounts with Random House, the parent company of... Continue reading
Posted Dec 21, 2014 at Viet World Kitchen
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I went to the supermarket to buy a can of Spam. The canned meat section was pretty tidy except for where the Spam was. It was unruly and about half empty. I was flummoxed, not so much by the run on Spam, but by the variety of it. The last time I used Spam was in the mid-1990s, as a joke appetizer for a Spam-loving friend’s birthday: I made Spam turnovers and he and his Beverly Hills hairdresser pals loved them. Since then I’d missed out on all the changes in the world of Spam. It is nowadays super varied to smartly target different diets (low sodium or low-cal), ethnic interests (teriyaki, black pepper, and jalapeno) and porky interests (hickory/bbq or bacon). The recipes on... Continue reading
Posted Dec 18, 2014 at Viet World Kitchen
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You can sort of blame this recipe for tasty tofu latkes on Patricia L. She’d taken a couple of my cooking classes in the past and we ran into each other yesterday at the health food store. After we caught up and I told her about the classes for next year, she asked me about making latkes with potato and daikon for Hanukkah, which starts tonight. What did I think? Should she use rice flour? In the past week both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal ran stories about people switching things up for Hanukkah. Latkes were getting tweaked to create okonomi-latke (by Japanese-Jewish couple) and poutine latkes (a French-Canadian twist). Pat sensed something when she thought of using daikon radish with potato.... Continue reading
Posted Dec 16, 2014 at Viet World Kitchen
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In the middle of all the stuff that went on this week, I decided to roast a duck. (Btw, thanks for supporting the cooking class venture because one sold out in less than 36 hours and the other is a third full!) Back to the duck. If you’ve been hanging out with me on VWK long enough, you may know that I have a thing for Chinese duck. I buy it at Asian markets and make it at home. Peking, Sichuan, Cantonese duck, I’ve prepared them. For years I assumed that you could only get great whole ducks at Asian markets but lately, they’ve been sad, scrawny specimens crammed into the butcher case or frozen. I’ve tried Mary’s ducks from California but the butchering isn’t... Continue reading
Posted Dec 12, 2014 at Viet World Kitchen
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Do you ever have days or weeks when it seems like an amazing wealth of good things happen to you but at the same time, you can’t seem to check things off your list? That’s me since Monday. I’ve been trying to plan and my cooking class schedule for early next year and squaring things away has taken much longer than anticipated! I also had a little slip over the weekend on a dark, wet sidewalk and was moving slower than normal. Today is the first day that I woke up totally normal (look Ma, I can stand with no pain!). With early morning speed and agility, I participated in an online chat with Washington Post food writers to answer reader questions about Asian markets... Continue reading
Posted Dec 10, 2014 at Viet World Kitchen
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My father has always been into butter, something that I picked up from him. For Vietnamese people of Bo Gia’s generation, the benchmark brand of butter came in a stout red can with gold lettering. Buerre Bretel (bơ Bretel, “buh Bruh-tell”) was highly prized for its super rich, umami-laden flavor. In a tropical country where water buffaloes far outnumbered dairy cows, the imported French butter was considered an expensive, luxury food. If you could afford the dense, egg yolk yellow salted spread, you were living large. For villagers who may not have ever tasted the butter, the empty cans were recycled for measuring even portions of rice, according to historian Erica Peters in Appetites and Aspirations in Vietnam. After we resettled in California, my dad... Continue reading
Posted Dec 4, 2014 at Viet World Kitchen
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Whether or not you like to treat yourself or others to something nice for the holidays, consider these interesting items and worthy causes. Some are old and some are new. Several came out of the blue. I grouped these things according to interest. I vowed to spend more time reading fiction in 2014 and my friend Shane Mitchell mailed me a copy of Violet Kupersmith’s debut novel, The Frangipani Hotel. It’sa collection of ghost stories that take place in Vietnam and abroad. She’s a remarkable first-time author who weaves dreamy, eerie threads to reflect the nuances of Vietnamese culture. Aussie expat, chef and Hanoi Cooking Centre owner Tracey Lister has a totally below-the-radar book out on Vietnamese home cooking. Look for Real Vietnamese Cooking if... Continue reading
Posted Dec 2, 2014 at Viet World Kitchen
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One of the great pleasures of Thanksgiving is eating the leftovers. Sometimes the leftovers taste better to me than during the original meal itself. I don’t know if it’s because I’m not feeling as wound up or the food has aged a bit. Maybe I’ve aged a bit too. One way to savor leftovers is to simply reheat them and relive the meal. Another approach is to transform the leftovers into something else. Cue the post-Thanksgiving sandwich. A turkey Club sandwich used to be my go-to, but this year, I thought of a Thanksgiving leftovers banh mi. National Public Radio reporter Karen Bates prompted me because she had taped a banh mi story with me earlier this year and our Viet sandwich session will air... Continue reading
Posted Nov 28, 2014 at Viet World Kitchen
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About fifteen years ago, after moving to Santa Cruz in the Monterey Bay where there were acres upon acres of Brussels sprouts, I decided to surprise my family at the holidays with a ‘new’ vegetable. We never had them when I was growing up and my husband introduced me to them one fall long ago. I thought the small cabbage like vegetable was charming and delicious, with a hint of heat and funky sweetness. In the Monterey Bay, Brussels sprouts were sold at farmer’s markets and mounds of freshly trimmed, tight little ones were stocked at local independent markets. Surely my parents, siblings, nieces and nephews would be as charmed as I. I bought about 5 pounds of the sprouts and drove them to Southern... Continue reading
Posted Nov 25, 2014 at Viet World Kitchen
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A while back, someone on Twitter alerted me to a pho banh mi at Andrew Le's The Pig and The Lady in Honolulu. It was suppose to be divine, the person said. I wasn’t about to hop on a plane to Hawaii, but when I was in Los Angeles this summer, I tried the pho banh mi at Chloe Tran’s East Burough in Culver City. She served it with a side of pho broth to offer a Viet twist on an American classic. Chloe told me that the genesis of her creation was simply “Why not?” and it worked! When I ate it, I found myself not dipping the sandwich in the broth because for me, banh mi is not wet. Plus sipping on her... Continue reading
Posted Nov 20, 2014 at Viet World Kitchen
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Depending on your age, you may remember a time in America when there was no fish sauce at the supermarkets. That was my family’s experience in 1975, when we found ourselves cooking and eating with La Choy soy sauce. (Shudder.) Our food wasn’t quite right until we bought a car and drove to Chinatown in Los Angeles to seek fish sauce and other Viet staples. My mom recycled one of the small La Choy bottles as a fish sauce dispenser, which she still keeps on her dining table today. Nowadays you’re likely to find a bottle of Thai Tiparos in the “Asian” section of mainstream grocery stores. There are galangal and fresh turmeric at Whole Foods. That said, sourcing ingredients to make good Asian food... Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2014 at Viet World Kitchen
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One of the things that I’ve been remiss about since the banh mi book came out is the fact that I can’t do a full-blown book tour. I love to cook, chat and eat with people but book tours are expensive to finance and I mostly pay my own way. Our online conversation are terrific but some people benefit from reading and watching, attending in-person events. Since that is unlikely, here's a possible solution: a 30-minute video of a talk and cooking demonstration that I did in early October at Google headquarters in Venice Beach (Los Angeles). I was jazzed to get the invitation because I not only did I get to present one of my favorite foods, but also to set foot inside the... Continue reading
Posted Nov 13, 2014 at Viet World Kitchen