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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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I’ve cooked from recipes in books (obviously!), on the internet (of course), and from food package labels (it’s true!) but never from a wall calendar. No calendar recipe has inspired me as much as the one I recently received from Michelle Tam, a best-selling cookbook author, blogger and undeniably, the Queen of Paleo. She’s also a friend. We met a few years ago on a trip to Vietnam and I realized that she lived nearby in the Bay Area! You likely know of Michelle’s work -- Nom Nom Paleo, a super popular website and cookbook. I do not keep a Paleo diet but I appreciate her efforts to get families to cook, eat well, and lead healthy lives. Michelle and her husband Henry Fong have... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Viet World Kitchen
I'm sure you'd make a very special rice salad.
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You're a slicer expert and collector. Yowza.
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Make some and share your feedback. I'm sure Bubbies has nothing like it!
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Most people associate pickled ginger with Japanese sushi but it’s prepared and enjoyed in other parts of Asia. Years ago thumbing through a classic Vietnamese cookbook from the 1940s, I came across a pickled ginger recipe that was similar to the Japanese preparation but less sweet. Here’s a Thai recipe that is more tart than sweet and another that’s fancied up with lemongrass and chile (reminds me of the green tomato pickle I make). But the Japanese version (gari) is without doubt the go-to. The commercial gari pales in comparison to homemade, which has brighter flavor and personality. Plus you can tweak the brine according to your taste. The first task is getting the ginger! Typically cooks use young ginger that’s mild in heat and... Continue reading
Posted Jul 16, 2017 at Viet World Kitchen
Terrific idea. Thanks!
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A girl's gotta do what's necessary. I should call that foraging.
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I have a friend in Burlington, VT, and she said it's been a super wet year. I'm sorry to hear that! But this is a way to use tomatoes that you may think are spent. I pick the so-so ones at the end of the season from my garden and make a batch. As for the lemongrass, buy it! Mine hasn't died from neglect but it does struggle (my fault). Maybe fall will be fabulous?!
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When summer hits, I’m on the lookout for green tomatoes. No, not the heirloom, fancy ones that are green in their ripe state. I’m talking rock hard, unripe tomatoes. They’re firm, meaty and perfect for pickling because they’ll retain a little crunch. I eat pickles too fast to do the canning jars and sterilization. Instead, I do a flash pickle and keep a bunch in the fridge to slide into banh mi sandwiches and to also serve as a side pickle. This is one of my favorite summertime pickles. I developed this recipe originally for my cookbook, The Banh Mi Handbook. It was a variation for a snow pea pickle. I loved the lemongrass, slight garlicky and spicy chile heat notes so much that in... Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2017 at Viet World Kitchen
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I haven’t baked a cheesecake in years because I couldn’t commit to our family of two eating up an entire one. Traditional cheesecakes tend to be heavy, prepared with a lot of cream cheese, and are not easy for me to digest (I’m not great with big doses of dairy). Tofu cheesecakes are a relative novelty in Asia too, which is why I didn't include a recipe in the Asian Tofu cookbook. But while working on the Paula Wolfert biography-cookbook, I learned about Italian ricotta cheesecake from one of her recipes that we included in the book. It was super simple to make in the processor and baked up light tasting. I thought of making it with tofu since ricotta and I are not good... Continue reading
Posted Jun 29, 2017 at Viet World Kitchen
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“A lot of hoop houses around here are being redone to grow herb,” a farmer’s market vendor told us a few weeks ago as we were exchanging money for produce. Wow, my husband and I thought, people are really into basil, parsley, and cilantro. Was there a trend I was missing? I had a bunch of herbs growing in our garden at home but didn’t sense that something new was happening. Turns out the vendor was talking about marijuana, the new legal cash crop in California. There’s a lot of transition happening in the Salinas Valley to cultivating cannabis, according to this New York Times article. My husband and I chuckled at how out of it we were that morning. Duh. Due to this year’s... Continue reading
Posted Jun 22, 2017 at Viet World Kitchen
Love that your dad got into the pho assembly action too!!! Thank you for sharing your family's pho story!
Toggle Commented Jun 20, 2017 on How to Host a Pho Party! at Viet World Kitchen
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Hello Gau, Welcome!
Toggle Commented Jun 14, 2017 on How to Host a Pho Party! at Viet World Kitchen
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That's awesome, Marion! The pho stars have aligned for non-meat eaters!
Toggle Commented Jun 14, 2017 on How to Host a Pho Party! at Viet World Kitchen
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Just because summer is coming up does not mean you need to put aside your pho forays. Pho is a year-round thing in Vietnam, with people slurping up bowls in hot temperatures to cool themselves down. But aside from the noodle soup, how can you get the pho-ish flavor during grilling season? Cue that pho spice blend that I wrote about. That recipe is in The Pho Cookbook. When I wrote the book, I didn’t have space to include this recipe, though I did suggest how to use the spice blend as a rub. Now I’ll share the details. I chose tri-tip because it’s relatively flat (lots of surface area for creating a pho flavored exterior), marbled (fat is good for flavor), and affordable (good... Continue reading
Posted Jun 13, 2017 at Viet World Kitchen
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My family regularly had our own pho party on Sunday mornings, but when I was growing up, I didn’t realize it. We’d attend 8 a.m. Mass, eat the little communion wafer, and our tummies would start to rumble. “Join us for doughnuts and coffee in the hall after service,” someone would announce but I knew that we’d never participate. My family quickly piled back into our station wagon and sped home. Mom would change out of her fancy silk ao dai tunic and slip on a more casual blouse suitable for cooking. Some of us would set the table while others formed an assembly line to set up the bowls for pho. I was often in charge of portioning out the noodles. “Remember to put... Continue reading
Posted Jun 9, 2017 at Viet World Kitchen
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I’m a sucker for a good supermarket display, which is why last week, I found myself captivated by a DIY plum wine (technically, it's a liqueur) display at Mitsuwa, a chain of Japanese markets. Unbeknownst to me, we’re in the season to make hooch out of unripened, tart green ume, a kind of apricot it turns out. I’d only had commercially-made Japanese plum wine produced with a base of white wine, and it was good chilled. For the Saigon Silk cocktail on page 150 in The Pho Cookbook, we used Takara plum wine. What would homemade be like? The little fruits (Prunus mume) are related to apricots but commonly referred to in English as a plum. The fruits are preserved and made into drinks and... Continue reading
Posted Jun 1, 2017 at Viet World Kitchen
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After I recently wrote about a favorite Indian egg curry recipe, someone on Instagram suggested that I try the Burmese version. The person actually extended a future invitation to his mom’s house to underscore the merits of the Burmese version. I was intrigued and instead of waiting for the actual invite, I opened Burma Superstar, a new cookbook by restaurateur Desmond Tan and veteran cookbook author Kate Leahy (a friend of mine). I perused the book last night and this morning, bookmarking a lot of recipes to try. I own a handful of Burmese cookbooks and this one doesn’t make the cuisine exotic in any way. It explains and informs. What is Burma Superstar? It's a restaurant in the Bay Area and the first of... Continue reading
Posted May 24, 2017 at Viet World Kitchen
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Imbuing pho broth with whole spices is to be expected but when you want to define as well as reinforce the pho imprint, use this spice blend. I formulated it for The Pho Cookbook to give cooks a tool that could help them make something more “pho-ish”, to help it say, “I am pho-like!” My initial motivation was to come up with a homemade hoisin sauce recipe on page 102 of the book. What’s bottled and sold as hoisin sauce for pho (tuong an pho) is incredibly sweet and lacking complexity. I wanted my condiment to take a turn toward the pho family of flavors (say that a few times). I analyzed the ratio of spices that I typically use for pho and came up... Continue reading
Posted May 17, 2017 at Viet World Kitchen
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When my mom came to America in 1975, she faced challenges like starting a new career, negotiating a foreign society, and raising five kids with my dad. She also wanted to feed herself and our family good food. On the trip from Vietnam, she packed a small orange notebook of hand-written recipes of foods that she thought she’d need an assist with recreating in her new home. I just realized this week that pho was not one of recipes in her orange notebook of domesticity. She knew how to make it by heart. However, translating the pho recipe from Vietnam to America wasn’t easy, and she often consulted with friends on the weekends, when long distance phone rates were cheaper. (If you’re old enough, you... Continue reading
Posted May 9, 2017 at Viet World Kitchen
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Earlier this week, I was invited to Google headquarters in Mountain View. The mothership is made of many small buildings and within one of them, there’s a teaching kitchen where Googlers may take cooking classes. I came to do a special ChefTalk on pho and Chef Dede Sampson and her team made samples from The Pho Cookbook. Before my presentation began, Googlers were buying up the book and perusing it. By the time I finished, there were great questions, things that I’ve pondered as I’ve stood over the stove looking at my stockpot. Figuring that you may have similar questions, I’m sharing a synopsis of our conversation. Of course, if you have extra info or experiences to add, we’re all eyes and ears here at... Continue reading
Posted May 4, 2017 at Viet World Kitchen
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Without doubt, spices play a major role in defining pho. They contribute lots of aroma and flavor to create a multi-dimensional broth. They are subtly there to help express that something is pho-ish. Typical pho spices are warm and sweet, but each has its individual personality. If this sounds odd, consider the spices that go into chili beans. Now consider the characteristics of Chinese-five spice. The first pho cooks were Chinese-Vietnamese and China borders Vietnam’s northern reaches. You can smell and taste the influence of the Middle Kingdom. (Note: The above image by John Lee is in the Pho book and includes Chinese yellow rock sugar, which is not a spice but a seasoning ingredient.) Foundational Pho Spices When you’re leafing through and/or cooking through... Continue reading
Posted Apr 26, 2017 at Viet World Kitchen
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I love eggs in all manner. When I was young, my dad would soft boil eggs and we’d eat them together in egg cups. He showed me how to tap the top with the back of a spoon and peel back some of the shell to reveal the soft, jiggly insides. Then we’d sprinkle in some salt and pepper and eat them up. Those were fun times, the days before people watched their cholesterol levels and eggs became ‘bad’ food. Recently, eggs have made sort of a comeback. There’s a crisp fried egg atop all kinds of foods. Poached egg tutorials are popular, as is the soft-centered eggs enjoyed with Ramen (boil them for 6.5 minute only!). The French omelet is something I mastered for... Continue reading
Posted Apr 16, 2017 at Viet World Kitchen
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Seven years ago I was in Hanoi on assignment for Saveur magazine. My task was to explore Hanoi-style pho for a column called “Classics.” I’d done lots of reading and research and knew about ingredients like peanut worms (sa sung), which are used for umami in pho. I arrived in the capital thinking I’d be talking to local chefs about the worms, which seemed strangely and unique to the northern pho experience. But what I didn’t expect to encounter during my Hanoi pho experiences was dam toi garlic vinegar. Just like the above photo show, the vinegar appeared in plastic containers with long spoons for people to help themselves. It was on tables at nearly every pho shop I visited. It's what Hanoians expected, like... Continue reading
Posted Apr 8, 2017 at Viet World Kitchen
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Raise your hand if you’re had a hard time buying bean sprouts. At regular supermarkets, they’re often a challenge to find in the produce department, and not super fresh, having been packaged and shipped from somewhere far away. Even at my 1970s-era health food store where there are locally-grown bean sprouts, they’re often borderline wimpy – not perky and crisp as they ought to be. The fresher ones tend to come from Asian markets where there’s a fast turnaround but how often can you get to an Asian market? Face it, bean sprouts sold at markets can be pricey and sad for their price. “Grow bean sprouts,” my friend My Uyen said. “They’re fragrant and flavorful.” We were in Saigon eating at a modern, cool... Continue reading
Posted Apr 2, 2017 at Viet World Kitchen