Cook the Book: 'Into the Vietnamese Kitchen'

20090102intothevietnamesekitchen_cover.jpgWords by Michele Humes | Vietnamese restaurants in the U.S. tend to be dominated by pho and banh mi. Delicious as these signature creations are, Vietnam has a whole world of delicate, nuanced, often French-influenced dishes to explore. In Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, Andrea Nguyen, who also maintains the blog Viet World Kitchen, has compiled more than 175 recipes from her native land, carefully annotated so as not to intimidate the novice.

Vietnamese food is notable for its fresh herbs, vibrant colors, and refreshing, frequently acidic flavors. You'll find many of the same flavors throughout Southeast Asia, but only in the Vietnamese tradition is each meal accompanied by a variety of fresh, uncooked vegetables, served with a dipping sauce. On the whole, it's a relatively light and healthful cuisine, and the perfect antidote to the heavy, festive dishes we've all been consuming over the past month.

In solidarity with the dietary resolution-makers of the new year, we'll be posting one of Andrea Nguyen's light, bright Vietnamese specialties each day this week. Come back for chicken and vegetable clay pot rice (easily made in a Dutch oven), salmon soup with tomato, dill and garlic, and mandarin sorbet. For the die-hard banh mi fans out there, we'll also be posting a recipe for the famous baguette sandwich—which can be lightened by substituting firm tofu for pâté—complete with an accompanying carrot and daikon pickle.

Win 'Into the Vietnamese Kitchen'

Thanks to the fine folks at Reed Elsevier, we are giving away five (5) copies of Into the Vietnamese Kitchen. In the comments below, just share your biggest new year's food resolution.

Contest will end and comments will close at 3 p.m. ET, Monday, January 12, 2009. One entry per community member. The standard Serious Eats contest rules apply.