Square Peg, £20
The best way to learn about Vietnamese cookery is to go to Vietnam and enrol on a few of the many cookery classes aimed at tourists. I’ve done this myself, and although teaching standards are variable, the good ones are worth it. You can then experience the excellent food markets, discover the full range of ingredients available, practise the techniques, and taste the dishes in situ.
Failing that, you need to buy a book – and this new hardback is one of the best I’ve seen. Written by the two young women who run the Bánhmì11 food stalls in London markets, the scope of the books is goes far beyond spice-filled baguettes. There are soups, stews, salads, noodle dishes, meat and fish recipes, all with the British kitchen and cook in mind.
We tried out two of Bánhmì11’s signature dishes, the Imperial barbecue pork baguette and the fish baguette. Both involved making fresh pickles a few hours before, but the ingredients were easy to get hold of, the instrictions very clear – and the resulting dishes very impressive. These recipes were well-edited, as is the rest of the content. Beautiful dish and location photography by Yuki Sugiura illustrates dishes as diverse as temple tofu, claypot chicken with ginger, or green papaya salad with crisp anchovies.
Highly accessible with recipes that are alluring and achievable, this is one of the best books on Vietnamese food for the London kitchen. Not quite as good as doing a cookery course in Vietnam, perhaps, but an excellent entry point.
Guy Dimond, Time Out London Issue 2242 Aug 27-Sept 2, 2013Buy this book