Cookbook Book Club: Into the Vietnamese Kitchen

Photo Credit: Olga

Olga of Polkadots Cupcake Factory organized and hosted the first meeting of our Cookbook Book Club. She invited a few friends. I’m so happy she thought of this and has included me. It ended up being such a lovely night over homecooked food and fresh flowers! (One of our members, who doesn’t cook, is in charge of ambiance (also known as flowers).)

The first book chosen, Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, was aligned with one of my New Year’s Resolutions (learn 10 Vietnamese dishes). I’ve already done a few of the easier recipes from this book so I was forced a little out of my comfort zone. I chose to do Canh Chua (directly translates to “Soup Sour”). Traditionally it is a sweet and sour soup made with tamarind, tomatoes, bean sprouts, taro stems, okra, and either fish or shrimp.

I made two modifications to the recipe from the cookbook. Andrea Nguyen noted that typically the soup has taro stems but because they are flavorless, she omits them. She also instructed to season the soup with cumin. I added the taro stems to be more like the soup I grew up on and omitted the cumin. Cumin is a flavor I have never associated with Canh Chua. I called my mom to get her advice and she too supported my decision to omit cumin. I’ve been intimidated by this Canh Chua endeavor for a couple of years now and am happy to report I was just being silly. The hardest part about this recipe was finding tamarind at the Asian store.

If you’re interested in giving this soup a try, I found her recipe on Saveour. A note she had in her book that isn’t present in the link, the pineapple is optional. Use frozen or fresh but do not resort to canned. The soup can stand on its own sans pineapple. (I made mine like my mom’s so I went without!)

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