Vegetarian Viet Nam by Cameron Stauch

If you followed my exploits in New York last month at IACP, you may have noticed a few posts about Cameron Stauch and his debut cookbook, Vegetarian Viet Nam. I am proud to announce that I was the first person to ask the author for his autograph! While at the conference, I was able to take a quick peek at the book and was anxious to get home and spend time learning from this master. 

In the years the author spent living and cooking in Vietnam, he learned about a tradition of vegetarian Vietnamese cuisine that is light and full of flavor. Based on recipes devised over centuries by Mahayana Buddhist monks, the dishes in Vegetarian Viet Nam make use of the full arsenal of Vietnamese herbs and sauces to make tofu, mushrooms, and vegetables burst with flavor like never before. This all is evident in the photographs and recipes throughout this beautifully photographed book. 

With a lavishly illustrated glossary that helps you recognize the mushrooms, noodles, fruits, and vegetables that make up the vegetarian Vietnamese pantry, Cameron's book will unlock an entire universe of flavor to people who want healthy, tasty, and sustainable food. 

Recipes such as Star anise cinnamon scented pho noodle soup, Fragrant lemongrass Hue-style noodle soup and Cucumber pineapple rolls with coconut soy sauce will have you praising the flavor gods for Cameron's knowledge and his generosity in sharing same. The herbs and spices used in this book are among my favorites and I would be content cooking and eating from this book for a very long time. I am planning on trying a few recipes next week and I'll report back. I would love to have a vegetarian Vietnamese holiday this weekend but my husband might mark a demerit on my end of the quarter review that is coming up. For those of you that don't know me, that was indeed a joke. 

The urge to ramble on about this book is strong, but I want to get this promotion up before our newsletter goes out this evening because this book deserves all the accolades I can muster; time, however, is a cruel mistress. I can tell you that Cameron is working on a second cookbook about vegetarian Thai cooking which I am extremely happy about. Please make sure you visit A Global Kitchen on Facebook and follow his adventures there and on his website, you will not be sorry. 

Special thanks to W W Norton and the author for sharing the following recipe with our readers and for providing two copies of this book in our contest below open to US and Canada. 

 

Tofu with Fresh Tomato Sauce
Đậu Phụ Sốt Cà Chua
Add this recipe to your Bookshelf (click the blue +Bookshelf button).

Tofu with fresh tomato sauce is common in homes and casual restaurants throughout Việt Nam. Think of it as the country's spaghetti marinara. With tofu cubes that are crispy on the outside and meltingly tender within, paired with a deeply flavorful tomato sauce, this comfort food creates a simple yet satisfying meal, especially when plated alongside some vegetables. (See Chapter Eight for options.)   Serves 4 as a multidish meal

From the Pantry/Make Ahead

  • ¼ teaspoon Mushroom Powder (See below)
  • 1 pound (450 g) firm tofu, cut into 1½ inch
 (4 cm) cubes
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • ¾ pound (340 g) ripe plum tomatoes, finely chopped (1¾ cups)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄3 cup (80 ml) water, mushroom-soaking liquid, or Light or Rich Vegetable Stock (See below)
  • ¼ cup scallions, thinly sliced
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon roughly chopped cilantro
  • Prepare the Mushroom Powder.
  • Shallow-fry or deep-fry the tofu cubes 
(see page 60)

Heat the oil in a wok or skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir-fry until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Toss in the tomatoes, soy sauce, sugar, salt, and mushroom powder. Simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomato breaks down. Add the water and simmer gently for about 10 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Stir in the tofu, scallions, and black pepper and cook for another minute to coat the tofu lightly with the sauce. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle the cilantro over the top.

Note:

When ripe tomatoes are not in season, substitute a small (14.5-ounce; 410 g) can of plum tomatoes with their juices, roughly chopped, and reduce the cook time by a few minutes.

Mushroom powder
Add this recipe to your Bookshelf (click the blue +Bookshelf button).

Mushroom powder is magical. It's meaty, smoky, and filled with intense umami flavor. I prefer the natural glutamates found in dried mushrooms, although Vietnamese vegetarian cooks often turn to a manufactured vegan mushroom seasoning called hạt nêm nấm to impart added savoriness. I add it habitually in small amounts, like salt and pepper, to soups, stir-fries, and braises.

Due to their intensity, shiitakes are the ideal mushrooms for this powder. You could substitute sliced Italian porcini although their flavor is more pronounced, and they're more expensive, as is the shiitake or porcini powder you'll find in some specialty grocery stores.   Makes a scant ½ cup

1 ounce (30 g) dried shiitake mushrooms

Break the mushrooms into smaller pieces with your hands, scissors, or a knife. (Break off the hard stems of large shiitakes and store in the freezer to use when making vegetable stock.) Put into a spice or coffee grinder (or a blender with a narrow bowl) and grind for a couple of minutes. Stop occasionally to use a spoon or spatula to loosen any large pieces that may get stuck under the blades. (Note: When stopping the grinder, leave the top on for a minute or two to allow the mushroom dust to settle.)

Tip the powder into a small bowl. Gently tap the grinder cover over the bowl or use a spatula or a clean, dry brush to collect any powder that has stuck to it.

Transfer to a clean, dry jar and store indefinitely in a cool, dry place.

Light vegetable stock
Add this recipe to your Bookshelf (click the blue +Bookshelf button).

This clear, delicate broth illustrates how Vietnamese cooks prepare vegetable stock. Each cook I've met has a personal preference for which produce to use when making stock. Some add chayote, green papaya, or even a little pineapple, apple, or sugarcane to bring forth sweet, fruity notes. Others stick with vegetables, as I have here, changing them according to the season and their availability.

Makes about 3½ quarts (3½ liters)

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pound (454 g) carrots, thinly sliced (3 cups)
  • ½ pound (227 g) green cabbage, roughly chopped into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces
  • (3 cups)
  • ¾ pound (340 g) jicama, thinly sliced (3 cups)
  • ¾ pound (340 g) daikon, thinly sliced
  • (2½ cups)
  • ½ pound (227 g) leeks, green and white parts, thinly sliced (2 cups)
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 4 quarts (4 liters) water

Heat the oil in a 6-quart (6-liter) pot over high heat. Toss in the vegetables and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Don't worry if they brown lightly as they wilt. It adds flavor to the stock. Pour in the water and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer gently for 1 hour.

Carefully strain through a fine-mesh sieve positioned over another large pot or bowl in batches. Using the back of a spoon or ladle, gently press the vegetables in the sieve to extract any extra liquid. Discard and repeat with the remaining stock and vegetables.

Use immediately to make broths in other recipes or refrigerate in a covered container for up to 1 week. If you plan to freeze the stock, let it cool to room temperature, pour into containers with tight lids or zippered freezer bags, and freeze for up to 3 months.

Vegetable substitutes

For green cabbage: Napa cabbage, bok choy

For jicama: celery, celeriac, zucchini, Chinese celery, chayote

For daikon: kohlrabi, rutabaga, turnip

For leeks: onions or shallots, without skin; scallions

Rich vegetable stock
Add this recipe to your Bookshelf (click the blue +Bookshelf button).

This vegetable stock has great depth of flavor, and it's versatile enough to suit many cuisines beyond Vietnamese. Adding garlic and umami-boosting ingredients like tomatoes or dried shiitakes creates a richly flavored base for the Star Anise Cinnamon Scented Pho Noodle Soup (page 175), Fragrant Lemongrass Huế-Style Noodle Soup (page 179), and Wild Mushroom and Leafy Greens Noodle Soup (page 186).   Makes about 3½ quarts (3½ liters)

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pound (about 2 medium) onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound (454 g) carrots, thinly sliced (3 cups)
  • ½ pound (227 g; 3 or 4 stalks) celery, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • ¼ pound (112 g; 1 whole) plum tomato, roughly chopped
  • ¾ cup (1 ounce; 30 g) dried shiitake
  • mushrooms, rinsed
  • ¼ pound (120 g) fresh mushrooms or
  • ½ pound (227 g) eggplant, chopped
  • (2 cups)
  • 4 quarts (4 liters) water

 Heat the oil in a 6-quart (6-liter) pot over high heat. Toss in the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Don't worry if they brown as they wilt. It adds flavor and color to the stock. Add the tomato, shiitake mushrooms, and fresh mushrooms and cook for a few minutes. Pour in the water and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer gently for 1 hour.

Carefully strain through a fine-mesh sieve positioned over another large pot or bowl in batches. Using the back of a spoon or ladle, gently press the vegetables in the sieve to extract any extra liquid. Discard and repeat with the remaining stock and vegetables.

Even though you washed and rinsed the shiitake mushrooms, some dirt and grit may be released when the mushrooms are cooking. Allow the stock to sit for 15 minutes for any small grit particles to settle on the bottom of the pot. Check to see if there is any sediment on the bottom. If there is, when transferring the stock to a clean pot or storage containers, try to disturb the bottom of the stock as little as possible. Discard the last remaining ½ cup or so of gritty stock.

Use immediately to make broths in other recipes or refrigerate in a covered container for up to 1 week. If you plan to freeze the stock, let it cool to room temperature. Pour into containers with tight lids or zippered plastic bags and freeze for up to 3 months.

 

The publisher is offering two copies of this book to EYB Members in the US and Canada. One of the entry options is to answer the following question in the comments section of this blog post.

Which recipe in the index would you try first?

Please note that you must be logged into the Rafflecopter contest before posting or your entry won't be counted. For more information on this process, please see our step-by-step help post. Be sure to check your spam filters to receive our email notifications. Prizes can take up to 6 weeks to arrive from the publishers. If you are not already a Member, you can join at no cost. The contest ends at midnight on May 10th, 2018.


89 Comments

  • Kristjudy  on  3/28/2018 at 6:40 PM

    How good do cucumber pineapple rolls sound!

  • milgwimper  on  3/28/2018 at 7:10 PM

    pomelo salad

  • Schout  on  3/28/2018 at 9:19 PM

    Fragrant lemongrass Hue-style noodle soup (Bun bo hue chay)

  • rchesser  on  3/28/2018 at 9:30 PM

    Nutty mushroom pâté !

  • Scotsman61  on  3/28/2018 at 9:41 PM

    Nutty mushroom pâté

  • DarcyVaughn  on  3/28/2018 at 9:59 PM

    Vermicelli noodles with fresh turmeric, tofu, and Chinese chives

  • antpantsii  on  3/28/2018 at 10:49 PM

    Rainbow rolls

  • jmay42066  on  3/28/2018 at 11:00 PM

    Sautéed squash with basil and peanuts (Bi do xao dau phong)

  • Jostlori  on  3/28/2018 at 11:02 PM

    Mushroom Powder! How easy is that?

  • AnnaZed  on  3/29/2018 at 1:30 AM

    Ground sesame seed salt (Muoi me or vung)

  • t.t  on  3/29/2018 at 2:08 AM

    Black pepper soy glazed nori tofu roll

  • peanutbrittle  on  3/29/2018 at 2:13 AM

    I can imagine the mushroom powder will become a favourite ingredient for me and not just for Vietnamese recipes.

  • SFBayou  on  3/29/2018 at 8:01 AM

    Mushroom powder

  • SujataNaik  on  3/29/2018 at 8:02 AM

    Banh mi sandwich

  • MaineDruid  on  3/29/2018 at 8:54 AM

    Stir-fried romaine lettuce with tomatoes and peanuts sounds like a delicious solution to the excess romaine problem I have every growing season. It's good to have alternatives to salad.

  • sipa  on  3/29/2018 at 10:10 AM

    I really like tofu skin so I would have to make Crispy tofu skin strips

  • AlisonL  on  3/29/2018 at 10:56 AM

    Mixed mushroom rice porridge with bitter greens sounds yummy. This looks to be a very interesting book!

  • Steben  on  3/29/2018 at 11:02 AM

    Hot and sour tamarind soup

  • Sfgordon  on  3/29/2018 at 12:18 PM

    I'd love to try sticky rice with mung bean powder and crispy shallots (Xoi xeo chay). Sounds very unique and tasty!

  • lean1  on  3/29/2018 at 12:19 PM

    I would love to make Hot and sour thai style noodle soup.

  • sarahawker  on  3/29/2018 at 12:37 PM

    Stir-fried tofu with lemongrass and chile

  • kitchen_chick  on  3/29/2018 at 1:12 PM

    Tofu skin sausage - I love tofu skins!

  • janv  on  3/29/2018 at 6:46 PM

    Coconut cream coffee granita (Sinh to cot dua ca phe) (page 273)

  • Laura1  on  3/29/2018 at 6:47 PM

    Vermicelli noodles with fresh turmeric, tofu, and Chinese chives

  • centraljersey  on  3/29/2018 at 6:54 PM

    Tofu with tangy ginger lemongrass tamarind sauce

  • kmn4  on  3/29/2018 at 7:44 PM

    Lychee basil seed drink

  • purpleshiny  on  3/29/2018 at 8:53 PM

    Portabella mushrooms with 5 spice glaze

  • lcomer  on  3/29/2018 at 10:43 PM

    Preserved salted limes! Why have I not thought of this.

  • Nancith  on  3/30/2018 at 12:06 PM

    Squash & sweet potato coconut milk soup--I've been waiting for a book like this a long time!

  • Dannausc  on  3/30/2018 at 5:20 PM

    ground sesame seed salt

  • contest718  on  3/30/2018 at 8:07 PM

    Lemongrass chile satay

  • Aproporpoise  on  3/30/2018 at 9:23 PM

    Toasted sesame rice crackers

  • finnsmom64  on  3/31/2018 at 9:50 AM

    soy glazed eggplant w/ lemongrass & chile

  • kennethjohngilmour  on  3/31/2018 at 2:51 PM

    the pickled carrots and daikon sounds interesting found on page 47 so would like to try that

  • Karla123  on  3/31/2018 at 6:27 PM

    Cucumber pineapple rolls with coconut soy sauce...love all these Asian flavors.

  • HelenB  on  3/31/2018 at 9:39 PM

    Everyday table sauce

  • LaurenE  on  4/1/2018 at 1:55 PM

    pomelo salad

  • Shelley.b  on  4/1/2018 at 3:30 PM

    Rainbow rolls

  • fbrunetti  on  4/1/2018 at 7:58 PM

    Savoy cabbage tofu parcels in broth

  • Jenamarie  on  4/2/2018 at 9:31 AM

    Crispy tofu skin sticks

  • love2chow  on  4/2/2018 at 11:19 AM

    Tofu skin sausage (Cha [gio] lua chay) Nori-wrapped tofu roll (Ca chien chay) Cucumber and shredded tofu skin salad (Goi dua chuot dau hu ky)

  • sgump  on  4/2/2018 at 5:41 PM

    The bright green herby omelet (trung ga ngai cuu) sounds nice!

  • Uhmandanicole  on  4/3/2018 at 4:35 AM

    Aromatic cellophane noodle roll-ups

  • lindaeatsherbooks  on  4/3/2018 at 6:59 AM

    I would like to make Fragrant lemongrass Hue-style noodle soup (Bun bo hue chay).

  • lgroom  on  4/3/2018 at 1:01 PM

    Lychee basil drink

  • verorenee  on  4/3/2018 at 4:56 PM

    Lemongrass chile satay

  • Sakurajima  on  4/4/2018 at 1:04 AM

    I'd love to try the mushroom-stuffed tofu pockets in tomato sauce

  • EmilyR  on  4/5/2018 at 2:33 AM

    Green mango rice paper ribbons (Banh trang tron chay)

  • clairew137  on  4/8/2018 at 10:19 AM

    Mushroom Powder!

  • Teruska  on  4/8/2018 at 5:16 PM

    We make mushroom powder (and others). I think my first attempt from this index is Wild mushroom and leafy greens noodle soup ~ vegetarian and some serious umami!

  • dmass  on  4/9/2018 at 12:07 PM

    crispy egg noodles

  • AnnaZed  on  4/14/2018 at 1:31 AM

    Mushroom powder

  • Elena Rose  on  4/14/2018 at 4:50 PM

    Lemongrass chili satay

  • tinaellen  on  4/15/2018 at 3:09 PM

    Nutty mushroom pate would probably be my first choice!

  • rachael_mc  on  4/15/2018 at 6:33 PM

    Fresh Swiss chard rolls (Cuon diep chay) - amazing!

  • NaomiH  on  4/16/2018 at 9:16 AM

    Banh mi sandwich (Banh mi chay)

  • robynsanyal  on  4/18/2018 at 1:31 PM

    Black pepper soy glazed nori tofu roll

  • culinary_cam  on  4/18/2018 at 2:05 PM

    Nutty mushroom pâté

  • megans608  on  4/18/2018 at 2:58 PM

    The crunchy lemongrass mushroom rice bowl sounds amazing!

  • Angryyew  on  4/18/2018 at 3:14 PM

    Banh mi

  • munki  on  4/19/2018 at 4:14 PM

    Silky rice porridge (Chao).

  • VeryVigario  on  4/19/2018 at 9:31 PM

    Hot and sour Thai-style noodle soup- sounds delicious!

  • Coffeebean  on  4/20/2018 at 7:13 PM

    Mushroom powder

  • ADeeRD  on  4/20/2018 at 9:52 PM

    I would like to try the sesame rice crackers

  • sequoia55  on  4/21/2018 at 1:21 AM

    pickled carrots and daikon

  • PeavineBlues  on  4/21/2018 at 8:14 AM

    Crisp tofu

  • tararr  on  4/21/2018 at 11:30 AM

    Banh mi

  • rstuart  on  4/21/2018 at 2:09 PM

    The tofu with fresh tomato sauce: loved that in Vietnam!

  • ohyoucook  on  4/22/2018 at 6:52 AM

    Tofu with Fresh Tomato Sauce. Always on the lookout for good tofu recipes.

  • RickPearson54  on  4/22/2018 at 9:28 AM

    banh mi

  • ktpotat  on  4/22/2018 at 6:12 PM

    Crispy fried shallots

  • shaunterria  on  4/23/2018 at 10:13 AM

    Rich vegetable stock

  • Siegal  on  4/24/2018 at 11:02 AM

    Lychee basil seed drink sounds great

  • KarenDel  on  4/25/2018 at 2:20 PM

    Tofu skin sausage

  • PeavineBlues  on  4/26/2018 at 7:21 AM

    Fresh spring rolls

  • Chaseven  on  4/26/2018 at 9:45 AM

    Rice porridge with squash, kidney beans, and corn

  • trudys_person  on  4/27/2018 at 7:58 PM

    Warm banana coconut tapioca pudding (Che chuoi chung) !

  • Katiefayhutson  on  4/27/2018 at 10:31 PM

    Coconut cream coffee granita

  • juazella  on  4/27/2018 at 11:29 PM

    Squash and sweet potato coconut milk soup

  • PennyG  on  4/28/2018 at 3:51 PM

    Fragrant lemongrass Hue-style noodle soup (Bun bo hue chay) sounds delicious!

  • MiMi60  on  4/28/2018 at 9:27 PM

    Quick pickled carrots

  • motherofpearl81  on  5/1/2018 at 11:47 AM

    Magenta beet tofu soup

  • madelainelc  on  5/1/2018 at 12:19 PM

    Hot and sour Thai style noodle soup

  • sipa  on  5/2/2018 at 10:11 AM

    Crispy tofu skin strips

  • patioweather  on  5/3/2018 at 8:00 AM

    Bun chay

  • orchidlady01  on  5/3/2018 at 9:51 PM

    Quick pickled carrots

  • auntietina  on  5/9/2018 at 12:03 AM

    The Magenta beet tofu soup sounds interesting.

  • Wojtanowski  on  5/10/2018 at 8:48 AM

    love mushrooms...Nutty mushroom pate is a must

  • Veestar14  on  5/10/2018 at 12:14 PM

    Green papaya salad.

Post a comment

You may only comment on the blog if you are signed in. Sign In

Seen anything interesting? Let us know & we'll share it!

Archives