These Easy Healthy Vietnamese Recipes Will Elevate Your Weeknight Dinners
Upgrade your everyday cooking with these easy, healthy plant-based favorites from Vietnamese cooking expert Andrea Nguyen’s new cookbook, Ever-Green Vietnamese.
For decades, author Andrea Nguyen has championed unbridled Vietnamese deliciousness. Her seven cookbooks anchor the Vietnamese-American and pan-Asian culinary canon and are filled with recipes for dishes such as lemongrass pork chops, Vietnamese shaking beef, Chinese chiu chow dumplings, and hundreds of other preparations where flavor comes first. That’s a lot of recipes, a lot of recipe-testing—and a lot of eating. Such are the occupational hazards of being a prolific cookbook author. “You taste as you cook, when the dish is done, when it’s in leftover form,” says Nguyen. “And then you taste it to see how it is after being frozen.” In 2019 a health scare led Nguyen to an honest assessment of her diet, and a resolution to eat less meat and many more vegetables. The result is the excellent Ever-Green Vietnamese: Super-Fresh Recipes, Starring Plants from Land and Sea, loaded with dishes on par with Nguyen’s previous efforts but with, well, less meat and many more vegetables.
As in her other cookbooks, Nguyen plays the consummate teacher, front-loading the book with the essential pantry staples, shopping lists, and fundamentals written in an exacting yet accessible way that transform instructions into intuition (for example, the difference between “rippling and shimmering oil” and the benefits of each). You’ll find Vietnamese favorites like bánh mì, rice rolls, and stir-fries that are either vegetarian, composed nearly entirely of produce, or with animal protein playing a supporting role. Thus shaking beef becomes shaking salmon, with a hefty dose of greens and herbs; and spicy mushroom and cabbage slaw is an entirely meat-free, umami-packed alternative to Viet chicken salad.
While the health benefits of a plant-based diet are undeniable, Nguyen is quick to point out that this book is not just for health and that cooking and eating should be grounded in joy and celebration and above all deliciousness. “Vegetables are the source of so much creativity in the kitchen,” she says. “Meat you can manipulate in only so many beautiful ways, but the sheer variety of vegetables is infinitely inspiring.” Here we share three dishes from the book to inspire you, too.
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