In May 1975 my family walked into our first American supermarket, an Albertsons in San Clemente, California. We were refugees who’d just fled Vietnam’s political upheaval, and we quickly learned that grocery shopping in our new home would require certain compromises. One example: Fish sauce wasn’t carried at our local mainstream markets, and though soy sauce was, it wasn’t so good. My mom co-opted non-Viet ingredients to MacGyver her versions of Viet dishes, and she could often be found on the phone sharing her tips with other refugees.
Fast-forward 40-plus years: The supermarket landscape has changed entirely. Fresh turmeric, coconut water, and coconut oil may be considered trendy health-boosting ingredients to some. But to me, they’re classics and game changers for creating vibrant Vietnamese flavors. That accessibility made me realize that a wider array of Viet dishes can be part of the American table. Vietnamese food doesn’t have to be an exotic weekend project. As these recipes prove, it’s deliciously doable whenever you want.
Shrimp in Coconut-Caramel Sauce
My niece Paulina loves this savory-sweet comfort food dish from southern Vietnam, a region where cooks use lots of coconut milk and coconut water.
Recipe: Try Andrea's Shrimp in Coconut Caramel Sauce
Wontons in Gingery Broth
Recipe: Try Andrea's Wontons in Gingery Broth
Wrap It Up
To make wontons, you just fold store-bought wrappers around a tasty filling. Here’s how.
- Using a pastry brush or your finger, paint the edges of a wrapper with water.
- Place about 1 tsp. of the filling slightly off-center on the wrapper.
- Fold into a triangle. Press out air bubbles around the filling, then press to seal.
- Fold the sides toward the center. Dab with water and press to seal.
No-Churn Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream
Recipe: Try Andrea's No-Churn Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream
Hungry for More?
These recipes are from Andrea Nguyen’s newest book, Vietnamese Food Any Day. For even more ways to add a Viet vibe to your home cooking, pick up a copy.