Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Cooking Vietnamese

Secrets from My Vietnamese Kitchen

Simple Recipes from My Many Mothers: A Cookbook

by (author) Kim Thúy

Random House Canada
Initial publish date
Apr 2019
Vietnamese, Asian, Southeast Asian
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2019
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


A warm and welcoming introduction to a vibrant cuisine, with more than 50 easy to make recipes from internationally bestselling novelist Kim Thúy.

Between careers as a lawyer and an acclaimed novelist, Kim Thúy ran a celebrated restaurant called Ru de Nam in Montreal. Now, in her first cookbook, Kim combines her beautiful storytelling style with simple and wonderful recipes that are full of flavour: surprising yet comforting, and easy enough for every day. Welcoming us into her close-knit circle, she introduces us to her mother and five aunts, each with her story, each with her secrets, told through the food of the country they had to leave, Vietnam.
    Starting with easily-prepared base ingredients of sauces, quick pickled vegetables and toasted rice flour, we move on to soups, sautés, vegetables, grilled foods, desserts and more. Sample recipes include: Stuffed Squash Soup; Vermicelli Bowls; Caramel Pork; Calamari, Pork and Pineapple Stir-fry; Fried Lemongrass Fish; and Vietnamese Tapioca and Banana. Also, in collaboration with sommelier Michelle Bouffard, Kim suggests wine pairings for these Vietnamese dishes.
     Kim says that Vietnamese often display their affection more easily with food than with words. This exquisite book deliciously demonstrates that every meal is an opportunity to show love, and to be grateful for those who sit down to eat with us.

About the author

Contributor Notes

Born in Saigon in 1968, KIM THÚY left Vietnam with the boat people at the age of ten and settled with her family in Quebec. A graduate in translation and law, she has worked as a seamstress, interpreter, lawyer, restaurant owner, and commentator on radio and television. She lives in Montreal and devotes herself to writing.

SHEILA FISCHMAN is the award-winning translator of some 150 contemporary novels from Quebec. In 2008 she was awarded the Molson Prize in the Arts. She is a Member of the Order of Canada and a chevalier of the Ordre national du Québec. She lives in Montreal.

MARIE ASSELIN is a food writer, translator, recipe developer, stylist, and culinary teacher who is based in Montreal.

Excerpt: Secrets from My Vietnamese Kitchen: Simple Recipes from My Many Mothers: A Cookbook (by (author) Kim Thúy)

From the Introduction

The moment you step inside a Vietnamese house, you are bombarded with variations on a single greeting: “Have you eaten?” “What would you like to eat?” “Come and eat.” “Just one little bite.” “The chicken I cooked is still hot.” “Here, try my cream puffs.”

We are not in the habit of verbalizing our joys, or even less, our affection. We use food as a tool for expressing our emotions. My parents don’t say, “We’ve missed you,” but rather, “We’ve made some spring rolls,” knowing that I love to eat them anytime, anywhere. Similarly, when I’m traveling abroad on a book tour, they will report that my sons had three helpings of everything, as a way to reassure me. On our visits to my grandmother in New York, my mother would stuff the trunk with her own mother’s favorite dishes. My father would laugh at her, but he still flies to Washington, D.C., and loads Vietnamese dishes into the trunk of the car that will take him to my uncle’s house in a remote part of Pennsylvania. That ninety-two-year-old uncle is my father’s older brother, who fed and housed him during my father’s time at university. My father considers him a father figure, and he tries to express his gratitude through the best sausage, the best lemongrass beef stew, the best steamed pancakes, the best sticky rice cake, and the best dried shrimp to be found in the Vietnamese markets.

In the refugee camps, my mother and Aunts 6 and 8 would do their best to transform the fish rations we’d receive six days out of seven in an effort to bring a semblance of normality to mealtimes. One day my mother was able to make a thin dough for dumplings. I remember very clearly how she was sitting on the ground with the cover of the barrel that we used as a water tank. She rolled out her dough on that rusty metal plate, which here and there still bore spots of its original yellow paint. The meal that followed was almost beside the point—we were just thrilled to see her cooking something other than rice and fish. It was a moment of togetherness, of celebration.

Editorial Reviews

“In her first cookbook, Kim combines her beautiful storytelling style with simple and wonderful recipes that are full of flavour: surprising yet comforting, and easy enough for every day.” –CBC Books

“Kim Thúy’s latest is her first cookbook, and yet it’s also part memoir, inspiring the reader to devour it cover to cover – it’s clear she’s not only a cook, but a celebrated writer.” –Julie Van Rosendaal, The Globe and Mail
"Thúy’s first cookbook is a tribute to all of the women in her life and a deep expression of how she expresses love through food." –Chatelaine

Other titles by Kim Thúy

Related lists