If your New Year's resolution involved being more adventurous in the kitchen, hold on to your toques -- Charles Phan is opening up his highly anticipated first cookbook, "Vietnamese Home Cooking," for you courageous, budding culinarians.
Phan is the acclaimed chef and owner of The Slanted Door, a modern Vietnamese restaurant in San Francisco, California.
"These dishes all have memories for me and my family and have become favorites for one reason or another. Don't be afraid to experiment with different cuisines at home, these are all very easy to make, " Phan said. "Go a step further with our wine or cocktail suggestions and everyone will think you're a professional and might not want to leave."
Five Vietnamese Recipes to Try At Home: Charles Phan
Editor's Note: The wine pairings are by Chaylee Priete, the Wine Director of The Slanted Door Group. And, the cocktail suggestions are by Erik Adkins, the Bar Director of The Slanted Door Group.
1. Fried wontons with spicy sauce
"I grew up eating wontons either with soup or as snacks like this one. They are crunchy, yet delicate. They are great for guests of all ages. I added spicy sauce as a kick, and those who like spiciness can ask for more."
Wine pairing suggestion: Jakoby Pur 2010 Riesling Kabinett (Mosel, Germany)
This is purity (no pun intended) incarnate. The length, zip and minerality of the wine doesn't overpower the wontons while the small amount of residual sugar cleans the palate and urges you to eat more. A father and son team (Pure Jakoby) making crystalline Rieslings.
Cocktail suggestion: French 75 (Cognac or gin, lemon, sugar and sparkling wine)
This cocktail is essentially a Collins lengthened with sparkling wine rather than soda water. The acidity and the bubbles really cut through fried food. There is a hint of sweetness that will take some of the heat off from the spicy sauce.
2. Spring rolls
"My mom's creation of homemade mayo makes them moist and irresistible. It fills up better if your guests are super hungry. Of course, don't forget the peanut sauce."
Wine pairing suggestion: Dr. Nagler Sekt Brut NV (Rheingau, Germany)
The spring rolls are bright fresh, crunchy and full of zippy mint. Choose a wine that matches all that freshness. This sparkling wine composed 100% of Riesling is the perfect aperitif and match. It's dry and minerally with a great liveliness to refresh the palate, but it doesn't overpower the summertime freshness of the rolls.
Cocktail suggestion: Bumble Bee (Jamaican rum, lime, honey, egg white)
This frothy, funky and honeyed cocktail can handle the enormous flavor of the spring roll's peanut sauce.
3. Shrimp and sweet potato fritters
"This is the best of both worlds. You have fried yam (an American favorite -- think French fries!) and fried shrimp (an Asian favorite -- think tempura!)."
Wine pairing suggestion: Wind Gap Pinot Gris 2010 (Sonoma, California)
Unlike many skin-fermented wines, this is soft and lush and without any harsh tannins. A gorgeous rose color with notes of unripened nectarine, it perfectly complements the natural sweetness of the yams.
Cocktail suggestion: Hotel Nacional Special
This is a lush Daiquiri variation from the National Hotel in Havana. We use a fruity Haitian rum, pineapple syrup and apricot brandy. This cocktail pairs well with the sweet shrimp and yams.
4. Hue dumplings
"These dumplings are like mung beans gummy bears. The texture and the sweetness of mung beans with the sauce make this snack my family's favorite. Serve them warm by putting one on each soup spoon with flavored soy sauce."