Chopstick Cinema

Celeste Heiter's Adventures in Asian Food & Film

Searching for Recipes

As a jumping off place, I have chosen two books from my kitchen cookbook shelf to help me select my Vietnamese recipes and to design a menu to complement The Scent of Green Papaya. Those two books are: Essentials of Asian Cuisine by Corinne Trang, and The Asian Grocery Demystified, by Linda Bladholm. Of course, in the process, I will probably end up doing extra research on the Internet. There are so many millions of recipes on the Internet that it's a wonder anyone even bothers to publish a cookbook anymore.

My all-time favorite cookbook is The Joy of Cooking, followed closely by The Silver Palate Cookbook and the Moosewood Cookbook. But I don't think any of those three are going to yield much in the way of classic Vietnamese dishes. So that's where the Internet may come in handy. I also have to mention that I rarely follow a recipe to the letter. I have found that there are hundreds of variations on most traditional dishes, so what I usually do is research several dozen recipes to find out which one best suits my tastes and the ingredients I have on hand, and then I usually end up improvising. Occasionally, the results are disastrous, but more often, the end result is a delicious dish that I have imbued with my own personal touch. The only problem is that I usually forget to write down exactly what I did, so I rarely make a dish the same way twice. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. But I figure as long as it's tasty, attractive, and captures the essence of the cultural cuisine, then it's all good. I like to think of cooking as a perpetual adventure, and what better way than to try something new every time.