The Lunar New Year, called Tet in Vietnam, begins on February 1. As for what to cook, you can consider thit kho trung (extra special caramelized pork) or lil banh chung (rice cakes stuffed with pork, mung beans and shallots) from “The Red Boat Fish Sauce Cookbook “, which contains a chapter on holidays. There are plenty of more satisfying but less elaborate recipes in this book by the founder of the excellent Red Boat fish sauce company, Cuong Pham – written with a food writer and a chef – including Red Boat Quick Bacon; shrimp and green beans; broccolini with garlic sauce; and chicken soup with cellophane noodles. Some dishes stray from Vietnam, such as marinara pasta, to showcase the versatility of fish sauce. (Chicken wings for a crispy feast with a plating of tapioca starch might fortify during halftime.) There’s also a full rundown of homemade nuoc cham sauces and an ingredient guide. The story of Mr. Pham, his family and his essential condiment is woven throughout.
“The Red Boat Fish Sauce Cookbook” by Cuong Pham with Tien Nguyen and Diep Tran (Harvest, $25).