How Eric Banh Learned to Braise
Getting a chef to pick a favorite cookbook is like asking a parent to choose her most-loved child. But F&W pressed great cooks around the country to reveal their top picks of all-time.
The Chef: Eric Banh
The Book: Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, 1961
“I remember watching Julia Child’s cooking show in the early ‘80s when I first arrived here from Vietnam,” Banh says. “She was such a warm, nice human being. Now when I read her cookbook, I can picture her talking and hear her voice. And I learned a lot from the technique. For instance, there’s one dish that the Vietnamese do that I totally disagree with: pork shoulder cooked in coconut juice and fish sauce with literally no searing whatsoever. In Vietnam we don’t have ovens, so braising is not familiar to us. I learned to braise in the French technique, and the results are substantially better. Either you should cook something really fast or really slow. In between is a disaster."