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Read All About It : From once-obscure Asian cuisines to classic French to the lastest grain craze, the variety of cookbooks available for gift giving swells as Christmas approaches. To help cull the best from the rest, The Times' Food Staff has reviewed the year's most intriguing cookbooks. : The Foods of Vietnam by Nicole Routhier (Stewart, Tabori & Chang: $35, 240 pages, illustrated).

December 17, 1989|BARBARA HANSEN

Not much information on Vietnamese cooking has been published, so those who have become acquainted with this light, vegetable-laden cuisine in restaurants should find this book interesting. The recipes cover many of the dishes commonly seen in Vietnamese eating places, among them pho bac, which is a north Vietnamese beef-noodle soup; cha gio (spring rolls), curry-flavored beef stew, grilled beef with lemon grass, charcoal broiled pork and, for dessert, fried bananas.

This is a luxury book in the Stewart, Tabori & Chang tradition, with expertly styled photographs. Handsome, expensive cookbooks are common now, but at least this one supplies information that is not easy to find elsewhere. Saigon-born Routhier, who is half French and half Vietnamese, lives in New York.

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