Not much beats a delicately fragrant bowl of pho, but perfecting the broth is a lengthy, tricky process more suitable to a whole weekend than a Monday night, when time is everything. If you’re craving the comfort of Vietnamese flavors anyway, start with some ingredients you likely already have stashed in your pantry and work forward from there.

Here are some quick and simple Vietnamese recipes that should do the trick on any night of the week.

Diana’s Caramel Shrimp, pictured above. Who is Diana? Diana My Tran wrote one of the first Vietnamese cookbooks (simply titled “The Vietnamese Cookbook”) in the U.S., and this caramel shrimp is her favorite recipe, born out of a desire to re-create foods she missed after arriving in America. Sweet, sticky and spicy, these shrimp shine over a simple bowl of rice.



(Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)

Braised Short Ribs with Star Anise and Lemongrass. Cookbook author Andrea Nguyen got this recipe from her mother. The variation on the southern Vietnamese stew, bo kho, is just the opportunity to put your Instant Pot to work for fall-off-the-bone ribs. This dish just begs for some noodles to lap up the sauce.



(Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post)

Vietnamese-Style Fish. This fish dish is similar to Diana’s caramel shrimp, but leans on fish sauce for some funk. Served with green beans and torn mint leaves, the Dinner in Minutes pick takes the sweet nuoc mau (sugar water) sauce often found in Vietnamese street food and simplifies it.



(Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)

Che Bap (Sweet Coconut Tapioca Soup With Corn). Cool and bright, this dessert soup makes use of the corn you’ve got in your freezer for something a lot more interesting. It’s quick, but make sure to set aside time to let it cool all the way down into its pudding-y texture.



(Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post)

Vibrant Turmeric Coconut Rice. You could make rice, or you could make this fragrant, coconutty, bright golden rice instead. Serve with anything and everything.

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