Premade simmer sauces have become a big thing for shortcutting Indian cooking at home. Now, Charles Phan, the founder and chef at the Slanted Door restaurant in San Francisco, has taken the same approach to Vietnamese fare. He has introduced four braising sauces, two for quick stir-fries and two for slower simmers; each comes with a simple recipe based on one of the restaurant’s dishes, usually using at least half the jar of sauce. For many seasoning purposes, I liked the nubbly, spicy-sweet chile caramel sauce, recommended for a shrimp stir-fry, but superb with eggplant, chicken or pork belly. The Claypot Chicken quick-braising sauce and Lo Soi Pork sauce for a slow braise were dark, fairly thin and spicy. The ruddy, viscous Vietnamese French braising sauce was quite sweet and to me, less appealing than the others.
The Slanted Door braising sauces, $16.95 for 15.5 and 16.75 ounces (depending on variety), Williams Sonoma stores, 877-812-6235, williams-sonoma.com.