This paper applies the methodology of an ecological community analysis framework to the evaluation of a culturally important food recipe found in Vietnamese cookbooks from Vietnam (VN) and the United States (US). The recipe is for the popular Vietnamese dish sweet–sour snake–head mullet soup. The results show that the assemblage of plant species used in the recipes of the VN and US cookbooks are not identical with significant differences in the frequency of some plant–based ingredients. Re–evaluating the species composition of the dish to include the functions of flavor and texture used to create the structure of the dish shows that although the plant assemblage used in the United States is different, all of the traditional functions are maintained and the dish is perpetuated by being adapted for the new environment. The ecological community analysis framework allows for the identification of indicator species that contribute to the structure of dishes. The methodology may be used to design cookbooks for cultural groups living where their traditional food plants are rare or unavailable.
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