by Pauline Nguyen, with recipes by Luke Nguyen and Mark Jensen
Mon 14 Sep 09
I adore Vietnamese food. Happening across The Red Lantern in Sydney's Surry Hills was one of the culinary highlights of my 2004 visit to Australia. The dishes I sampled there were handled with a lightness of touch and balance of flavour that I've rarely experienced outside of South-East Asia.
Imagine my delight, then, upon being presented with this beautiful book. As well as a substantial collection of recipes from the team behind the food served at the Red Lantern, the book provides a chronicle of the Nguyen family's journey from war-torn Vietnam as they create a life for themselves in Australia. Whilst not a literary masterpiece, Pauline Nguyen's deeply personal writing provides an engaging insight into the struggle faced by the Vietnamese emigrants both within their troubled region at that time and as they assimilated into a new way of life.
The story enriches the enjoyment of the eminently cookable recipes that are presented alongside. The well laid out and enticing recipes demystify the preparation of Vietnamese food in such a way that even a European amateur like me can turn out delicious and authentic dishes - the likes of Chicken Thighs with Tamarind and Sesame, and Crispy-Skinned Fish with Ginger and Lime Fish Sauce are now regular dinnertime favourites in our house.
Finally, I'd like to mention the book's production. Seldom have I seen such a beautifully designed and presented cookbook. I may eventually resort to purchasing a second copy as my exisiting one has suffered terribly due to regular use in my kitchen!
You can find this book on Amazon - Secrets of the Red Lantern: Stories and Vietnamese Recipes from the Heart