Vietnamese delight – lazy Saturday

April 25, 2010

Bubbly to start a wonderful weekend. In the background Luke Nguyen’s beautiful cookery book about Vietnam

Finally, we had some rain on Saturday morning which might be an indication that a season’s change is in the making. Anyway, it was cooler than normal which needed to be celebrated with a Prosecco. That’s how it started. In the background there was music from the Skyehooks, a Melbourne cult band from the 1970ies. All four of us we were very relaxed, did’nt have to be anywhere, did’nt have to go anywhere, in short quality time.

The cooking started with us making our first fish sauce. We followed Luke Nguyen’s recipe. I will not provie it here but instead encourage you to buy the book yourself. It is called: “The Songs of Sapa” and is the most fascinating cookery book I have seen in a long time.

The fish sauce recipe of Luke Nguyen

This is what it looks like: The home made fish sauce

After that the fish cakes were made, also a recipe from the above book by Luke who has become a kind of celebrity chef in Sydney. Together with his sister Pauline and Mark Jensen he has his own restaurant called Red Lantern.

Fish cakes sizzling in the pan…..

…….and on the plate

Rice vermicelli

Fresh salad leaves

Voila: this is what it looks like on a plate

You do not need cutlery or chop sticks, no, just use your hand. get some vermicelli on the salad leave, take some fish cake and dipp it in the fish sauce: hmm. You will not believe me but this is the most delicious “finger food”. What we forgot in all our enthusiasm was the plate of mint leaves. We will try this next time.

My go at it

The last question: what about the wine? Well, I hose my favourite Riesling from Alsace, a simple ‘2007 Hugel Riesling’, a wine with zest and character, young and vibrant, a citrus bomb for the taste buds.

Hugel, one of my favourite Riesling wines from Alsace

If you have the chance to get your hands on Luke’s book, please do so. It is worth it. The recipes he has collected are wonderful. Vietnames cusine is light but at the same time filling. After this wonderful lunch we were not hungry until late in the evening.

And this is what the cookery book looks like:

The ultimate Vietnamese cookery book

March 21, 2010

Unfortunately, during my recent visit to Hanoi and Saigon I had no opportunity to check out the various culinary highlights of these fabulous places. I was part of a large delegation and had no choice regarding the food, or almost no choice. Not that we had to eat bad food. However, I could not explore the local cuisine. There are some truly extraordinary places to be found, from traditional Vietnamese cuisine to all kinds of fusion cooking.

“The Songs of Sapa” is the title of a Vietnamese cookery book which is most amazing. Luke Nguyen an Australian from Sydney whose parents came as boat people and refugees, has produced a marvelous book summarizing his various travels to Vietnam. He collected many recipes and reproduced them in this book. The pictures are outstanding, really.

Luke is very well known in Australia. He runs Red Lantern, a Vietnamese restaurant in Sydney. I would love to taste his cooking. For the time being I have to be content with the cookery book and because it is so magic, it will do for me here in Bangkok.