The food of Vietnam is widely recognised as some of the best in the world. Food personalities such as Anthony Bourdain have upheld it as their favourite. Renowned for its clean and crisp flavours, such as is evident in their national dish of pho and their fabulous street food, this is a culinary culture that deserves thorough exploration.
Luke Nguyen and his family are renowned for cooking some of the best Vietnamese food in Australia. His restaurant Red Lantern has received much critical acclaim since opening in June 2002.
Following the success of his first book Secrets of the Red Lantern where Nguyen explored the traditional dishes that have been passed on from his family and onto the restaurant menu, this book takes in a tour of the country that has inspired his vocation.
Starting in the hills of Sapa, Nguyen and his partner travel south through Hue and Hoi An, before heading on to Saigon where Nguyen joins his parents to explore the streets of their childhood and then on to the Mekong.
His culinary journey is complemented by his observations of the people and the culture. It is a true exploration of the mixed emotions that play on those who have their heart in two countries. Ngyuen feels his heritage in Vietnam, with the people, the language and the food, yet each discovery is new, each experience tugs at the heart and brings questions to the surface "would this have been my life?” “Is this where that dish came from?” The stories he tells are personal and thought provoking.
We particularly loved the Vietnamese proverbs that are scattered throughout the book “If a father eats only salty foods his whole life, then his son will always go thirsty” (if a parent leads by good example, the children will follow suit).
Alongside the ubiquitous pho, recipes such as the pork neck in lemongrass and chilli and the baked banana cake are sure to become favourites. There are also many dishes for the serious Vietnamese cook, with obscure ingredients such as lily flowers, dropwort and cassava, that will have you scurrying to the local Asian market.
Published October 2009 (UK October 2009)
344 pages, hardback with jacket
215 x 260mm
AU $69.95 (UK £25)