From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In this moving culinary account of her family's immigration from their native Vietnam, restaurateur Nguyen of Sydney, Australia begins: "In my family, food is our language...when we cannot speak the words "I am sorry"-we give this bittersweet soup instead." Luckily, Nguyen is also skilled in written language; her moving, honest and painful story follows her family's dramatic exodus from their war-ravaged homeland to the safety of Australia. There, Nguyen's parents opened the restaurant that would give Pauline and her brother Luke the foundation for their current enterprise, The Red Lantern, one of Sydney's most popular dining destinations. Worth the price alone is Nguyen's masterful storytelling, including a warts-and-all look at her family and the immigrant experience. The book's arc is entirely film-ready; indeed, color images of people, places and dishes are striking. And then there's the recipes: more than 275 traditional Vietnamese dishes, all relatively simple to prepare (though some might require some tenacious shopping). Nguyen's wide net catches classic comfort food like Pho Bo Tai Nam, the traditional beef noodle soup, and slow-cooked pork shoulder; fish dishes like Crispy-Skin Snapper with Ginger and Lime Fish Sauce; easy appetizers like Tom Nuong (Soy and Honey Grilled Shrimp); and exotic fare like Durian Ice Cream. Whether you buy it for the story, recipes or both, this is an essential volume for those interested in Vietnamese cooking and culture.
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Secrets of the Red Lantern by Pauline Nguyen has been chosen by NPR food writer Susie Chang as one of the Best Cookbooks of 2008 --NPR.org
Whether you want amazingly accessible Vietnamese recipes or just a good, honest family story with food, this Sydney restaurateur delivers. --Epicurious.com
Pho-nomenal...astonishing. Pauline Nguyen has combined a book full of classic, meticulous Vietnamese recipes with a powerful personal memoir. --National Public Radio
275 traditional recipes...are almost a sidebar to the compelling story of escape, refugee camps and reconciliation. --Atlanta Journal Constitution
A beautiful, poignant book. Through memoir and with stunning recipes, Nguyen details her path from Vietnam to...her restaurant in Australia. --Minneapolis Star Tribune
Pauline Nguyen translates the pure, clean, exotic flavors of her native food into simple recipes for the Western kitchen. --Hartford Courant
A beautiful journey through Vietnamese history, culture, and tradition that cooks everywhere will embrace. --Globalgourmet.com