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Secrets of the Red Lantern: Stories and Vietnamese Recipes from the Heart Hardcover – August 1, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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
Top Customer Reviews
The book is part family memoir and part cookbook. The ten chapters are titled from the family stories with recipes contained within. The recipes are only loosely organized by type, though there is a recipe index in the back. Beautiful photographs throughout, family pictures and many but not all of the finished dishes.
There is a large variety of recipes, basic building blocks like stock, master sauce and scallion oil to an assortment of salads, soups, seafood, poultry, beef, pork, some goat and five desserts.
The recipes can contain unusual ingredients that are only available at a good Asian market. I enjoyed learning in particular about some of the fresh herbs I had seen in the markets but never knew how to use them because so many Asian cookbooks adapt the recipes to use more familiar ingredients. There is a limited glossary and suggested substitutions for some of the harder to find ingredients but no pictures of them so I did an internet search to learn what they look like and also other substitution ideas like using lemon basil for rice paddy herb.
There are also many recipes that require only basic ingredients available at any market like the sublime and comforting Caramelized Ginger Chicken that uses only fish sauce, ginger, garlic, red chile, sugar, onion, chicken stock, scallion and cilantro.Read more ›
And before I continue with the recipes, I must tell you that I found the autobiographical section remarkable, informative and, in the end, quite uplifting. The author's tale of her life's journey is almost embarrassing in its honesty. She relates a story of incredible hardship and sorrow that we here in America seldom, if ever, have experienced. I feel privileged that she shared her story with me. Here's looking at you, kid!
Okay; back to the recipes. The caramelized white perch (p.95) would have been delicious had I had decent fish. So should I recommend it as a way to dress up something basically awful? No; it's such an easy method and so good that one should honor it with a really fresh fish.
The third recipe I tried was the shrimp with tomato, fish sauce and black pepper (p.60). In spite of the frozen supermarket shrimp I used (I know -- and I agree) it was so good that I ate one and a half portions at dinner, and could hardly wait to eat the leftovers the next day for lunch.
I have marked eight recipes to try in the future. I know they will be good.Read more ›
I think that to truly understand the food from another culture you have to understand that culture -- especially one where food plays such an important part. Vietnamese food is very complex -- even more so with so many Vietnamese living so far from their homeland. This book will help you understand the culture and the history -- as well as the food -- just a little bit more.
If you cook a lot and have accumulated a lot of books, then you're probably at the point where you're looking for something more. This is that book -- and much, much more.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Cool book. Great recipes that are pretty authentic (I grew up eating Vietnamese food that my grandma, mom and dad cooked). Read morePublished 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
This is for a gift and it is a nice hard cover book. I think she is going to love it!Published 11 months ago by Sandra
One word to describe this book: LOVE. The recipes are reasonable to follow and the story line is wonderful. Read morePublished 15 months ago by HeatherO
I love the way the book is design, it's so aesthetically pleasing not only to the eyes but to the palate. Read morePublished on April 22, 2014 by Nien-Hoa Lu
Well written and interesting. We are big fans of Luke Nguyen and now his sister. We plan to go page by page and try our luck.Published on March 5, 2014 by R. Geisheimer