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Secrets of the Red Lantern: Stories and Vietnamese Recipes from the Heart (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 1. August 2008

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Pauline Nguyen and recipe writers Luke Nguyen and Mark Jensen are the proprietors of the respected Red Lantern restaurant. They live in Sydney, Australia.

Pauline Nguyen and recipe writers Luke Nguyen and Mark Jensen are the proprietors of the respected Red Lantern restaurant. They live in Sydney, Australia.

Pauline Nguyen and recipe writers Luke Nguyen and Mark Jensen are the proprietors of the respected Red Lantern restaurant. They live in Sydney, Australia.

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17 von 17 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Must have book for Vietnamese cooking enthusiasts and collectors 21. April 2009
Von DBucci - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts ( Was ist das? )
This is one of the most beautifully crafted books I have seen with a fabric cover designed to resemble silk. The thick pages are very pale gray with a silhouette pattern of leaves and branches in a slightly darker gray with a thin border near the top of the cherry blossom pattern from the front cover. But still the text has good contrast and is very easy to read. There is also a ribbon page marker.

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. Or the Soy and Honey Grilled Shrimp flavored with soy sauce, oyster sauce, honey, fish sauce, dried chile, salt and pepper. And there is a fabulous Vermicelli Salad with bean sprouts, cucumber, mint, lettuce, fish sauce dressing, scallion oil, fried shallots and roasted peanuts that is great with the grilled shrimp or the grilled, seasoned ground pork skewers.

There is a notice in the beginning of the book that states the recipes were created using Australian tablespoons that are four teaspoons rather than our three. For most recipes the difference will not be noticeable but you would need to adjust recipes using baking powder, gelatin, baking soda, small amounts of flour and cornstarch.

This cookbook may not be appropriate for those with a casual interest in Vietnamese cooking or someone who does not have access to even the most basic Asian ingredients.
But for collectors and cooking enthusiasts, those who want to expand their knowledge of Vietnamese culture, food and ingredients I highly recommend.
15 von 16 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
A rare privilege. 15. April 2009
Von B. J. Lewis - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts ( Was ist das? )
Before we get to the incredibly intimate biography of Ms. Ngyuen, bear in mind that as I write this, I'm sipping -- no, gulping -- my second batch in the last ten days of Pork and Watercress Soup (p.65). So simple, so good -- the first made with my own homemade chicken broth, the second with a supermarket broth. Of course, the homemade broth is the winner, but don't let that stop you from this incredibly easy, delicious soup. Two suggestions: First, do the skimming before adding any seasonings; second, grind your own pork if you have a food processor. I just realized that, in my long life, I have never bought supermarket ground pork -- those curlicues -- ugh!

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.

I must mention, despite the Australian vs. U.S. measurements hullabaloo in previous reviews, let's remember this is not rocket science. We're not talking about the precise measurements essential to baked goods. It was obvious when I looked at the amount of broth specified in the watercress soup that half of that large bunch I had purchased was an appropriate "handful."

Ms. Nguyen, once again, as an American reader, I thank you for sharing this remarkable book with us.
11 von 13 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Gorgeous, tasty, fascinating 30. Dezember 2008
Von Cynthia S. Froning - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
First off, this is one of the most beautiful cookbooks you will see. The artwork, photography, and layout are elegant and appealing. Fortunately, the contents live up to the presentation. The book is a combination biography of an immigrant family and cookbook and both sections are worthy. Nguyen tells the story of her family's journey from post-war Vietnam to Australia, with both the highs and the painful lows covered with grace and power. The recipes come from Nguyen's parents as well as her restaurant. So far, all of the recipes I have tried are excellent: clean, complex flavors and well-tested instructions. I wish I lived in a location more conducive to a cuisine based on fresh seafood, tropical herbs, and varied produce, but I have been able to achieve great results with substitutions from the local grocery store and a trip or two to the Asian market. I highly recommend this book.
5 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Beyond a Cookbook 1. Juni 2010
Von jaxx - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
If you're looking for a traditional cookbook that you can thumb through and pick out something for tonight's dinner, then this is not the book for you. This is a beautiful, heartfelt autobiography that takes you to the next level. It's an intimate family portrait, a painful journey and perhaps one of the best books of any category that I've ever read. It takes you well beyond simply a list of ingredients put together to make some dish. It's an explanation of how food plays such an important part in the lives of this family (and in turn an entire culture) that we're getting to know so personally. I don't think I've ever cried reading a cookbook before! But with almost every chapter, I feel my eyes welling up, and I often have tears running down my cheeks. I don't care if I never cook a recipe from this book (although I'm sure I will. I almost feel it's my duty!) Just reading it is enough.

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.
7 von 8 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Gorgeous, But Not A Happy Book 26. März 2009
Von Grandma - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts ( Was ist das? )
I acquired my first cookbook at the age of 7 and have been collecting them ever since. I particularly love ethnic cuisine and cookbooks of the family memory sort, so when I saw Pauline Nguyen's Secrets of the Red Lantern I was delighted. And make no mistake, this is a book that I will treasure - if for no other reason than that it is easily the single most beautiful cookbook that I've ever seen. So beautiful I would not dare to take it into the kitchen to actually cook with it.

But then, even were the book not almost too beautiful, I am not sure that I could take it into the kitchen to cook with it - at least not with ease. Nguyen has organized the recipes in her book around various time periods in her autobiographical tale rather than the more traditional salads, meats and desserts categorizations one might expect to find. If you are not very familiar with Vietnamese food in general and this book in particular, just finding the recipes that you want to try can be a daunting task.

There are several other difficulties that will be of importance to most cooks. The book was written in Australia and the recipes tested using Australian measurements. You'll find a note in the front of the book near the copyright notice warning you about the difference between an Australian tablespoon and an American tablespoon. It would seem to me that there are few enough recipes where this becomes an issue that the authors/publishers could have easily performed the conversions and edited the two or three pages for the American market just as they did the copyright page. American measuring spoons are, after all, readily available on the Internet.

Unless you live quite near a largish Asian community, many of these recipes call for herbs that you will not find easily. Because we love to cook and enjoy foods from many different cultures, we happen to have a spice collection that goes far beyond what most grocery stores offer, as well as an extensive fresh herb garden. Even so, Nguyen threw me a real curve ball with "rice paddy herb." I would have really appreciated a picture of that. She does provide the Vietnamese name of the herb, but my go-to source for Asian produce does not speak Vietnamese. And neither do I. I would also have really appreciated a pronunciation guide.

As my homeschoolers will tell you, I am a firm adherent of Brillat-Savarin's principle "tell me what you eat and I'll tell you who you are." You cannot obtain an understanding of history or culture without an understanding of the food. Any idea the reader might entertain that this book is about Vietnamese culture, however, would be far from accurate.

Any suggestions as to what might go well with what or what dishes might constitute an entire meal together are completely lacking. Nguyen tells us several times that her mother & father liked to throw parties where they invited so many people that they set up a buffet on the floor, and yet she never gives us a hint what foods might have been served. She mentions that her parents took but one day off a year - Lunar New Year - but never enlightens us as to what foods might have been served or customs followed on that day.

What Pamela Nguyen does give us in the prose that constitutes some half of the book is a tale of abuse and discord between father and daughter that many women of every culture will recognize immediately - and greatly sympathize with. It is essentially a catharsis, a very personal story, at least for the daughter. I cannot help but feel, however, that this story would have been better told separately. The juxtaposition of the daughter's hatred and anguish with the release of the father's treasured recipes is jarring to say the least, in a way that to me feels more like revenge than anything else. This is not a happy book
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