In my family, food is our language. Food enables us to communicate the things we find so hard to say." -Pauline Nguyen
Overflowing with sumptuous but simply prepared dishes that have been passed down through generations of the Nguyen family, Secrets of the Red Lantern is part Vietnamese cookbook and part family memoir.
More than 275 traditional Vietnamese recipes are presented alongside a visual narrative of food and family photographs that follows the family's escape from war-torn Vietnam to the successful founding of the Red Lantern restaurant.
At the heart of each recipe is the power of food to elevate and transform. From a recipe of cari de that sparks a memory to the distinctly bitter melon soup that says, "I'm sorry," Secrets of the Red Lantern shares the rich culinary heritage of the Nguyen family and their personal story of reconciliation and success.
Recipes like Bun Rieu (Crab and Tomato Soup with Vermicelli Noodles), Goi Du Du (Green Papaya Salad with Prawns and Pork), and Che Khoai Mon (Black Sticky Rice with Taro), unlock the family's secrets and see the family persevere through homesickness, heartache, and the upheavals of change to finally experience growth and celebration. The result is a beautiful journey through Vietnamese history, culture, and tradition.
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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.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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