Skip to main content

Book Review: Secrets of the Red Lantern: Stories and Vietnamese Recipes from the Heart

I received Secrets of the Red Lantern by Pauline Nguyen as a Christmas present a few years ago from my mother-in-law; it has become one of my most treasured cookbooks. And it’s so much more than just a cookbook – Chef Nguyen has woven the stories of her family’s history into the pages of recipes and it makes for great reading curled up on a chair with a warm cup of tea. Here is a family that risked everything to escape Vietnam during the war and rebuilt their lives in Australia. Here is a family that set food as its centerpiece with each member of the family involved in restaurant operations. Here is a family, broken and bruised, held together at times only by their shared history and cuisine.

Aside from the compelling storytelling, Nguyen’s cookbook stands solidly on its authentic and well crafted recipes. All the traditional Vietnamese favorites are found within its pages and the flavors are bright and delicious. Some of my favorites include Nguyen’s family Pho recipe, Green Papaya Salad, and Grilled Pork Cutlets Marinated With Honey and Scallions.

Whether you are a seasoned home cook, well versed in Vietnamese cuisine or are just getting started, Secrets of the Red Lantern should be on your cookbook shelf. There are recipes here for every palate including vegetarian and gluten free. While some recipes have a lengthy ingredient list, all items can be found at your local Asian market and the preparations are easy to follow. Most of the recipes use low cost ingredients as well so the finished recipes are quite affordable.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Board Game Review: Brass Birmingham

Here’s a story of a lovely lady (spoiler: it’s me) and her pride and how it has led to the discovery of the single greatest board game I have ever played. It’s probably also a good primer for other reviewers on increasing your reach.At GenCon this year, I was perusing the wares of the various booths and my eyes caught a glimpse of two beautiful game boxes. Each had crisp metallic lettering with an old world feel and artwork that radiated European class. I made my way to the booth and waited patiently to speak to to the team manning it as there were many buyers lined up to purchase the games. I didn’t know anything about the games (Brass Birmingham and Brass Lancashire), or the publisher – Roxley Game Laboratory – but I knew I wanted to review one or both of the games. Almost every board game love story I star in in can be summed up this way: I am seduced by the artwork or theme and then I stay for the right mechanics. When the lead rep spoke with me, he gently rejected my request. He …

Board Game Review: Brass Lancashire

A few months ago, I fell in love with Brass Birmingham (you can read that review HERE). I fell hard. It was an all time top 10 best games ever kind of love and so when Roxley Game Laboratory offered to send me Brass Lancashire to play and share my thoughts, I was a bit hesitant.  Is there even a chance I could enjoy it as much as Birmingham? Lancashire was the original game designed by Martin Wallace, and while it’s been updated for the most recent release, I was concerned it might prove to be an older, tired version that couldn’t compete with Birmingham.

My concerns were unfounded. Brass Lancashire is fantastic. Playing Lancashire after playing Birmingham is a bit like dating someone and then dating their sibling. Sure, there’s a resemblance, but the kissing feels different.
The artwork for Brass Lancashire is beautiful, radiating a classic style evocative of the theme (industrial era production). The artists have shown great attention to detail such as the raised gold lettering on …

Board Game Review: Paper Tales

I received a copy of Paper Tales from Stronghold Games in December. My husband had expressed interest in the game, so I put it on my play list, knowing nothing about it, but trusting his judgement. When the game arrived, I was delighted with the clever artwork featured on the cover, which features a collage of illustrated figures set against a white background for contrast. It really stands out and is a striking example of paper craft.  The cards inside the box carry the same style of illustrations and are also intended to be reminiscent of paper craft, specifically, paper layering. It reminds me a bit of the style employed in the video game The Legend of Zelda Wind Waker. Fun fact: I actually took the time to look up the details on the CGI used in Zelda and I found out the designers used cel shading to give the artwork “a characteristic paper-like texture.” It’s pretty amazing when an artist can employ a technique that so perfectly evokes a style as intended that even those who aren’…