The Songs of Sapa

Nguyen, Luke

ISBN: 9781741964653

Publisher: Murdoch Books Pty Ltd

Luke Nguyen is a chef and owner of the award winning Red Lantern restaurant in Sydney. He was also co author of the successful Red Lantern Cookbook. Luke was born in Thailand and brought up in Sydney's in the predominately Vietnamese suburb Cabramatta. His family fled from Vietnam to Thailand as boat people, where they spent a year in a refugee camp, before settling in Australia. His parents ran a restaurant in Cabramatta for 15 years, and it was their passion and knowledge of food that kindled his love for Vietnamese cuisine.

Songs of Sapa isn't purely a cookbook, it is the story of Luke's tour of Vietnam through the people and it's cuisine. It does not glamorise the country, but tells a down to earth fascinating account of his culinary journey from North to South Vietnam. His experiences offer a greater understanding of Vietnamese culture and food, which are recounted with great passion. From his first taste of dog to downing a still beating heart of a snake in a shot of rice wine (the snake heart is believed to make men strong in bed.) His journey through his homeland brings Vietnam to life for the reader.

The food of Vietnam is rich and diverse with influences from some of the best culinary countries in the world, including, France, China and Japan. Vietnamese food is lighter and more refreshing than much of the food from East Asia with plenty of fresh herbs, soups and grilled dishes. Luke brings together over a 100 regional and family recipes, which he collected through his travels, to create a very different collection of Vietnamese dishes. From chewy and sticky 'Hue Prawn and Pork Sticky Dumplings' which he dined on after discovering two ladies in pink silk pyjamas kneading flour for dumplings in a narrow lane to 'Aunty Eight's Sweet Corn Pudding' cooked at her market place with her own corn.

This book offers a lot more than the average cookbook on East Asia, it has far more depth and truly regional recipes. Stunning photography throughout this book brings the people, sights and food to life. A beautiful book, with plenty of mouthwatering recipes and a thoroughly enjoyable read.