Author: Shanthini

Hoi An’s Miss Lien Thao tops street food stakes

We found numerous recommendations for Miss Lien Thao’s street food stall on Trip Advisor and online so headed out from Hoi An’s bustling old quarter, across the Japanese Covered Bridge to find out for ourselves. The area across the bridge is known as An Hoi island and is where the night markets full more stalls selling cheap souvenirs, touristy bars and restaurants are located. We walked along the Hoai riverside which is all lit up with lanterns and light installations, away from the hustle and bustle to find a quieter row of street food stalls tucked at the end of the point. Here locals and streetwise tourists were tucking in to delicious local food at local prices. Miss Lien Thao herself welcomed us warmly and we were immediately seated at the end of a long communal eating table, sharing with another Australian family who were already tucking in to delicious looking dishes. The menu is enticing and we wanted to try local specialities…so ordered white rose dumplings, fried “open wontons”, beef noodles, stir fried chicken …

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Flavours of Hoi An at Home

After enjoying our dining experience at Home Finest in Saigon so much recently, we couldn’t resist dining at their sister restaurant Home Hoi An. Much more casual but still upmarket, the great news is that the menu, whilst including some of the nationwide favourites like Pho, includes Hoi An specialities with a focus on fresh seafood including crab, squid and prawns. We started with deep fried seafood spring rolls. We were expecting standard rice paper rolls but were surprised instead by a delicious concoction of seafood encased in crumbs and deep fried to perfection, served with a delectable dipping sauce. The presentation in miniature hanging baskets was also superb. For mains we opted for the grilled beef in piper lalot…thinly sliced beef grilled to perfection and wrapped in betel leaves with a topping of fried shallots, a Vietnamese speciality which we had not yet tried. We also had pork spareribs in black peppercorn claypot. We enjoyed both dishes but once again wished there were more of us to try some of the other specialty dishes …

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Brash and buzzy: Vietnam House, Saigon

Australian Luke Nyugen’s Vietnam House restaurant in the very centre of busy Ho Chi Minh City is an assault on the senses with bold Art Deco interior design featuring vivid colours and a buzzy atmosphere. It feels exactly right where it is located in the heart of the CBD surrounded by the glitz of the high end designer shops like Louis Vuitton and Gucci and 5 star hotels. The menu features Nyugen’s unique take on Vietnamese food that reflects the influences of growing up in Australia and his time spent in France through the use of imported herbs and ingredients, such as Wagyu beef, dill and salmon. We began with the much talked about soft spring rolls with sesame seared salmon and salmon caviar. The addition of the salmon caviar added delicious bursts of flavour to this entree and the flavour of the salmon went really well with the dill in the rolls. For mains we tried the much talked aboutBraised Wagyu Beef cheek in coconut juice, Phu Quoc green pepper, carrot, shallot served with …

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Home Finest, Saigon – a fine find indeed!

Managed to get a last minute booking into this highly recommended restaurant on TripAdvisor. It’s currently No 1 for Vietnamese food in Ho Chi Minh/Saigon and we can certainly attest to it’s well deserved reputation. Set in a stunning modernist French Villa and with classic interior design of dark wood/black furniture, white walls, glass and plants everywhere, the restaurant draws you in from the moment you arrive. Service is warm and welcoming. Anna who looked after us was very knowledgeable about the wine list and menu. She also told us a little about the villa and the local neighbourhood which was very interesting. The food though is definitely a stand-out. We started with a deliciously hot-sour seafood soup, which was tart and tangy but mellower than a Thai Tom Yum, served elegantly in a coconut. We accompanied this with crispy pork and prawn wontons, served with a divine dipping sauce. For mains we settled on stir fried duck with local basil and grilled eggplant with spring onion salsa with some plain rice. Both dishes were …

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Ban Xeo Saigon lives up to Bourdain

This street food outlet in District 2, Ho Chi Minh City was made famous by Anthony Bourdain https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=aI0u3eaQgcA in 2008. Renowned for their crispy Vietnamese rice flour crepes, Ban Xeo lived up to its reputation on our visit today. Of course it has now been discovered by tourists but the service and quality of the food has stood up to the test. The ladies are still out the front cooking up a storm over the wood fire and prices are extremely reasonable. We enjoyed the experience and loved the crunchy crepes filled with shrimps, pork and bean sprouts and served with a delicious fish sauce dip and a mountain of fresh lettuce and herbs. Get over the fact that it is now firmly on the tourist trail and try it when next in Saigon. https://m.facebook.com/banhxeo46adinhcongtrang/

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Roasted Cauliflower, Orange and Baby Spinach Salad

I could just eat a bowl of this salad on it’s own, but it was also delicious with orange glazed Salmon Fillets for dinner. The various elements – the caramelisation of the fried onion mixture, bite of the chilli, crunchiness of toasted almonds and sweetness of the oranges – result in a mouth-watering fusion of flavours and textures. Prep time: 5 minutes. Cooking time: 40 minutes Ingredients: Roasted Cauliflower 1/2 Head of cauliflower 1 teaspoon cumin powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons olive oil Onion Mixture 1 large brown onion, finely sliced 1-2 red chillies sliced 2 cloves garlic crushed 2-3 tablespoons olive oil Salad ingredients 2 cups baby spinach 1/2 cup almond flakes 1 orange peeled and separated into segments, seeds removed 1/4 cup coriander or mint leaves roughly chopped Salt and pepper to taste Method: 1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. 2. Remove outer leaves from cauliflower. 3. Mix together olive oil, cumin powder and salt. Rub this mixture all over the cauliflower. 4. Roast cauliflower for 25-30 minutes until cooked through …

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Fabulous Flathead at Saint Peter

If you want to eat seafood and fish like never before then Saint Peter in Paddington, Sydney is the place to go. We started with a delicious range of Sydney Rock Oysters, yellowfin tuna crudo and calamari salad with a hint of chilli and moved onto brilliant, creative mains. The fish and chips are in a league of their own but my BBQ Rock Flathead with a corn salsa was the winner in my books. Finished off with old school custard tart and chocolate tart…it was one of the best meals I’ve had in Sydney in a long time! The menu changes regularly as it is driven by the best seafood available. All the more reason to go often I’d say!! Make sure you book ahead. So absorbed in eating I forgot take more pics! Thanks Saint Peter https://www.saintpeter.com.au

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Indian Green Pork Curry with beans

This curry is inspired by Lamb and Spinach – another “green” curry that is a family favourite. The mint and coriander meld with the pork and other spices to create a deliciously fragrant curry. I add green beans for additional “greenness” and serve sprinkled with shards of fresh ginger for added zing, with basmati rice and sweet mango chutney. Prep time: 20 minutes Cooking time: 1 hr 10 minutes Ingredients: 500g pork shoulder diced (with or without bones) 1/2 cup white vinegar 3 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 large onion diced 5 cloves garlic and equal amount ginger 2 fresh red chillies Handful of curry leaves 2 sticks cinnamon (preferably bark) 3 cardamom pods 3 dried red chillies 1 teaspoon panch phoran (Indian Five Spice Mix) 1 teaspoon turmeric 1 teaspoon cummin powder 1 bunch coriander 1 bunch mint 1 teaspoon salt 2-3 cups water or chicken stock Extra ginger cut into fine strips and coriander leaves for garnish Method: 1. Place pork in a bowl and pour over vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon salt, set aside …

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French Classics at St Claude’s Sydney

Delicious dining and attentive service at St Claude’s in cosy surrounds in Oxford St, Woollahra. Lucky to have such top notch French menu on our doorstep now and bound to become a regular haunt. Scallop filled Zuchinni flowers, delicious soufflé, steak tartare, steak frites, and perfectLy cooked duck….we skipped dessert! Plus a great wine list and a daily Prix Fixe 3 course menu, St Claude’s is open 7 nights a week for dinner. Here’s Foodie Terry Durack’s review from the Sydney Good Food Guide https://www.goodfood.com.au/st-claudes-woollahra/st-claudes-20160125-49ix6 And here’s a link to their website http://stclaudes.com.au

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Victor Churchill – Haute Couture butcher in Sydney

Going to Victor Churchill’s “Haute Couture” butcher shop in Woollahra, Sydney is always inspirational and it is very difficult to leave without a delicious treat in hand. It is a total experience, being able to watch the master butchers at work and ogle the mind bogglingly array of super-delicious products. Or better still go home with some of it! Their is a special air drying room producing delicious charcuterie and their is also House smoked salmon and trout. If you are feeling really indulgent or running out of time, you can order home dining – certain cuts of meat and chicken are cooked on their rotisserie and word is that their roast potatoes are delicious. They also offer charcuterie platters. Their desserts are just as divine as the rest with mouth-watering meringue tarts and more to tempt. Today it was their Terrine de Campagne that enticed us. Here’s a taste of what you can expect. Or visit http://www.victorchurchill.com Definitely worth a visit especially if you are looking for the best quality meats and unusual cuts.

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Roast pumpkin, burnt broccoli and spinach salad

Cut pumpkin into even pieces, coat with olive oil. Add some herbs like rosemary and or thyme. Roast pumpkin until tender in 180 degrees Celsius oven, turn up to 250 degrees, add broccoli florets and grill for 8-10 minutes until broccoli starts to “burns”. Add to a bowl of baby spinach leaves and dress with salt, pepper and a swig of balsamic vinegar. Delicious with a well cooked steak or roast lamb.

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Puff pastry pot pies

This was easy as. Just cooked up a diced lamb filling with onions, tomato, garlic, white wine, pepper, mushroom, peas, spinach and herbs …then lined the little buttered ceramic pots with frozen puff pastry, filled the pots, topped with a circle of pastry, brushed with egg and popped in the 230 degrees Celsius oven for 15-20 minutes until puffy and golden. Quick and easy, perfect with salad but still warm and comforting. Reminded me of the recipe for Lamb Curry Pot Pies but simpler and …I like the puff pastry better.

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Smashed Roast potatoes with Greek Flavours

Made these smashed roast potatoes to go with a Greek Beef Stifado(stew) last night. The resulting lemony, garlicky, crispy potatoes were delicious and be great as an accompaniment any time. Thought I’d share for your enjoyment. Prep time: 5 minutes Cooking time: 35 minutes or so Ingredients: 8-10 baby potatoes 5 cloves of garlic Juice of 1/2 lemon 4 tablespoons olive oil 4-5 cups Water for boiling potatoes Salt Method: 1. Bring water to a boil with 1 teaspoon of salt in a large pot, ensuring enough water to comfortably cover potatoes. Add potatoes and garlic cloves. 2. Heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. 3. When potatoes are tender and starting to split, drain and allow to “dry out” for 5 minutes or so 4. Seperate garlic cloves from potatoes and place in a mortar and pestle. Mash garlic cloves then add lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper, and olive oil. Mix well together until a creamy vinaigrette is formed. 5. Cut or smash potatoes in dish and sprinkle vinaigrette …

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Twice cooked Szechuan Chicken

As a cold snap hits Sydney and winter settles in, this twice cooked Szechuan Chicken will give you just the right combination of heat and spice to warm things up. Whilst it might look frighteningly hot, the combination of Szechuan peppercorns, cayenne pepper, large sweet peppers, and dried chillies somehow combine into a delicious warm sweet spiciness rather than mouth-numbing torture! You can of course adjust the amount of heat by reducing the amount of Szechuan pepper, cayenne pepper and dried chillies you use but I would highly recommend trying this adapted recipe of mine to experience a more authentic version of the real thing. I also like using a combination of thigh fillet pieces with some small pieces of bone-in chicken such as small chicken wings but this is optional. Prep time: 30 minutes Cooking time: 35 minutes 500g skinless thigh fillets cut into pieces 2-3 small chicken wings cut into half 1 tablespoon Shaoxing cooking wine 1 tablespoon soy sauce 1/2 cup cornflour 1 teaspoon cayenne powder 1 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns, dry roasted …

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Durban-style Lamb and Cabbage Curry

This is another favourite amongst South African Indian families. It’s a great dish for a wintry Sunday like it is here in Sydney today. The sweetness of the cabbage permeates this dish and the resulting curry is somehow more fragrant and lighter than most lamb curries. Flavouring the oil through the gentle frying of the fenugreek, cummin and nigella seeds along with the cinnamon and curry leaves provides the basis for this. The addition of fresh and dried chillies add an extra warming spicy element but by no means is this required if you prefer a milder sweeter curry. The curry sauce is thinner than usual as well so rice is the best accompaniment, and Mint and Peanut Chutney is a delicious alongside it. I suppose this is the Indian version of Norwegian Farikal or Irish Lamb and Cabbage stew. Prep time: 20 minutes Cooking time: 1 hour Ingredients: 750g lamb cut into chunks, or for best results lamb chump chops with fat removed and diced keeping bones in 1 large onion chopped 1 tomato …

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Persian inspired Lamb Shanks with paprika, saffron and rosewater

This is my version of Persian lamb shanks slow cooked in a mixture of lime juice, orange juice, rosewater, saffron, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, paprika, pepper, thyme, garlic and saffron. The combination of spices and citrus permeates the lamb and the resulting dish is fragrant and delicious. Don’t be scared off by the long list of ingredients, the end result is worth the preparation and slow cooking. We had these with a spinach salad with orange segments and pomegranate seeds which complemented the flavours of the lamb perfectly. It would also go well with Caramelised Brussel Sprout, spinach and pomegranate salad. A definite new favourite winter comfort food dish! Preparation time: 1.5 hours Cooking time: 2-2.5 hours Ingredients: 4 frenched lamb shanks Powdered/ ground spices: 2 teaspoons cinnamon powder 1 teaspoon cardamom powder 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1 teaspoon crushed black pepper 1 teaspoon turmeric powder 2 teaspoons smoked paprika Fragrant mix: 2 teaspoons saffron threads 1 teaspoon rosewater Juice of 2 limes Zest of 2 limes Juice of half an orange Zest of 1 orange …

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Sri Lankan Chicken Curry

My friend Jennifer recently went to Sri Lanka and came back bearing gifts of Sri Lankan spices…a roasted fenugreek and mustard seed mix and a meat (Masala) spice mix. Looking for inspiration to use these spices I found a chicken curry recipe in Australian chef Peter Kuruvita’s recipe book, Serendip. This recipe is based on his with a few tweaks, it is really a 4 step process beginning with making the thickening mixture, marinating the chicken, getting the ingredients for the braising prepared and then actually cooking the curry. The result is a creamy curry with well balanced spice. Thanks Peter! Prep time: 30 minutes Cooking time: 25 minutes Ingredients 1. Thickening Mixture: 1 tablespoon long grain rice 2 tablespoons dessicated coconut 2 red chillies, chopped 1/2 teaspoon salt 3 green cardamom pods 2 cloves 2. Marinating mixture 1.5 kg chicken thigh fillets, fat removed and cut into medium size chunks 2 teaspoons cumin powder 3 teaspoons ground coriander 2 teaspoons chilli powder 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder 1 teaspoon roasted fenugreek and mustard seed mix …

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Monkfish with dill, chilli potatoes and watercress

This is my twist on the Rick Stein classic dish of monkfish, potatoes and watercress. The addition of my favourite ingredients – chilli and garlic – plus the dill spices it up and adds delicious flavour. The texture and flavour of monkfish, which is also great in curries, works well with this combination, with a squeeze of lemon brightening up the whole dish at the end. Prep time: 5 minutes Cooking Time: 35 minutes Ingredients: 2 medium size potatoes, peeled and cubed 3 cloves garlic, finely sliced 3 whole red chillies 1/2 bunch fresh dill tough stalks removed and finely chopped 1 bunch watercress (about 4 or 5 cups when cleaned and chopped) 2 fillets of monkfish (about 500g) Olive oil Balsamic vinegar 1/2 lemon cut into half again Salt and pepper Method: 1. Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. 2. Bring a pot of salted water to boil, add potatoes, garlic and while chillies and boil until potatoes are just cooked, about 8-10 minutes. Darin and leave to dry out. 3. Meanwhile, pat monkfish …

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