Luke Nguyen inspired Split King Prawns

A few years ago I was gifted Luke Nguyen’s France cookbook which has some great cross-cultural French and Vietnamese recipes in it.

My version of this recipe is easy and great for entertaining if you do the prep beforehand as it just requires quick shallow frying at the end,

Splitting and flattening the king prawns before marinating them allows the flavours of the marinade to be absorbed by the prawns.

The addition of fish sauce to the marinade brings out the “prawnness” in the prawns when they are cooked, and using butter as well as oil to fry them in makes them super tasty.

In my simpler version, I don’t have some of the “fancier” ingredients such as kaffir lime leaves and perilla leaves which are a bit harder to get hold of. I substitute parsley or coriander to garnish, and add lime juice at the end. I also don’t bother to make the suggested vietnamese dipping sauce which is made from more fish sauce and lime juice as the juices from the pan are great with the extra lime juice added at the end.

Hope you like it!

Prep time including marination: 50-60 minutes Cooking time: 5 minutes
Ingredients:

1 kg green/raw king prawns
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 lemongrass white part only finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
2-3 red chillies chopped
3 tablespoons fish sauce
Juice of 1 lime
Parsley or coriander to garnish

Method:

1. Remove heads and veins from prawns but leave shells on. Split prawns down their backs using a sharp knife but make sure you don’t cut all the way through. You want to butterfly them so they can be flattened in their shells.

2. Put prawns flat with shell side up in a dish or tray and place baking paper over them and weigh them down to flatten. Leave in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.

3. Meanwhile make the marinade by crushing the lemongrass, garlic and chilli to a paste in a mortar and pestle or blender.

4. Combine paste with fish sauce and then coat both sides of the prawns in the mixture and leave to marinate for 20-30 minutes. (The prawns might close up a bit again when you do this.)

5. Heat oil and butter in a non-stick pan and add prawns cut side down first to cook over high heat, for 1-2 minutes pressing them down with a spoon or spatula to flatten them. Turn over and “scorch” the shells.

6. Squeeze over lime juice, transfer to serving dish with pan juices, sprinkle with garnish and serve with a salad and bread to mop up the delicious juices.

Taking it Slow at The Slow, Canggu

The Slow is one of a new breed of contemporary restaurants in Canggu that are setting the pace for modern dining in Bali. The venue itself has a light and airy feel with lots of greenery and hip art works creating a chilled but stylish vibe.

The menu is inspired by Chef Shannon Moran’s travels around the world and if the fish/soft shell crab tacos, fish of the day with Balinese sambas and Korean burnt broccoli are to go by…he has certainly nailed a whole of flavours very well.

The menu is designed for sharing and portions are generous. We stuck to “shit beers” as the menu humorously describes local Bintang beer on a scorching day, but the choice of wine and beers is good for those who want something a bit more refined.

We were there for a short lunch but the vibe and food would be very conducive to settling in for the afternoon of grazing or a big nosh up dinner.

The Slow also has an adjoining art gallery and very good looking accomodation if you want the full experience. It is about 15 minute walk from Canggu beach. Here’s a link to their website for more information https://theslow.id/eat-drink-at-the-slow/

Ji “Terrific” Terrace by the Sea, Canggu

Three years ago we enjoyed cocktails and dinner at the then newly opened Ji Restaurant, part of the Tugu Hotel in Canggu, in their original wooden temple building imported from Mainland China. Last night we returned to experience their newly opened Terrace overlooking the ocean and the perfect spot in Canggu to enjoy the stunning sunset over the Indian Ocean. The entire restaurant, bars and Terrace are beautifully decorated with Asian antiques and the atmosphere is quite unique.

As their website describes: “Ji Terrace by THE SEA carries the spirit of Tugu properties, which celebrate the rich cultural heritage and ancient history & legends through romantic atmosphere, interior and beautiful arts from ancient Indonesia and Asia, but what is different here is that the bohemian spirit of Canggu is very much alive. Beautiful statue of goddess of Durga from Rajasthan, centuries old urn from the Babah Peranakan family in Lasem, Java, Tibetan Mahakala masks, intricate Balinese Barong heads and many more artworks transport guests to a magical world of ancient kingdoms and quixotic legends, while seducing through beautiful Indian lanterns and sensuous beats of the best DJs on the island.

We started with delicious cocktails including the spectacular CoCo Sexo which is served in a coconut shell of dry ice and a tiki jar …with Sagatiba Cachaca, aromatic coconut, vanilla, passion fruit and a Timur with Tequila, Mango, Smoked Paprika, Beetroot shrub, lime, Cocktail syrup, Coriander.

Last time here we had enjoyed excellent sushi and our friends who had come for dinner the previous evening had once again recommended the freshness and creativity of the sushi and sashimi specialities of the Japanese fusion menu. We started with a selection of the chef’s choice Nigiri platter called Tic Tac Toe ..laid out like a noughts and crosses game. Every single offering was delicious and different with special toppings for each individual Nigiri including samples from the menu which can be ordered separately:

Tai Uzura – Seared snapper topping with breadcrumbs, parmesan and poached quail egg

Seared Gyuniku – Kobe style US beef with shoyu chimichurri sauce

Nihon Unagi – Grilled eel with grated ginger

Hotetaki – Scallion with seaweed & sambal matah

Sake Kyabia –Salmon with crème fraiche, green caviar & dill

It was the perfect way to try a wide range of the Nigiri on offer and at IR195 (about AUD20) extremely good value as well!

We added the Succulent Crispy Pork Belly with ginger, leek and scallion sauce and Amah’s Baby Back ribs served with Baby kalian, five spices and oriental molasses. Both of these were divine as well.

Great value, great atmosphere, great views, friendly and efficient service, and excellent food. Couldn’t ask for more and highly recommend a visit! So nice not to be disappointed on our second visit here.

Hurry into Uncle Chop Chop, NYC

Chop chop” means “hurry” and suggests that something should be done now and without delay.

Uncle Chop Chop is one of the hottest new restaurants in New York that is already attracting 5 star reviews from early visitors for very good reason. Opened by two brothers from Australia, Callum and Morgan, Uncle Chop Chop is a laid-back but sophisticated take on Asian Fusion in the heart of West Village.

Uncle Chop, Chop – 7 Cornelia Street, NYC https://www.unclechopchopnyc.com

The atmosphere is one of a buzzy buzzy Asian “chophouse” and bar and the style reflects the charming, laid-back hospitality of Australians. Here you can enjoy great food in a warm and relaxed atmosphere. Great for groups of friends!

The menu is a superb mix of salads, grills, appetisers and curries with the freshest ingredients and scintillating flavours. The accompanying sauces, jams and broths are perfectly balanced and add just the right touch of spice.

Dishes are generous and designed to share allowing diners to sample a wide range of the menu. Another reason why it is great for group dining.

We feasted on Green Papaya Salad with Scud Chili, Peanuts, Tamarind; Corn & Squash Fritters with Tomato Chili Jam, Iceberg lettuce; Dumplings with Rick and Morty Szechuan Sauce, Special Fried Chicken and Steamed Snapper with Bok Choy, Ginger-Soy Broth.

All the dishes were spectacular as were the cocktails, especially the Passion Pop with passionfruit pulp, cachaca and chartreuse.

And the Steam Date Pudding with Palm Sugar Syrup and coconut transported us back to Asia, it was a divine end to super delicious meal.

The service is friendly, fast and informative. Our waiter knew all about the menu and the ingredients and was able to guide us on how much to order. Mind you we were very full but very satisfied after our eating expedition.

In a city where Asian Fusion is not as easy to find as in Australia, Uncle Chop Chop is a standout!

So Chop Chop and hurry over ….bookings are essential already.

Uncle Chop, Chop – 7 Cornelia Street, NYC https://www.unclechopchopnyc.com

Wikipedia:

Chop chop” is a phrase rooted in Cantonese. It spread through Chinese workers at sea and was adopted by English seamen.[1] “Chop chop” means “hurry” and suggests that something should be done now and without delay. The word “chopsticks” likely originates from this same root.[2]

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 from Hoi An that are featured on the menu.

Once again no room for dessert unfortunately but you can be assured there are tempting items such as homemade tropical fruit ice-cream and roasted pineapple!

As with Home Finest, here in Hanoi Bao and his team deliver the goods with warm and attentive service and fabulous food.

Situated in the middle of the night time action on Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, Home Hoi An is a great place to stop for dinner as you explore the vibrantly lit streets that are night time Hoi An.

Easy to book on line and make sure you do as it is rightly busy and popular.

https://www.homehoianrestaurant.com

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