Cooking Grilled Vietnamese Fish and Eating at Red Lantern Vietnamese

June 12, 2010 § Leave a comment

Thomas H. Palmer first said, “if at first you don’t succeed try, try again” to encourage American schoolchildren with their homework. Well, feeling somewhat like a child myself this week by only drinking milk that had been disguised with vanilla flavouring, I have now found a soy milk that I like! Persistence pays off it seems! The champion of my kitchen is So Good Lite Soy, which actually tastes pretty close to real milk when it’s cold (but something changes in the taste when it’s heated and I still don’t like it in my tea). What a breakthrough for the week!

I have also found a recipe for almond milk which I will try over the next couple of days, I bought my big bag of almonds yesterday, it’s not cheap to make but per litre the drink is $5.50 so I may as well try my own! Will keep you posted on how it goes!

On Thursday night I cooked a divine Vietnamese dish using coconut milk – the recipe called for coconut cream but Dairy Free For Dummies warned that coconut cream often contains milk solids, and while the ingredients in a jar of Ayam coconut cream seemed fine (coconut kernel extract, water, vegetable gum) I still used lite coconut milk.

Here is the recipe:

Cha ca (Vietnamese grilled fish)

In a food processor: 3 garlic cloves (chopped), 5 cm piece ginger (peeled, chopped), 3 long red chillies (chopped), 2 tbs fish sauce, 2 tsp ground tumeric, 1/2 red onion (thinly sliced) – blend all with 2 tbs water to form a smooth paste.

Heat 2 tbs sunflower oil over medium heat, fry the other half of the red onion (thinly sliced). When soft and slightly golden, add 1/2 cup chopped dill and paste, then simmer, stirring occassionally for 10 minutes.

Add 400ml coconut milk, and simmer for 18-20 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened and reduced by a third. Stand at room temperature for an hour or chill on fridge overnight to allow flavours to develop (I didn’t do this and it was still fine!)

Heat paste (if you let it stand) and add 600g ling (or other skinless white fish fillets) – cut into 3cm cubes. (I had chicken thighs in the freezer and used them instead, worked well). Coat meat with sauce and allow to cook for 5-8 minutes. Squeeze the juice of 2 limes and stir through. (Here I added a handful of snow peas, 1 thinly sliced red capsicum and 1 head broccoli that I had partially cooked in the microwave).

Serve with 200g rice vermicelli noodles or brown rice (1 cup uncooked rice = 4 serves) and mint sprigs, coriander, thinly sliced red chilli, chopped peanuts.

Coconut milk chicken with brown rice - Dairy Free

On the Vietnamese theme, NB and I ate at Red Lantern on Crown St last night, somewhere I had been dying to try for ages! And I’ll admit that I did fall off the band wagon and knowingly ordered dishes that contained dairy…Sorry! I’ll add another two days on the end of my DF week to make up for it!

On the plus side, the dinner was fantastic! I am a huge fan of Vietnamese, the flavours are so fresh and clean, and this place was a real stand out. Fortunately we were able to get a table straight away when we arrived at 8:30, last time we tried to go the wait was going to be over 90 minutes. The waitstaff were friendly and efficient and it didn’t take long to decide what to eat.

We started with fresh rice paper rolls with duck and enoki mushroom and a couple of triple 3 beers. Unfortunately for NB they didn’t have soup, although the waiter said everyone had been asking so maybe they’ll make some changes for the winter. We  also missed out on the last of the scrumptious looking specials, but not to worry, it’s just another excuse to go back.

In the end we ended up with masses of food in three dishes:

  • Ga Chien Don (crisp skinned pasture raised chicken)  – oh my goodness, that skin, there had to be butter involved in getting it that crispy!
  • Bo Luc Lac (cubed pasture fed Black Angus sirloin tossed in a flaming wok with garlic butter and sesame),
  • Rau Cai Xao Lang (organic seasonal wok fried vegetables with rice noodles), which impressed NB – fried rice connoisseur – more than he was expecting!

I also had one of their signature cocktails, with blended lychee and soursop – amazing – and nicer than the lychee cocktail that I tried from Longrain. Also, I saw that if you go with a group of four or more you can order a fantastic looking tasting menu for $55 a head. Overall, highly recommended!


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