I had my first Vietnamese cookbook bought for me this Christmas. A truly amazing book Secrets of the Red Lantern: Stories and Recipes from the Heart (Pauline Nguyen), which is not only full of lovely recipes (with many photographs) but enticing information about Vietnam and the authors family history – documenting their escape from Vietnam and eventual resettlement in Australia. The Nguyen family went on to open the award winning Red Lantern restaurant in Sydney Australia. It’s a place I’d love to visit, maybe sometime in the future my culinary travels will take me there.
Ngon (tasty in Vietnamese) is probably the best way to describe this dish. Ca Ri Chay is a turmeric and lemon grass vegetarian curry, a real staple of Vietnamese cuisine and the recipe used was very traditional. Well no I’ll rephrase that, it was very traditional until I went and added some king prawns.
I would have been quite happy to leave this dish as the vegetarian meal it was intended to be, but in order to keep the family peace and use up some of the large Christmas shopping goodies the prawns went in. I have to admit though that they were a very tasty addition.
As the recipe was based around a pre-bought red curry powder it made the meal very quick and simple to prepare, a very express meal. Although if you wanted to spend a day in full chill-out kitchen mode you could make the curry blend yourself, I didn’t and used a paste bought from The Spice Shop.
I expected the curry to be very spicy, similar to Thai curries but it wasn’t so hot, just a warming melody of spices which made the mouth sing with each bite.