exciting and enticing
Bobby Chinn’s cookbook delights with an array of tempting Vietnamese dishes – and amusing anecdotes to boot.
Bobby Chinn’s cookbook, Vietnamese Food, delights with an array of tempting dishes – and amusing anectodes to boot.
Place the chicken wings in a bowl with the lemon grass. Cover with cling film, and leave to marinate for about three hours.
Whisk the oyster and chilli sauces together with 2 tablespoons water and the honey, and set aside. Preheat the barbecue. Score the wings to ensure they cook evenly. Place on the barbecue and cook for five minutes on each side, or until just cooked.
Then, brush with some oyster sauce mixture. Do not brush the sauce on until the wings are completely cooked, or the high sugar content will cause them to burn and get bitter.
Place the cucumber and carrot ribbons on a plate and top with the chicken wings.
Serve with a drizzle of the remaining sauce.
VIETNAMESE Food is a celebrity chef’s cookbook; that generally means the draw is the chef rather than the food. The author, Bobby Chinn, is no stranger to Malaysians who watch his show World Café Asia. His fans like his wacky sense of humour, and his laidback manner. His shows are of him travelling to different countries, interacting with locals and trying his hand at cooking a few dishes.
Chinn is half-Chinese and half-Egyptian, was educated in boarding schools in England and went to college in the United States. He graduated with a BA in Finance and Economics from Richmond College in London, and then went to work at the New York Stock Exchange. He then left all that behind, and started working in a restaurant. A serious back injury however led to him being deemed “stationary and disabled”, and he was no longer able to work as a chef in the United States.
Chinn then moved to Vietnam where he opened his restaurants; the most successful one is Bobby Chinn in Hanoi’s Old Quarter. This book is Chinn’s take on Vietnamese
Xfood, told from the perspective of a foreign chef and someone who delights in his discoveries of his adopted country’s cuisine. He introduces essential ingredients and cooking utensils in his signature breezy style, combining solid facts with practical suggestions with snippets like how in North Vietnam, dog meat served with shrimp sauce is a rare delicacy.
But what is most engaging in Vietnamese Food is Chinn’s recollections and anecdotes. He loves his stories, and has devoted pages to his narrations, complete with reminiscenses and dialogue. These anecdotes are about his encounters and experiences, and some are of his quests to replicate the dishes he likes. These stories are often personal and humorous, and peopled by memorable characters. Chinn shares everything, from how his restaurant venture in Ho Chih Minh City went bust to sitting through a dog meat feast to serving gasoline-laced gazpacho soup. He holds nothing back, and is not too bothered about being politically correct; he does not omit profanities when he recalls conversation and talks about being Muslim and learning to cook pork from a Jew.
Although personality-driven, this is ulti-