ex­cit­ing and en­tic­ing

Bobby Chinn’s cook­book de­lights with an ar­ray of tempt­ing Viet­namese dishes – and amus­ing anec­dotes to boot.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIFESTYLE - By HUN­GRY CATER­PIL­LAR

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-

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