Sylvia Fountaine’s Lemongrass Chicken

Serves: 4

I don’t cook or eat a lot of stir fries.

In fact, this is the first I have ever typed up.

Which means it must be good, and it is.

It’s also simple. Mid-week dinner simple. Vietnamese hump-day stuff.

Perhaps closer to a larb than a stir fry and maybe that it why it is soo good, though stir fry it is and worth typing up, very much.


1 – 2 tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
2 fat shallots, thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 c lemongrass, finely chopped
4 – 5 dried Thai chillies (or 1/2 tsp of chilli flakes)
500g chicken mince
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp Chinese Five Spice
1 tsp cracked pepper
1 bell red or yellow bell pepper, sliced
2 baby boo chop, sliced
3 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp honey
1/4 c mint leaves or Thai basil
Lime wedges
Jasmine rice to serve


  1. Cook your rice.
  2. In an extra large skillet, heat oil over a medium-high heat and one hot, add shallots and stir fry until tender, about 2 – 3 minutes. Add garlic, lemongrass and dried chillies, stir frying until fragrant. Scoop all into a bowl and set aside.
  3. In the same pan, add a splash of oil, increase heat to high and add the ground chicken, season with salt and pepper, breaking it apart and browning once all the liquid has evaporated.
  4. Add the five spice, peppers and bok choi, lower heat and stir fry until peppers are just tender, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the fish sauce, lime juice and honey alone with the cook shallot mixture, removing the Thai chillies. Taste, adjust and add some fresh herbs to serve.

Neil Perry’s Vietnamese Chicken and Prawn Coleslaw

Serves: 4

This is such a classic Vietnamese dish.

Pops of flavour, could be had as a main or a side.

Very hard to get it wrong. Very hard to complain.


1 small roasted or barbecued chicken
6 cooked large prawns, peeled and deveined
1 carrot, julienned
200gm shredded cabbage
1 small red onion, cut into thin rings
40g mint and coriander
1 1/2 tbsp crispy fried shallots, plus 2 tsp to serve
1 1/2 tbsp crushed roasted peanuts, plus 2 tsp to serve

Nuoc Cham Dressing

2 long fresh red chillies, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tbsp caster sugar
60ml fish sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp lime juice


  1. To make the dressing, pound the chillies, garlic and sugar in a mortar and pestle. Add the fish sauce, rice vinegar and 60ml water and stir to dissolve the sugar. Set aside for 15 minutes for the flavours to infuse. Stir in the lime juice, taste and adjust as necessary.
  2. Pull the chicken meat off the bones, tear into bite-sized pieces and add it to a large bowl. Cut the prawns in half lengthways and add them to the bowl.
  3. Add the carrot, cabbage, onion, herbs, fried shallots and peanuts to the bowl. Pour over the dressing, mix well and transfer to a salad bowl. Serve immediately with the extra fried shallots and peanuts.

Vietnamese Chicken Salad


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Fresh, tasty, easy, healthy… 

Serves: 4

This Vietnamese Chicken Salad from Jill Dupleix really does have the essential flavours and kicks and yet takes less than half an hour to prep.

It tastes sensational, what with its simple nuoc cham relish undertone.

It has bite, it presents beautifully and it is crazy healthy.

Do a batch for your weekday lunches and live the good life!


2 chicken breasts
1 carrot, peeled
3 tbsp rice vinegar or lime juice
1 tsp sugar
1 garlic clove, crushed
Sea salt and pepper
3 shallots, finely sliced
Half a cucumber, peeled
Dash of sesame or vegetable oil
1 tbsp Thai fish sauce
3 tbsp mint or coriander leaves
½ mild red chilli, finely sliced
2 tbsp roasted peanuts
1 lime, quartered


  1. Poach the chicken in simmering salted water for 20 minutes, then drain and leave to cool (or use left-over cooked chicken). Cut the carrot into 10cm sections, finely slice lengthwise then cut into matchsticks. Mix the vinegar or lime juice with the sugar, garlic, salt and pepper, toss with the sliced shallots and carrot and set aside for 10 mins.
  2. Roughly shred the chicken. Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and finely slice. Combine the chicken, cucumber, sesame oil, fish sauce, mint and chilli with the shallots, carrots and their dressing, and toss lightly.
  3. Roughly crush the peanuts and scatter over the top. Serve with lime wedges.

Cha Ca (Ling Fillets marinated with dill and tumeric)

Serves 6

According to Google translate, ‘kinh ngạc’ is amazing in Vietnamese and I do hope it is because this dish is a-mazing.

It’s got it all.

Healthy, hot, filling, so tasty.

Seriously, copy paste these ingredients and clear your schedule for tonight because this is going to make tonight – and every night you cook it – very special.

Mark Jensen of Red Lantern is a genius!


1kg ling fillets
8 spring onions (scallions)
4 garlic cloves
1 tbsp ground turmeric
2 tsp hot curry power
2 tbsp plain yoghurt
1/2 cup fish sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 bunch dill
125g rice vermicelli
1 cup fish stock
1 lemon
300g bean sprouts


  1. Cut the fish into 4cm pieces, place in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Put the white heads of the spring onions (reserving the stalks) and garlic in a mortar and pound to a paste.
  3. Add the paste, turmeric, curry powder, yoghurt, fish sauce, sugar, 2 tablespoons of the oil and a third of the dill, roughly chopped) to the fish and mix well. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  4. Cook the vermicelli in boiling water for 5 minutes, turn off the heat and let sit for a further 5 minutes. Strain, refresh under cold water a set aside. (This may contradict instructions on pack, though don’t worry!).
  5. Thinly, diagonally slice 4 or 5 of the green spring onion stalks.
  6. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat, add the remaining oil and fry the fillets for 30 seconds on one side.
  7. Turn the fillets over, add the fish stock and simmer for 3-5 minutes until the fish is cooked through.
  8. Remove the fish and squeeze over the juice from the lemon.
  9. Mix the bean sprouts, sliced spring onion, remaining dill and vermicelli together, place into bowls and spoon over the fish fillets and sauce.

Omelette of Pork Mince, Preserved Radish and Spring Onion (Trung Chien Thit Bam)

Serves 2

I am so impressed with the Red Lantern cookbook (Secrets of the Red Lantern, Pauline Nguyen).

Having not cooked from it for a few years, I am back into it and everything I have cooked so far has been quite outstanding; the recipes are clear to follow and the book is generally an excellent read, with many stories behind the authors and the food.

This omelette is great and reminded me of Neil Perry’s Blue Swimmer Crab omelette, not because they are similar in taste, but because of the freshness and lightness of the end-production. The spring onions with the fish sauce and browned pork is just great, surrounded by the fluffiness of the egg.

I had the omelette with sliced green chillis and spring onions, and a bowl of rice on the side.

This should become one of the long-day, too-hard-to-cook-but-should-cook-something recipes in your repertoire.


4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon fish sauce
2 spring onions, white part only, sliced
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 small red onion (I used an eschalot)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
100g minced (ground) pork
1 tablespoon preserved radish (available from Asian Supermarkets, I found a Japanese brand providing a whole, slated radish and chopped it finely)


  1. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, salt, pepper, fish sauce and sliced spring onions.
  2. Place a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat, add the oil and then fry the onion and garlic until soft and fragrant.
  3. Add the pork and preserved radish and continue to fry until browned.
  4. Pour the omelette mixture into the pan and cover with a lid; foil or a same-size fry pan will do.
  5. Cook until the base is golden brown and the top just set, slide out onto a plate folding if desired and serve.

Vietnamese Fish with aromatic sauce and noodles

Serves 4

Let’s cut to the chase about this dish:

  1. It was titled ‘Cha Ca’ which means ‘Vietnamese Grilled Fish’. Which it isn’t. There is no grilling. Not sure how it gained that title. (The recipe is from Damien Beaumont; I found it in Delicious magazine).
  2. I cooked this after a long day out in the sun with the boys. It isn’t a quick Tuesday night number (unless you prepare it in advance) though it certainly works if you have two hours… and your boys can be trusted to get the sand out of their towels, run themselves a bath and pour you a glass of wine. Trust me; you really will deserve a wine it if you’re in the kitchen for two hours after a long day of bike riding, swimming and bush-walking!
  3. It is a wonderful dish. It isn’t light, though it isn’t heavy. It isn’t spicy though it is not without its quirks. It is very satisfying and given that you should be on your third glass of white by the time you serve, it is just what you need to nurse slight sunburn and exhaustion.
  4. The dill really surprised me in this dish. It is an excellent accompaniment and should not be skipped.
  5. As usual, I have slightly adapted the dish.


3 garlic cloves, chopped
5cm piece of fresh garlic, peeled and chopped
3 long chillies, chopped plus 1 thinly sliced chilli to serve
2 tbs fish sauce
2 tsp ground turmeric
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 tbs sunflower oil
½ cup chopped dill. Plus sprigs to serve.
400ml coconut cream
500gm skinless firm white fish fillets cut into 3cm cubes. (I used Barramundi which was great)
Juice of 2 limes (I used about 1 ½ of lime juice, though it is not overpowering)
250g rice vermicelli noodles
Cup each of coriander and mint sprigs to serve
6 x sliced spring onions to serve
Half cup chopped peanuts to serve (I used cashews which were fine)


  1. Combine the garlic, ginger, chilli, fish sauce, turmeric and half the onion in a small food processor. Add 2tbs of water and process to form a smooth paste. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a pan over medium-low heat.
  3. Cook remaining onion for 5 minutes, stirring, until soft a slightly golden.
  4. Add chopped dill and past, then simmer, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes.
  5. Add coconut cream and simmer for 20/25 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened and reduced by a third.
  6. Stand at room temperature for 1 hour to allow the flavour to develop. (Leave overnight if doing the day before.)
  7. Return the paste to a frying pan over low heat and cook, for 3 – 5 minutes, stirring until heated through.
  8. Add the fish, stir gently to coat, then cook for 5 – 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until fish is cooked through.
  9. Add the lime juice, combine and test for seasoning. (I added a pinch of salt.)
  10. Meanwhile, prepare the noodles.
  11. Serve the fish and sauce on the noodles (4 bowls). Garnish with the herbs (including the extra dill), extra chilli, peanuts and spring onion.
  12. Have that third glass of wine. You survived a whole day in the sun and you cooked this. Leave the washing up till later.

Dau Hu Rang Muoi (Salt and Pepper Tofu)

Serves 2 as a starter

I pulled this recipe from Secrets of the Red Lantern by Pauline Nguyen (recipes also by Luke Nguyen and Mark Jensen).

Red Lantern is a Surry Hills Vietnamese restaurant, with almost a cult following; the food is modern and brilliantly executed, with great service and a dark, red atmosphere.

Indeed, my mother took me to a Fish Market Cooking School around 2003 held by Mark Jensen and we cooked a prawn dish that really marked a turning point in my passion for cooking. Subsequently, I’ve eaten at Red Lantern at least a dozen times since.

This dish is very satisfying, both from the perspective of cooking it, and eating it. Tofu is one of those ingredients you cook just not quite enough to be completely confident; and yet once you’ve finished deep frying it and the smell of the spring onions, chilli and garlic in the oil hits, you know you’re onto something fabulous.

This could be done as part of a Vietnamese feast or a starter as part of a dinner party, possibly served with other interesting starters. It really is a unique, sharp and tasty dish.


250g tofu pillows (Chinese-style pressed firm tofu)
2 spring onions (scallions), sliced
1 bird’s eye chilli, sliced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Salt and pepper seasoning mix (Combine 1 tbs salt, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp white pepper, 1 tsp ground ginger, ½ teaspoon five-spice)


  1. Cut the tofu into 4x2cm cubes and place on a cloth to dry; in a standard tofu pack, this makes 6.
  2. Put enough oil in a wok to deep-fry the tofu, and heat to 180c. This will cook a brown a bread cube in 15 seconds.
  3. Deep-fry the tofu for 5 minutes or until golden and very crispy. Remove from the wok and reserve the oil for later use.
  4. Add 2 teaspoons of the reserved oil to the wok and place over a high heat.
  5. Add the spring onions, chilli and garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds ensuring the garlic doesn’t burn. Add the tofu and salt a pepper seasoning and toss.
  6. Serve with salt, pepper and sprinkle of lemon.

King Prawns sautéed with tomato, fish sauce and black pepper (Tom Rim)

Serves 4

I first cooked this dish at a cooking class at the Seafood School with my mother Ellen, around 2003. The teacher was Mark Jensen, the head chef at Red Lantern, and I swear, I became infatuated with this dish and cooked it a dozen times for different friends: Rob and Jill, Giles and Nat… even Aaron and Nilhan.

And of course my Nat one winter’s Sunday night where it hit the right note!

It is rich, hot and striking and with fresh prawns, coriander and spring onion, knocks the socks off of unsuspecting guests. I still have the recipe printout from the Seafood School, though I rediscovered it after buying the Red Lantern cookbook a few years back; this should become a staple for you.


1 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 bird’s eye chillies, chopped
1 teaspoon tomato paste
12 jumbo king prawns, peeled, deveined, with tails intact
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
4 tablespoons fish sauce
3/4 cup (185ml) fish stock
1/2 very ripe tomato, diced
1 spring onion, finely sliced
1 small handful coriander leaves


  1. Add the oil, garlic and chilli to a wok over medium heat and stir until fragrant but not coloured.
  2. Add the tomato paste. Prawns and sugar. Toss to combine.
  3. Add the pepper, fish sauce, fish stock and diced tomato.
  4. Increase the heat, bring to a simmer and cook for 3 minutes or until the prawns are cooked through.
  5. Remove the prawns to a serving planner, reduce the sauce slightly (the sauce starts to take on a slight syrupy texture) and pour over the prawns.
  6. Garnish with the spring onion and coriander.