Elena Bowes

New York-London travel & design writer of a certain vintage looking for meaning and wholeness in life

From Burnt Toast to Vietnamese Fusion

March 11th, 2015
Hoi An, Vietnam
Wanderings: Elsewhere

Take Vietnamese cooking lessons: a humdrum resolution for many, but for someone who can burn toast perfectly (how black do you want it?), my resolution is revolutionary. It’s all thanks to Tran Thanh Duc (Duc for short), the dynamic Vietnamese chef extraordinaire who charms as he chops, slices, dices, and turns up the heat. Nigella better watch out as I leap from toast al la charred to Duc’s “Lust in Translation” (tuna rolls topped with yogurt, passion fruit, and mint). Read the rest of my article about my fun-filled day with Duc at the burner and me his aspiring sous-chef in Trufflepig.

 If you can’t make it to Vietnam for the cooking lesson, below is a passport-free recipe from the fabulous Duc. 

Lust in Translation

Ingredients for tuna rolls:

 ●   tuna – 400 grams – sushi grade, tuna belly

●   nori sheets- 4 sheets, each breaks into 3 strips

●   rice paper – 12 sheets (banh trang re)

●   garlic/onion/ginger – 2 tbsp each minced

●   fresh herbs – coriander, mint, basil

●   sesame seeds – 2 tbsp black + 2 tbsp white

●   vegetable oil for deep frying

Prepare the seasoning for the tuna:

Finely chop garlic, onion, ginger, and fresh herbs – mixed all together with sesame seeds.  Tuna cut into strips of 2cm thick then roll over the mixed seasoning.

Wrap and roll:

On the cutting board – rice paper layer with nori strip and seasoned tuna strip then fold both sides of rice paper in toward center, and continue rolling as tightly as possible without tearing.


Heat the oil to 350 degrees – immerse the rolls in oil, use chopsticks to turn them so that they are evenly cooked.  It is ready when the rice paper turn a golden brown color

ingredient for dipping sauce:

●   natural yogurt – ½ cup

●   passion fruit – 2 whole fresh

●   red chili

●   wasabi paste

●   five spices

●   brown sugar, salt, black pepper – pinches to taste

 Prepare for dipping sauce:

 Simply mix together the passion fruit and yoghurt, add a pinch(es) of sugar, salt, and black pepper to taste, a pinch of five spices powder and ½ tsp of wasabi paste.  Cut the red chili into thin strips without the seeds and add to the sauce – leave in the fridge for 2 hours before serving.


cut the tuna rolls into bite size pieces, drizzle three drop of soy sauce in the center of each piece then ½ spoon of yoghurt sauce on top.

March, 2015