After what felt like a year of travel by plane from Australia, we arrived in Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi.
Exhausted and keen for a feast we wandered around the Old Quarter in search of a restaurant called The Green Tangerine.
We were all ravenous and keen to see why this city is known around the world for its diverse and delicious food.
Tucked away in Hang Be street was an old courtyard and an instant refuge from the chaos outside.
The décor was elegant and the restaurant exuded relaxation.
With a terrace, tiled walls, arched ceilings, Chinese water wheel, green wooden shutters and historical influences everywhere, The Green Tangerine allowed us to go back in time and discover the essence of French colonial style.
After interviewing the restaurants manager, Vincent Pariot we discovered that although the building was established in the 1920s, it has been home to the restaurant for almost a decade.
Prior to that it was a house, then a silk shop before making its transition to a French Vietnamese restaurant.
In an instant we were introduced to quality Vietnamese hospitality, something that is often forgotten in the west.
We were confronted by an eclectic yet enticing menu and struggled to choose just one thing to order.
Sitting at a long table looking out to the courtyard and enjoying a glass of wine we absorbed the scenery around us.
When our meals arrived, in addition to the ensuing ‘ohhs and ahhs’ an assortment of aromas filled the air.
I ordered the salmon with strawberry chutney, an unusual combination but one that exceeded my expectations.
The produce was fresh and the flavours unique.
I then followed with a green tea cheese cake for dessert and a rich Vietnamese coffee.
The restaurant sources its ingredients from local and international producers with steak imported from Australia and scallops from New Zealand.
The managers told us they work “with the suppliers to achieve good produce and a win-win situation for both the restaurant and the producers”.
In the end a three course meal and alcohol, the standard of any fine Australian eatery, came to the grand total of 600 000 dong or A$30 each.
When I asked Mr Pariot how he would describe the food to clientele, he responded that head chef Stephane Yvin is “very good at blending French food and Vietnamese flavours”.
The VPR crew, many of whom are devout foodies, can attest to that.
He adds that although most of their customers are tourists, the remainder are both Vietnamese and foreigners who live in the city.
The Green Tangerine is an ideal Hanoi eatery that allows an opportunity for luscious food, an ideal recluse from the intensity of the city and a celebration of Vietnamese food.
The restaurant very kindly offered us the following recipe:
Duck Breast in Green Tea Crust
Duck breast 4 Pc
Butter 100 g
Jasmine Tea 60 g
Thyme 1 qs
Gouddha cheese 40 g
Bread crumbs 100 g
Olive oil 1 qs
Flour 350 g
Sugar 300 g
Water 1 qs
Butter 125 g
Cherry Tomatoes +/- 40 Pc
Milk 1 qs
Cardamom 1 qs
Star anised 1 qs
Jasmine tea 30 cl
Poultry stock 10 g
White Wine 20 cl
Vietnamese Duck are slimmer than western ones; remember that the receipt is applied for large breast.
Slice the Duck breasts in 4 slices in their thickness all being the same thick. Marinate them in seasoned olive oil and keep in fridge.
Put in a mixer, bread crumbs the butter (g), thyme, Gouddha cheese, seasoned, and mix until the concoction is well blended.
On your working table lay some clingfilm, spread the above mixture and cover it again with clingfilm. With a rolling pin flatten the concoction until it is 2 mm high. Then cut the resulted paste, still in between the cling film, at the size of the duck breast, keep the result in the fridge without removing the clingfilm.
To prepare the paste mix with hand butter (80g), sugar (50 g) and flour (250 g) until getting a thin texture (like sand on a beach). Then spread it like a small volcano with a space large enough in the center to receive the water. Slowly work the water and the concoction, do not knead too much or it will become elastic.
Once the blend is homogeneous wrap the paste in cling film and let it rest 30 min in the fridge. (a ready made paste will do it if you are in a rush).
Pan fry the butter, the tea and the honey until the got a yellowish color. Deglaze with the white wine add some water as well as the poultry stock let it reduce until it get a little thick and tasty. Filter the resulting sauce.
Make a Roux blanc: once your pan is hot, you put your measured butter (100 G) into the pan to melt or heat up until it is somewhat bubbly, but before it becomes colored. You then add your measured flour (100 g) out of the fire, all at once to the pan, and begin stirring until it becomes homogeneous.
Once the roux is ready add it to the filtered sauce you will see the sauce gets thicker be careful and stir it all the time making sure there is no lumps. Once homogeneous keep it warm for setting the plates.
Infuse the cardamom and the star anise in the milk.
While the flavors are gently diffusing mix the sugar (250 g) and the yolk with a whisk until the concoction get white, then add gently the flour. On a soft fire add the milk to the mixture. Filter the spices from the milk and slowly add it on the fire keeping stirring until the cream get thick and regular. Remove the sauce from the fire and let it cool down on the side.
In a small pie mold fit the tart base, and add some cream and the cherry tomatoes. We prefer to use oblong cherry tomatoes that we fit vertically in the cream. Cook in a hot oven for 30 minutes (you can prepare the tarts the day before and reheat them few minutes before seating at the table)
Half an hours before dinner, pan-fry the duck breast on a bright fire until they get colored enough. Remove then at this point from the fire and cover with the prepared concoction finish cooking them in the oven at 210°c until the expected cooking point.
In a different frying pan let melt the butter, add the tea then the wine. Cook for a little while, season with the poultry stock and pepper to your taste.
Cut the duck breast on an angle, delicately position on your plate with the tomato tart, garnish around with the tea sauce and add some herbs..