Let’s join Sally from Taste Trekkers, along with an enthusiastic group of food lovers, on an Asian Food Trek through Inala.
Sally’s shopping treks are well known throughout the cooking-sphere in Brisbane. They are a chance to discover some of the intimate culinary secrets of the suburbs – and I have to admit, if I had not done this trek I would not have known this little part of Inala – a suburb that I have never travelled to before – even existed. Inala is a former lower socio-economic area peppered with government housing, a place which a multitude of indigenous Australians call home. It is one of the fastest housing-price rising areas in Brisbane, due to its closeness to the CBD. It is also called home by a rapidly growing Asian flavoured culture – Thai, Chinese, Malay, Indian and more.
I had wanted to take one of Sally’s ‘local’ guided tours so I could sample what are claimed to be the best Viet markets for different kinds of food, get ideas for recipes, some insider knowledge on who gets what from where and some useful advice about the best choices for menus.
I was not disappointed.
This great shopping trek saw me drive a good 45 minutes from my little coastal home. It was like driving back in time – I was transported back to the early 80’s when I was travelling around Thailand and up towards Vietnam. It was all there – the smells, the sound… entering the square is like stepping into a shopping square in Ho Chi Minh. Men were smoking and playing checkers in the center of the square. Shops were laden with cookware and spices. Grocery shops stuffed full of anonymous goodies with the days freshest ingredients spilling out onto the path.
It was a great day. Sally took us in and out of a number of shops, sharing her favourite items, hints about what to do with new little products, deciphering labels and offering great advice. I wish I had time to record everything she said. Sally is like a dervish, so thorough her knowledge, and believe me, we tried to get as much out Sally’s time as we could :) The trekking finished at a great Vietnamese Restaurant “Phuong Trinh“. Here is my Pho. Yummm- it is a dish to die pho (heh!)
I loaded up on goodies while she was talking, loaded again after the tour – (and went BACK with the family where we loaded up again). I bought kitchen gadgets, food products, delightful fresh goodies and more. The tastes and flavours of the day were heady and wonderful.
One of the items I purchased, already familiar to me, was a half duck from the Asian BBQ butcher. I adore duck, and at $15.00 for the half I had decided that the duck, and the abundance of fresh Asian herbs would be the basis for dinner that night.
Duck Spring Rolls.
- 1/2 a roast duck (buy from an Asian barbecue shop. Best bought the same day)
- 1 Lebanese cucumber, washed
- 1 small handful fresh mint leaves
- 1 small handful coriander leaves
- 1 small handful snow pea sprouts, cut in half length ways
- juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 packet round rice paper rolls
- 4 tbsp light soy sauce
- Fried garlic
- Remove the bones from inside the cavity of the duck by gently pulling them away from the flesh with your hands. Feel where the bones are; they should come away quite easily. Cut off the fatty parts and discard them, then slice the duck into small, thin pieces about 5cm long. Place the meat in a bowl.
- Cut the cucumber into thin slices and add to the bowl with the herbs and snow pea sprouts. Add the lemon juice and fish sauce and mix all together.
- In a bowl of warm water, soak a few rice paper rolls at a time until they become pliable. Remove, place on a tea towel and pat dry. Repeat with remaining rolls. Place a small amount of the duck mixture on the bottom of each roll (be sure to give a couple of duck pieces each) and roll up. Tuck in the edges as you roll until you have a nice shape that looks like a spring roll. Continue until you have used all the mixture, covering rolls with a damp cloth. These can be stored in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving.
- To serve
- Make your favourite dipping sauce. Or mix together some hoi sin and soy sauce. Or, a great spring roll dipping sauce from Spirit House goes great too. Pour into a dipping bowl to serve alongside a neat pile of duck rolls.
If you want the freshest ingredients and a variety like nowhere else then this is where you need to do this tour. You can find Sally and Taste Trekkers tours here.