Getting fresh on a lunch date

The little lunch date soon becomes a seafood feast: that’s me when I see FRESH from the sea.

Two crabs steamed (my fav), a lobster grilled, a whole fish (I mistakenly pointed to the cobia, I meant grouper. Oh well) in that SEAsian tomato sauce that makes any fish delish, and a large seafood noodles.

Add an iced tea (trà dá, I relish it), a little Red Bull and a small water: USD100/AUD150 (I’m glad our politicians are paid in AUD, not USD)

Don’t shell out too much for that soft crab

Soft Shell Crab: it is any crab/prawn – any at all – that is moulting (it has shed its outgrown shell but its new shell has not yet hardened). The key isn’t in the variety or how it’s cooked; it’s all about the timing of when it’s harvested. A few years back, a major airline treated me, and other Travel Editors, to the delights of a chef’s speciality “soft shell crab” in a very expensive/exclusive restaurant at Melbourne’s Southbank. I smiled courteously as I ate, though, frankly, I thought it was like a mouthful of smashed seashells. But that’s my opinion and we all have different tastes – just don’t be fooled into paying heaps for soft shell crab/prawns.
Pictured: Vietnam streetfood soft shell crab/shrimp in light batter, deep fried

Seafood, taste food

Real pics don’t do this food justice. But  this is what I’m really eating and really tasting. Believe me, it’s all about the taste:

#ôc tói is a Vietnamese broad term for garlic snails but these big sea molluscs are more than that – they are snipped out by by the cook, hard bits removed, placed back in the shell and barbecued with a mild chilli sauce, mild garlic cloves, chopped green onion and uncrushed peanuts. The trick is to grab a bamboo skewer, get in there and give the shell a good poke – there’s always a juicy portion hiding around the curve.

#scallops simply barbecued and finished with a mild, creamy sauce. I’d pay again, just for that scallop sauce …

Squeeze a little South-East Asian lime juice over all of it, add a slice or two of rye bread, and it is a meal everyone should get to enjoy at least once in a lifetime.

(I genuinely, sincerely, feel sorry for people with seafood and/or peanut allergies.)

USD6.50/AUD$9.60, street seafood bbq, Vung Tau.

China, lobsters and soaring prices

A roast chicken USD10, average live lobster USD50, airport taxi USD30: The huge Chinese “spend” in South-East Asia is causing a rapid inflation of prices.

Expect enormous inflationary pressure to soon weigh on the smaller economies as locals struggle to cope with rocketing property/food/transport costs.

It’ll be much worst if tourism turns away from “once cheap” Asia…

Clarification: roast chooks in SE Asia haven’t yet undergone the Ingham/Steggles “miniaturisation” program and are a decent size, and come with claws and head cooked and intact – woo hoo, a bonus locals love!