Be part of the solution for children who suffer from heart disease

I was born in Vietnam during a very violent and difficult era, and I still have many painful memories of what it was like for the children who suffered at that time from the effects of conflict and poverty. One of the painful things about returning to my own country has been to see that even years after the war, there are still many thousands of children here living on the breadline, who simply do not have the financial means to benefit from modern medicine. Recently I had the chance to be part of the solution for a number of these children who suffer from heart disease, working as the executive chef for a charity gala held by the Heart Institute of Saigon under CMI. Tickets to the gala, as well as proceeds from the silent auctions we held on the night, went towards providing high-quality care for such children.

I was grateful to accept the opportunity to work with CMI’s Suzanne Veyron Magar and Tu-Tho Thai of Lys Events, with the help of Damian Spencer White and Mischelle Thuy of Damian By Mischelle Jewelry. The preparation was not easy, because we had to bring in all the ingredients the day before and start prepping with many cooks, most of whom I hadn’t worked with before. So to assemble the team and execute the meal to perfection was asking a lot for most of the cooks at the Gem Center.

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Most charitable events usually go with a three-course meal consisting of a salad, main course and dessert. My charity event was a bit different. I wanted the high-profile guests who were supporting the event to experience the catering style of Hollywood with dishes reinvented using Vietnamese elements, marking the contrast between the glamour of the Tinseltown set and the inspiring hopes of those less fortunate children among us in Vietnam.

Attendees at the event enjoyed a range of dishes, from foie gras ravioli with duck breast and perigord sauce, lobster salpicon wrapped with salmon, to seared jumbo prawn and caviar sponsored by Mr. Phil Nguyen. I prepared a filet de beouf for mains, while Charity Food & Bakery under Ms. Thuy Nhu Nguyen provided servings of Vietnamese coffee gelee with passionfruit sauce for dessert.

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I was honored to be able to contribute to this noble cause helping kids in Vietnam suffering from heart problems. I encourage all readers to consider adding their support to this great charity, and I’d like to share the recipe with you for one of the appetizers we served on the night – firecracker shrimp.

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FIRECRACKER SHRIMP APPETIZER

4 poached u-15 shrimp

2 cooked egg yolks (grated)

1 tbsp of red onion (finely diced)

Baby dill (finely chopped)

2 tbsp Japanese tobiko

Remoulade

2 tbsp of Japanese mayonnaise

1 tbsp of Japanese tobiko

1 tsp of Sriracha hot sauce

Directions:

Mix egg yolks, red onion, baby dill and tobiko evenly to serve as coating condiments for your shrimp. Set aside. To make the remoulade, mix the mayonnaise, tobiko and hot sauce evenly.

Using a pastry brush, spread the remoulade evenly onto and around the shrimp completely and then dip into the egg yolk, red onion, dill and tobiko mixture, then refrigerate for 20 minutes. Serve cold.

BIO: Vietnamese chef Jack Lee (www.chefjacklee.com) has served a host of Hollywood A-listers from Angelina Jolie to Barbra Streisand, and recently returned to chef for Acacia Veranda Dining (149-151 Nguyen Du, D1). His biography by Oi writer NPD Khanh will be released next year.