June 27, 2016

Meet Pink from East Street Canberra and Green Papaya Prawn Salad

Meet Pink from East Street Canberra. Anna Johnston - www.shenannagans.com

The ‘Meet….’ series gives you a glimpse into the inner workings of some of my all time fave peeps, cheffing superheroes and foodie friends. I ask the same ten questions and you get their heartfelt responses. 

If there is one cuisine in the world I would happily eat a couple of times each week, it is Vietnamese food. It’d be lightly spiced warming soups or refreshing, cooling summer salads.  Yep, this beautiful, magical, delicious (get in my belly) tukka ticks all the happy tastebud boxes for me.

While working at a wedding fair a few years back, I met Pink; a pint sized sassy lass who ran a Bridal Boutique and she wasn’t going to let a wedding gown 3 times her size beat her. Offering to help, she replied, ‘Ohhhh… I wish I could snap my fingers and be done here, I’d much rather be cooking up a bowl of sweet and sour tomato and pineapple soup, with the fruits still juicy and sweet. She went on to describe this sumptuous meal by telling me all the fragrant herbs she’d use, the seafood for protein, and some chilli to spice things up’. Yes please, I replied. I am free every day next week, I wanna a bowl of that. 

Meet Pink from East Street Canberra. Anna Johnston - www.shenannagans.com

What inspired you to create East Street Canberra?

I’ve always been obsessed with good food, and I think my dad being a chef by trade certainly helped too. But, I wanted to move away from the 9-5 corporate lifestyle and working with food seemed a natural next step. I also love sharing great food and getting to experience the joy that it brings people I cook for. But the really awesome thing about East Street Canberra is, now I get to tell a story about the amazing Vietnamese dishes that I grew up with and love so much.

Tell us a little about your foodie journeys, are you a chef by trade? Do you work professionally in kitchens or the food industry? Professional eater?

My foodie journey began at the tender age of 10 when my mum had my sister, I took over the household cooking duties in the family to help out. One of the things I miss the most about Vietnam (and Asia in general) is going to the food markets and all the ladies at the stalls would remember me and what groceries I wanted. They even helped me to pick the best produce, and to 10 year old me, that was pretty special.

Given I’m not a trained chef, I’m very lucky to have worked in some amazing kitchens, I just finished a short term contract with the National Gallery of Australia, but growing up with a chef dad prepared me for what I am doing today. Dad’s firm belief is that a recipe is not given, it is earned by helping out in the kitchen. My grandparents owned a Pho restaurant for 30 years, and I still don’t know the recipe, I think it’s time to help Dad make some Pho.    

What is your signature dish or favourite food/dish to prepare?

My absolute favourite dish is Hai Phong Crab Noodle soup (Banh Da Cua), brown rice noodles served in a rice paddy crab soup. The noodles are chewier than other types of rice noodles, with more of a roasted rice flavour. The soup is made from pounded up rice paddy crabs and traditionally served with pork balls and betal leaf meat patties. What makes this dish extra special is the use of rice field crabs, pork crackling and lots of fried shallots. I miss it, and crave it every day. 

My signature dish is yet to be showcased at East Street Canberra, but the dish is called Nem, it is a seafood rice paper spring roll, Hai Phong style of course. It’s basically a spring roll, but on steroids. Haha! 

Do you do the cooking at home?

Of course, I’m too picky to let the hubby do the cooking . Though he does make a delish chicken pie!

When you just want to make something simple, quick, and delicious, what do you prepare? We’d love to learn one of your recipes.

It would be my Green Papaya salad with Prawns and lots of fresh herbs, it’s gluten free and dairy free, and if you want it to be vegetarian, just don’t add the prawns.

Meet Pink from East Street Canberra. Green Papaya and Apple salad with Prawns and lots of fresh herbs. A blog post by Anna Johnston - www.shenannagans.com

Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 20-30 minutes

  • 90 ml (¼ cup) fish sauce
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) white vinegar 
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) water 
  • 110 g (½ cup) sugar 
  • green papaya, peeled, halved, seeded and finely julienne
  • carrot, finely julienne
  • 8 deveined prawns, cooked and sliced in half 
  • 200 grams of pork belly
  • 100 gram wedge of onion
  • ⅓ bunch of Vietnamese mint, plucked, roughly chopped
  • ⅓ bunch of coriander, roughly chopped. Save some for garnishing later
  • ¼ cup fried shallots  
  • 1 red chilly, thinly sliced
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Step 1: Poach pork belly for 20 minutes or until cooked in water, wedge of onion, pinch of salt. Thinly slice when cooked.

Step 2: Soak the finely julienned papaya and carrot in lemon juice water for 20 minutes to remove sap, slightly soften and prevent bruising.

Step 3: Combine the fish sauce, vinegar, water and sugar in a bowl, stirring until the sugar dissolves to make the dressing. Add chilly to taste and more fish sauce if needed. (It is very Vietnamese to add more fish sauce).

Step 4: Combine the papaya, carrot, prawns, pork, mint and coriander in a separate bowl. Pour a good amount of dressing over the salad and gently toss, be light handed with your salad to avoid bruising.

Step 5: Pile the salad high on a plate, adding more prawns and coriander if needed. Generously sprinkle fried shallots on top.

NOTE: Serve with prawn crackers if you’re in the mood, it helps to scoop up the salad.

Meet Pink from East Street Canberra. Green Papaya and Apple salad with Prawns and lots of fresh herbs. A blog post by Anna Johnston - www.shenannagans.com

What was your worst kitchen disaster? Worst cut, burn etc. What happened?

Hmmm, which disaster do I pick? This particular burn happened a couple of years ago when I was making Bo Luc Lac aka Shake Pepper Beef. I was tossing the beef in a very, very hot pan, it was only a few seconds, but I forgot and grabbed the pan with my bare hand and burnt my entire left palm. I couldn’t cook for a week after that happened, but the beef turned out great and was really yummy, so it was worth it!

What is your fave breakfast?

In Australia I LOVE scrambled eggs with lots of mushroom and sautéed spinach. If I’m feeling naughty, I add some super crispy bacon on the side. Oh, and a glass of freshly squeezed juice. YUM!

In Vietnam: PHO with crispy bread sticks. 

What are your go to places in Canberra for an excellent foodie experience?

This is a very hard question, especially since our awesome city offers so many excellent choices, but….. lets break this down. 

Relaxed, casual meal: the Hamlet – Souvlaki for days!, Chez Federic and Dumpling Inn in Jamison for peking duck and honey ginger prawns.

Night out: Les Bistronomes, Temporada, Courgette which is still my favourite restaurant after many years in Canberra.

Drinks: Bentspoke Brewing Co, George Harcourt for a Brookvale ginger beer on tap and Knightbridge Penthouse.

Meet Pink from East Street Canberra. Anna Johnston - www.shenannagans.com

If you were stranded on a desert island and could only bring three things, what would they be and why?

My hubby, a frying pan and a really big bottle of fish sauce. Hah! 

If you were to invite a famous person to your house for a meal (any meal) — who would it be, what would you prepare, and why?

I’d have Julia Child to my house and the dish I would prepare is Boeuf Bourguignon. It’s a dish that represents her, and her passion for amazing food and the people who enjoy good food too. She seems like she would be great fun and just imagine her saying ‘Bon Appetit’ in person. 

Be sure to pop by East Street Canberra Facebook page and let Pink know what you thought of her delicious Green Papaya and Apple salad with Prawns, or to find out where you can nab a bowl of her delicious Vietnamese style street food. 

I’d love to know what beautiful, magical, delicious (get in your belly) tukka ticks all the happy tastebud boxes for you?  

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shenANNAgans is Anna Johnston, a 30 - something Aussie gal with an unwavering passion for the Hospitality industry. I love the quirky and unusual, designing events, travelling far and wide and eating food from all around the world. I am coffee blooded, a craft beer enthusiast, wine drinking yogi who enjoys writing about her adventures.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

hassan - July 18, 2016 Reply

I like it. Hi my dear friend Anna…

    Anna - August 9, 2016 Reply

    Glad you enjoyed Hassan! And happy hellos to you too my friend. 🙂

Mandy - July 18, 2016 Reply

Lovely interview and awesome recipe!
Have a glorious day Anna.
🙂 Mandy xoxoxoxo

    Anna - July 23, 2016 Reply

    Glad you enjoyed meeting my pal Pink, Mandy. 🙂
    And hope you’ve had a wonderful week and a spectacular weekend. xoxo

Jemma - July 6, 2016 Reply

I need that salad in my life, it looks amazing!

    Anna - July 6, 2016 Reply

    It is the business Jemma, looks and tastes amazing. 🙂

Serina aka Ms Frugal Ears - July 4, 2016 Reply

Loved the photo of you and Pink. And really loved her description of noodles with rice paddy crab soup. Yum! I will look out for her restaurant.

    Anna - July 6, 2016 Reply

    Yes, I am super lucky to have such a beautiful friend in my world like Pink! 🙂
    And yeah, she makes food sound wonderful. Pink doesnt have a restaurant, but if you head to pretty much any of the festivals around Canberra, you will find her and her delicious food there. Sometimes you’ll find me helping her out, cooking up a storm with her too.

Anna Hettick - July 4, 2016 Reply

Love reading interviews so much! Never had pork belly and love shrimp and this recipe looks amazing!

    Anna - July 4, 2016 Reply

    Awesome! I am so pleased you enjoyed meeting my pal Pink! She is indeed a clever lady. 🙂
    And… I can vouch for the yumminess of the recipe, so GOOD!

Hannah - July 4, 2016 Reply

Thai food is my go to for ticking all the tastebud boxes!
Massaman curry, pad Thai, prawn stir-fry and coconut rice!!!
All delicious!!!

    Anna - July 4, 2016 Reply

    Oh yeah! I totally agree, Thai food is the freakin business, but really I would be happy with most food from South East Asia, even better if my pals cook it for me.

Tim UrbanDuniya - July 3, 2016 Reply

I love this!! Thank you for sharing the story and the recipe – I might need to leave the pork out, but otherwise papaya salad is one of my favourite dishes!! Lovely pictures of you guys too!! 🙂

    Anna - July 3, 2016 Reply

    Oh it is SO delicious and tasty and yum, Tim! You’ll love it. 🙂 Even without the pork.
    Totes agree my friend, papaya salad is the business, even in the middle of a Canberra winter.

Rosemary - July 2, 2016 Reply

What a great interview. Love Pink’s dad point of view…”a recipe has to be earned.” I do love Vietnamese food as well, but I don’t eat it often enough. Great pictures and delicious salad.

    Anna - July 3, 2016 Reply

    It is an interesting philosophy that Pink’s dad has with the recipe, I sort of agree with it, and understand keeping a family recipe for the family, but I also feel food is something that everyone can and should enjoy. My interpretation of a recipe might be different to yours, so by sharing it, another will be earning it. But heck, maybe that is just what Pinks dad meant?! Glad you enjoyed the recipe and meeting my buddy.

Elissa - July 2, 2016 Reply

Yum, I love Vietnamese food, this looks super tasty. That’s a cool philosophy, that a recipe isn’t given, it’s earned by helping out. And it sounds like she did a lot of helping in the kitchen – inspiring!

    Anna - July 3, 2016 Reply

    Pink has had an incredible food journey to date, all her years helping out have certainly paid off, she makes some of the tastiest tukka around. 🙂

Sahar - July 2, 2016 Reply

That was a great interview. I have never had Vietnamese food. I wish to learn though! The papaya salad looks promising!

    Anna - July 3, 2016 Reply

    Pink is awesome, I am glad you enjoyed meeting her Sahar! And yes, you must, must, must try Vietnamese food, it really is very tasty. 🙂

Prateek - July 2, 2016 Reply

Great piece Anna, always love to hear stories of those who are not classically trained in F&B but still had the courage and acumen to quit their jobs and start joint of their own. Loved the papaya salad too!

    Anna - July 3, 2016 Reply

    Yes, I like learning about people and their foodie stories too, even cooler when they are your friends and you get to eat all the amazing and delicious food too. Ha! Pink is very inspiring the way she left the corporate world to pursue her passions for food. 🙂

Eloise - July 1, 2016 Reply

I love to try different recipes and definitely i will add this on my lists as it looks so easy to prepare. 🙂

    Anna - July 3, 2016 Reply

    Super easy to prepare, and so, so, sooooo delicious too! Let me know what you think if you make the salad. 🙂

Sophie - July 1, 2016 Reply

Mmmmmmmmmm,… What a fabulous delicious recipe. Yum!

    Anna - July 3, 2016 Reply

    I know right, Vietnamese food is so dang delicious. I feel very lucky to have such a talented buddy, especially one who shares her yummy recipes. 🙂

Sue Slaght - July 1, 2016 Reply

You two look like quite the pair. Both full of life and loving good food. The recipe sounds delicious. i wonder if she would mind popping over to make it for me? Too much to ask? 🙂

    Anna - July 3, 2016 Reply

    What’s that saying… Great friends, great food, great memories! That’s totes us. 🙂
    Hahaha… I reckon Pink would be right up for a cheeky visit over your way, but be sure to set the table with an extra setting, because I am coming too.

Evelyne CulturEatz - June 30, 2016 Reply

Awesome interview, Pink sounds liek a hoot. And so cool she got ahead without professional training. That looks liek a great recipe!

    Anna - July 3, 2016 Reply

    She really is Evelyne, we always seem to have a blast when we catchup. 🙂
    Pink sort of did have professional training as her dad was a chef, but, I guess it isn’t formal training. Ahhh, either way, it is awesome to see her following her heart and going after her tasty dreams.

Krysten (@themomnoms) - June 30, 2016 Reply

Oh my goodness! I want to meet her, she seems like she so fun to be around!
Not to mention her food looks fantastic. I would have said the same thing, “Yes, please” when she described her food.
It’s awesome that you have so many foodie friends over there. I’m really trying to build up my relationships here, but I am so afraid to be social 🙁

    Anna - July 3, 2016 Reply

    So much fun to be around! And… when you guys come for a visit (please, pretty please) you totes can. 🙂
    Yes, I am lucky to have such a talented and amazing group of foodie friends, we all wish that you lived closer, especially for our food blogger dinners.

John/Kitchen Riffs - June 30, 2016 Reply

I read somewhere that most cooks are either “cutters” or “burners” — that is, they generally injure themselves in the kitchen either by cutting or burning themselves. I’m definitely a burner — I have a thing for putting skillets in the oven, then grabbing the handle to remove them — forgetting that the handle, which is cool on the stovetop, isn’t when it’s in the oven. I feel Pink’s pain. Anyway, really fun interview — thanks.

    Anna - July 3, 2016 Reply

    I’m a burner too John, I have a bunch of scars on my forearms from pulling giant bread trays out of ovens as an apprentice chef, just barely touching my arm to the scorching hot. Ha. Pulling a pan out of the oven has got me a few times myself. Who needs finger prints anyways huh?
    Glad you enjoyed meeting my pal Pink!

Kirsty - June 29, 2016 Reply

It certainly sounds like time for Pink and her Dad to make Pho, and keep the family traditions going.

    Anna - June 29, 2016 Reply

    Oh yes, I totally agree Kirsty! That would be a really amazing story to read huh?

Hotly Spiced - June 29, 2016 Reply

Hmmm, my daughter was 10 when Alfie was born. She certainly did not head down to the shops and buy the groceries then come home and cook me a meal to help out! In fact, she’s now 21 and I’m still waiting for that day. What a competent 10-year old she must have been. Like you, I do love Vietnamese cuisine. It has an unbelievable freshness to it. There’s a Vietnamese restaurant within walking distance of where we live and frequently we beetle up there for some food that sour, hot and sweet with wonderful fresh herbs xx

    Anna - June 29, 2016 Reply

    Hahaha, I have a hunch you might be waiting a very long time, Charlie. Lol! 🙂
    Oh how fabulous you have a tops local Vietnamese Restaurant, and even better it is good and you frequent often. Mmmmm to hot and sweet loaded with fresh herbs.

Krista - June 29, 2016 Reply

What a delightful and inspiring person! Her noodle descriptions sound amazing!!

    Anna - June 29, 2016 Reply

    Ohhhhh yeah. I am lucky to have such a talented and creative foodie friend. 🙂

Mabel Kwong - June 28, 2016 Reply

It is wonderful to meet a foodie friend of yours. Pink sounds like a such a go-getter and the papaya and apple salad dish sounds delicious. If I do make it, I will be sure to add the prawns because I love prawns! I never really had much Vietnamese food until a few years ago. Love the spring rolls for a light lunch and pho has always got a soft spot with me.

I too love scrambled eggs and mushrooms. In fact, I think I could eat mushrooms at any time of the day 😀 They go well with soups and eaten on their own. Apart from mushrooms, I like pizza and I could also eat that at any time of the day. If you’re talking Asian cuisine, I love Hainanese chicken rice. Always leaves a good taste in my mouth.

Hope you are well, Miss Anna. Sending you lots of hugs and kisses as usual. Mwah xoxo

    Anna - June 29, 2016 Reply

    Yay! Hopefully one of these days soon you really will get to meet the lovely Pink, maybe she will cook us a delicious Vietnamese feast. #hinthintpink
    Spring rolls for a light lunch, I can’t stop at just one, so it would end up being a big lunch. Ha! But all the yes to pho. Actually, not gonna lie, I will eat pretty much any Vietnamese food. Mmmm
    Heck yes to scrambled eggs with mushrooms. I used to dislike mushrooms, but these days, I am a bit like you, can eat them at any ol time of day.
    Hainanese chicken rice sounds wonderful too.
    I am well little one, hope you are feeling heaps better. Sending you all the love and hugs. Mwah. xox

Rosemarie of Travel and Beyond - June 28, 2016 Reply

Oh my! This is now making me want Vietnamese so badly. I have yet to try food from East Street, I will have to put that on my list! You have such beautiful access to delicious food! I envy you!

    Anna - June 29, 2016 Reply

    I always get super excited when an invitation for dinner at Pinks house comes about, so much tasty! 🙂
    Yeah, you should totes grab a feed from East Street, tell Pink I sent chya.

Elizabeth - June 28, 2016 Reply

If someone famous was coming I would definitely my american style pork rack ribs… secret family recipe and so good! Its a winner every time.
Oh and thanks for the recipe… I currently have about 30 green papaya on the tree!
Liz xx

    Anna - June 29, 2016 Reply

    What about if someone not famous at all was coming, can we eat your American style pork rack ribs. I really want to try them, sounds GOOD!
    Glad you enjoyed the recipe, nice change from the stodgy winter food huh?
    And AWESOME you have a papaya tree. I so wish we lived closer.

Christopher - June 28, 2016 Reply

Hey Lovely, Hope you’re well?

Another awesome article/interview, I looovveee Vietnamese food and could eat it everyday. I’ll be sure to head there when I’m in town next!
Cheers x

    Anna - June 29, 2016 Reply

    Hey ya Chris, how the heck are you? I missed you the other day when you were in Canberra. :/
    I love that you enjoyed my post on Pink and her business East Street Canberra, she sure makes some damn delicious food.

Tandy | Lavender and Lime - June 28, 2016 Reply

This is a cuisine I want to learn more about so thanks for sharing a great interview and recipe

    Anna - June 28, 2016 Reply

    It really is a lovely cuisine, I do hope you enjoy the recipe. I am sure if you touched base with Pink via her Facebook page she would be happy to recommend Vietnamese cook books or websites to continue your learning. Glad you enjoyed Tandy! 🙂

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella - June 28, 2016 Reply

Mmm I could do with a big bowl of that right now! Although it is cold, the flavours would keep me warm 😀

    Anna - June 28, 2016 Reply

    I did think it a little brave chowing down on a salad for dinner last night (top of 7 degrees), but the flavours made it really warming and yummy and actually a nice change from the winter comfort eating. Enjoy my friend! 🙂

Sarah - June 28, 2016 Reply

SAVING THIS! I’ve always wanted to try making green papaya salad. Now I have no excuse. It looks so damn good!

    Anna - June 28, 2016 Reply

    AWESOME! Thank you so much Sarah, you are a gem. 🙂
    It is so dang tasty, I had it for dinner last night, it will definitely be one feed there wont be any leftovers.

Kristy - June 27, 2016 Reply

I love all your photos together! Such gorgeous girls

    Anna - June 28, 2016 Reply

    Nawh, thanks lovely one. I am lucky to have such a beautiful friend in Pink, I especially say that after I eat one of her delicious meals. 🙂

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