On December the 14th, 2008, the Christmas lights were officially turned on in Lobethal, fireworks filled the night sky, and the streets were a buzz with anticipation. At the same time, something unique also opened its doors; something a bit different that has added a little variety to the main street. Next to the butcher, tucked away at 17 Main St., is an Asian Grocery Store with shelves stocked a mile high, carrying many and varied noodles, rices, sauces, spices, preserves, drinks, meats, sweets, fresh Asian vegetables and much more.
Ba Karen’s Thanh Long is not just a business idea for owner, Karen Kennedy, it’s best described as a passion. Karen, a Hill’s resident and book keeper for over 20 years, decided in 2006 that it was time for a change. With that thought she left the orderly numeric world of book keeping and began work at the Lobethal Abattoir. It was here, side by side on the slaughter floor that she formed friendships with her Vietnamese co-workers. Happy, friendly and accepting people, they began to share their lives with her. This was a pleasant introduction to a new and exotic country, which stirred an interest within Karen that has led her to where she is today.
Karen made two trips to Vietnam to explore and research the country, its food and people. She tells a passionate and colourful story of her experiences, of the beautiful countryside and happy residents. She stayed with local families, rather than hotels, which certainly opened her eyes to the people and their customs. It wasn’t doing her life education any harm either, having to cope with a new language, culture, currency and new food. Her focus began changing back to the simple things in life, as she looked forward to the daily visits to the markets to purchase fresh ingredients for their meals. Karen says she came across some weird and wonderful vegetables, which are inherent in Vietnamese cooking, which now frequent the shelves in her store.
If you’re wondering on the name, Ba is a Vietnamese title preceding a woman’s name (ie: Karen) and Thanh Long means Green Dragon. The shop stocks everything Asian from Japan, China, Vietnam, Indonesia to India and beyond. Her prices, range and enthusiasm are amazing, and rival a trip to Adelaide’s Central Markets; Karen says “if I don’t have it, I will get it”. She buys all the Asian vegetables from Asian growers in Adelaide, while sourcing other fruit and vegetables from the Pooraka market. And watch out for the Asian cooking classes coming soon!
Ba Karens Thanh Long is open 7 days a week from 9am to 9pm. You can get not only all your Asian groceries, but the essentials too, such as bread, butter, sugar and milk. Phone Karen on 8389 5300 with all enquiries. We part with a gift from Karen, her Recipe of the week: Vietnamese Cold Rolls which will feed 4 adults for under $20 and all ingredients are available in the shop.
VIETNAMESE COLD ROLLS
For the Rolls you will need:
- Rice Paper – 1 packet
- Rice Stick Noodles – 1 packet
- 250gr Cooked Pork Belly cut into slices (or any thinly cut meat)
- 250gr Cooked Prawns
- 1 Bunch Tia To (purple & green leafy vegetable)
- 1 Bunch Thai Basil
- 1 Bunch Asian Mint
- Lettuce (Frilly Lettuce or Asian Salad)
For the Dipping Sauce you will need:
- ½ to whole jar Vietnamese Hoi Sin (spicy) sauce
- Sago enough to thicken your Hoi Sin
- Water small amount to help make sago dissolve
- 1 clove Garlic
*This is the Vietnamese style, but you can also choose your own sauce if desired.
The Meat, Prawns and Noodles must be cooked and allowed to cool. Everything is laid out on the table in bowls, with a bowl in the centre containing tepid water. Each person makes their own roll by first placing 1 piece of rice paper into the water, remove and place it onto their own plate. Onto the rice paper put noodles, meat, some of each green vegetable and 2 prawns. Fold the bottom of the roll over tightly and then the edges and continue to roll. You may now dip your roll in the dipping sauce, eat and enjoy!
Ba Karen’s Thanh Long Employee, Lien from Lobethal, with owner, Karen Kennedy.