About

About

Welcome to my blog! I am a writer, photographer, food/ prop stylist and film maker. You can find recipes, photos, blog posts, films and videos here.

Please follow me on instagram @loveleluu & subscribe here for blog posts. Thank you so much for visiting this page x

Food Styling & Photograhy

My Photography Work

Supper Club

Supper Club

The supper club is held in my home in London Fields, Hackney. It is like a dinner party in the tradition of a Vietnamese feast with homemade Vietnamese food.

Classes

Classes

Vietnamese food is about the balance of flavours, of sweet, salty and sour – there is no measuring device that can ever match your own taste buds.

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Leluu

Chicken Salad with Sugar Snap Peas, Pomelo, Mint and Red Onion Pickle

Mint is the must have essential ingredient in everyone’s fridge. Throw together a combination of raw vegetables, thinly sliced, with a protein such as chicken, dress with mint and a simple Vietnamese dipping sauce and you will have the most delicious and satisfying meal. What is great is that it makes you feel light and healthy. My raw vegetable salad is a major crowd pleaser and anyone hankering after the pure taste of Vietnamese cuisine does the trick. Its down to the refreshing taste of mint, green and cool to the palette. Its all wonderfully fresh, crunchy, sweet, sour and hot. The dipping sauce is bursting with zing, spiciness, sharp tanginess and syrupy ginger. 

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Chicken Salad with Sugar Snap Peas, Pomelo, Mint and Red Onion Pickle

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

Red Onion Pickle
1 red onion
3 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp caster sugar
pinch of salt and pepper

Salad
Whole corn fed free range/ organic chicken
400g sugar snap peas (can also be carrot, kohl rabi, daikon, courgettes, mange tout or a combination of these)

1/4 pomelo (de-skinned, separate segments) (or grapefruit)

10 radish (thinly sliced)
2 tbsp cider vinegar
10 mint sprigs
small handful of coriander
crushed peanuts, cashew or pistachios

Dipping Sauce
3 birds-eye chillies (de-seeded and finely chopped)

1 clove garlic (finely chopped)

1 thumb ginger, (peeled and finely chopped)

3 tbs maple syrup
2 tbs cider vinegar
5 tbs premium quality fish sauce
5 tbs crushed/ blended salted roasted peanuts, cashew or pistachios

Prawn crackers and/ or steamed chicken rice to serve

Method

Poach a whole chicken in a pot with a lid with 3 litres of boiling water, season with salt and cook for about 60 – 70 minutes, until the juices run clear and the chicken is cooked all the way through.

Meanwhile, slice the red onion as thinly as you can and pickle with vinegar, sugar and a pinch of salt and pepper in a bowl, mixing occasionally.

Thinly slice the sugar snap peas lengthways. Slice the radishes into paper thin pieces. Tear pomelo into bite sized pieces and place in a large salad bowl.

Using cooking scissors, cut the mint into 1 cm stops and add to the bowl.

Prepare and mix all the ingredients for the dressing together in a separate bowl, tasting for the balance of sweet, sour, salty and hotness. Serve in dipping bowls.

When the chicken is cooked, leave to cool. De-bone and tear off the meat along the grain. Season with salt and pepper. Add this to the bowl of salad with the pickled onion (add the vinegar juice too). When ready to serve, toss the salad together.

Garnish with a few sprigs of coriander and mint and a sprinkle of nuts. Serve with the salad dressing as a dipping sauce, prawn crackers or steamed rice.

You can use the chicken stock to make  a delicious chicken rice.
Alternatively, you can also use the dipping sauce to dress the salad.

Oxtail Soup with Butternut Squash and Winter Melon

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I have just had a baby girl and I am breastfeeding. When my mother comes to visit, she prepares this very quick one pot wonder of magic which she claims what makes good milk and that women all over Vietnam are eating this to promote healthy nutrition for mother and baby. It is delicious whether you are breastfeeding or not! Daddy loves it too.

Serves 2

Ingredients

330g large oxtail chunks, ask butcher to slice into 1 inch thick

1.2 litres water

200g butternut squash, peeled, cut into 1 inch square chunks

200g winter melon, peeled, cut into 1 inch slices (or courgette, marrow, green papaya, lotus)

salt and pepper to season

2tbs premium quality fish sauce coriander to garnish (optional)

 

Method

To gain a clean and clear broth, clean the oxtail pieces by boiling it for 5 minutes, then drain and clean the oxtail pieces under running water.

Clean the saucepan and fill with 1.2 litres of water and bring to the boil. Add the oxtail and a good pinch of salt and cook on a medium simmer for half an hour with a lid on.

Prepare the vegetables, add the squash and winter melon to the oxtail broth and season with fish sauce and cook for a further 20 – 30 minutes.

Serve with a sprinkling of coriander, black pepper and enjoy with a crusty baguette – with or without plenty of butter.

TIP: you can make much more by doubling up. It’s great to have over a couple of days. I’ve suggested a combination of butternut squash and winter melon but it could be a combination of this with marrow, parsnips, carrots, courgettes, lotus. You can see what you have going in the fridge. Cook softer vegetables for less time towards the end.

Use any herb you fancy.

Slow Poached Chicken with Ginger, Lemongrass and Chillies

At home in the fridge, there are always some carrots, peas in the freezer, potatoes and onions in a cupboard. My staple ingredient is fish sauce, ginger, dried chillies (that I dry myself from fresh chillies, finely chopped and left on a plate for a few days), lemongrass and a bag of coriander or mint.

There are so many ways you can turn these ingredients into a quick one-pot, tasty, delicious and frugal meal as well as being healthy and nutritious.

This should take about 15 minutes to prepare, which can be done earlier in the day to be set aside for dinner. (Especially great to do when your little baby is asleep)

If you don’t finish the pot in one go, its great for breakfast or lunch the next day, adding more peas or courgettes and herbs to fill it up.

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Slow Poached Chicken with Ginger, Lemongrass and Chillies 
Serves 3- 4

Ingredients

6 chicken thighs (skinned, chopped or left whole)
2 tbs rapeseed or olive oil
1 thumb ginger, peeled, coarsely chopped
I onion, coarsely chopped
3 carrots, peeled, cut into 2cm chunks
200g baby/ new potatoes, peeled or unpeeled, cut into bite-size if necessary
1 tsp dried chillies
1 lemongrass stalk, cut into 3 pieces
300ml homemade or good quality chicken stock
3tbs premium fish sauce
150g fresh or frozen peas
1 courgette, slice into 1 cm pieces (optional)
Some coriander or mint (optional)
black pepper to season

Method

In a medium hot sauce pan, add oil and brown the chicken thighs for approximately 2 mins on each side for approximately 2 mins. Set aside on a plate.

Using the same pan, add the onions, dried chillies, ginger and lemongrass to slightly brown. Return the chicken to the pot, add the carrots and potatoes. Pour the chicken stock into the pan and season with fish sauce and black pepper. Place the lid on the pot and on the lowest heat setting and cook on a low simmer for 30 – 40 mins.

When ready to serve, add peas and/ or courgettes and cook for a further 5 mins. If available add chopped coriander or mint.

Serve with steamed rice, rice vermicelli, baguette or buttered toast.

My Vietnamese Cooking Classes

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Learn how to cook and eat Vietnamese in my kitchen at home with me and my mum. We would make and eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in between in an afternoon. From salads, fresh rolls to broth and family style dinners.

I have grown up in London in the 80s and my mother brought us up on a strict Vietnamese diet because she believed that not only it was a connection to our home, our culture and who we are but also that she thought it was much healthier and very delicious.

I will share stories, simple techniques and eating philosophies over lots of food.

Book here

Christmas Gift Vouchers are valid for one year. You can arrange a date with me after Christmas.

 

*Photo by Issy Croker

4 Ways To Use Coconut Oil In The Kitchen

VITA COCO Egg

Food Photography by Uyen Luu.

With all the rage of goodness and health benefits, coconut oil is the new black. Once deemed evil because it is one of the richest sources of saturated fat, it is now far from that with a long list of health benefits because it is high in essential fatty acids. As well as being brilliant for your body on the inside, it helps to protect and moisturise hair and skin too. Its brilliant as a make up remover and mouth wash also.

I use coconut oil all the time in my cooking as it lends itself so well to South East Asian cuisines such as Vietnamese and Thai. It has a high melting point which means it doesn’t turn itself into something harmful like vegetable oils do. I do use a variety of other oils like extra virgin olive oil, rapeseed oil, butter and animal fats as I don’t want to cut them out of my food chain and virgin coconut oil is one of my must-have kitchen staples.

Here are 4 ways to use coconut oil and to include it daily at home in the kitchen.

1. Breakfast

Fry a beautiful fresh egg with coconut oil or make an omelette with it instead of using vegetable oils. Just a teaspoon to cover the frying pan with fat. There is a nutty flavour, nothing too dominating that would subtract from the lovely flavours of egg. Its also lovely in smoothies and coffee.

VITA COCO Spreads

2. Use As A Spread

There are so many things you can do with coconut oil. First and foremost it is simply delicious on toast just on its own. Add jam if you wish. During the colder months, the oil will be more solid like butter whereas in the summer its more like an oil. You can use coconut oil to make your own almond, cashew or peanut butter – simply blend the raw nuts with the coconut oil, add a pinch of salt to bring out the flavours. You can also use cocoa powder and hazel nuts, just add them to the blender with a big dollop of coconut oil. Its a great way of intaking the goodness of nuts and coconut oil in a healthy snack/ meal which is home made and non processed without comprising on flavour.

Try making lemon or lime curd with coconut oil instead of butter too. It is so delicious! Add some lime or lemon zest at the end of cooking after the mixture has cooled down or grate some fresh zest on top of your spread. Use unrefined sugars or maple syrup instead of caster sugar if you’re avoiding it.

Its as simple as! Sterilise some jars and keep in a cool place or refrigerated (*if you keep it refrigerated, bring to room temperature before serving as the coconut oil turns it into a very hard solid)

VITA COCO Roast Veg2

3. Roast Vegetables

Either melt some coconut oil in an oven tray in the oven for 15 mins first or just coat coconut oil all over your lovely cleaned and cut vegetables. Season well with salt & pepper before roasting it for half an hour – forty five mins at 180c with your other trimmings and bits like a roast chicken. I always add some hardy herbs such as rosemary or thyme just 15 mins towards the end of the roast for the extra zing of flavour.

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4. Baking

In recipes where butter or oil is used, replace it with coconut oil. Its so good. This is a Victoria sponge sandwiched with fresh fruit. I also use coconut oil in Asian cakes like chiffon cakes with pandan and coconut flavour – its excellent with blueberries too and makes the cake rise perfectly with the softest and lightest of textures.

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I have been using coconut oil long before for flavour and goodness but with this post, I have partnered with Vita Coco.

Follow @VitaCocoOilUK on Twitter and Instagram

You can head over to their website  swearbyit.com for more coconut oil and tricks.

Food Styling by Jenny Brown

Love Your Greens, Oranges, Yellows, Reds…

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“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”*

There isn’t much need for me to drone on about how vegetables are so good for us – everyone else has already said it! My mum has bought me up with 70% vegetables on the table and 30% meat or fish because that is the way its traditionally done in Vietnam. Perhaps not because its just good for you but mainly because its also cheaper and also good for you. But loving my veg has never been an easy feat in Western cooking because it is done so differently to the Vietnamese way – which is high heat, cook fast and eat.

Vegetables are flash fried quickly so that it retains texture, shape and taste or blanched right before serving to flavour broth, keeping all the essential flavours and nutrients within the dish, then eaten. Broth from most vegetables that has been boiled is kept as a drink. Nothing is wasted.

My favourite ways of cooking vegetables, using my Leisure stove and oven:

1. Roast or Grill

Tips:

Wash and cut vegetables to bite sized pieces and place on a baking tray. Using a pastry brush, paint the surfaces of the vegetables with coconut oil, left over fat from a roast or duck/ goose fat. Season with salt and pepper or any spices you fancy then roast in the conventional oven or grill. Times will vary according to what you are cooking and how much of it so keep an eye out.

Soft vegetables like aubergines, tomatoes, beans, broccoli, tenderstem will take less time and root vegetables like carrots, parsnip, beetroot will take a little longer.

You can always make a dressing for them, from your favourite pesto to a simple soy sauce dressing.

Serve with a roast, with steamed or fried rice, in a noodle soup with broth, mixed in a stir-fry.

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In this picture, grilled and stir-fried vegetables with vermicelli.

2. Stir-Fry

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Picture above: Stir- Fried Flat Rice Noodles With Omlette, Leeksm Peas, Carrot & Chilli as featured in The Observer Food Monthly

Stir-Fry Tips:

Prep vegetables to bite sized pieces.

Make a sauce, for example, soy, mirin, sake and maple. Or just just soy sauce, oyster sauce or fish sauce.

Make sure your wok or frying pan is hot, add coconut oil, butter or cooking oil then fry the hard vegetables first, moving the pan vigourously with the sauce for about a minute before adding soft vegetables and continue to fry until the vegetables are tender, still with a little bite.

Here is a fast and ultra delicious quick recipe for a stir fry, using a premium quality fish sauce. It is great with home made pasta – click here for my recipe

Stir Fried Kale & Leek Pasta/ Noodles Recipe

120g leek (which is equal to about 1 small leek or half a large leek)
250g kale (half a bunch)
2 tbsp cooking oil
1/4 tsp dried chilli
11/3 tbsp butter
11/2 tbsp fish sauce
150g dried noodles/homemade pasta

Method

Finely slice the leek into 5mm rings and wash under running water to remove any grit.

Destem the kale, and cut into 1cm strips.

Place a frying pan on a medium heat and add the oil.

Sweat the leeks with the dried chilli for 3 1/2 minutes.

Add half the kale and 1 tbsp of fish sauce and fry for a minute stirring regularly.

Add in the rest of the kale and continue to move it around the pan to stop it from sticking and burning, for another 3 1/2 minutes.

Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions, and drain.

Tip the noodles into the pan of kale and leeks, add 1/2 tbsp of butter and mix until the noodles are well coated.

3. Raw Salad

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 Raw Salad Tips

Wash and dry hard fruit and vegetables such as carrot, kohl rabi, beans, cabbage, apples and pears and finely slice or julienne with a knife or julienner to retain freshness, crunch, texture. Vegetables can be prepped way a head and dressed when ready to serve.

Avoid using a food processor because the vegetables will become limp and wet.

Always soak apples and pears in lemon water to keep them from oxidising.

Serve with or without chicken or seafood.

Use a pair of kitchen scissors to coarsely cut herbs before serving to prevent them from bruising.

Vietnamese Dressing Recipe

Mix together in a jar (keeps for about a week in the fridge), mug or bowl and then massage into the salad. Avoid making too much which will drench the salad. Pour a little at a time.

Serves 4
2 birds-eye chillies (de-seeded and finely chopped)
1 clove garlic (finely chopped)
1.5 tbs sugar
2 tbs cider vinegar
2 tbs premium quality fish sauce (Three Crabs)
3 tbs crushed/ blended salted roasted peanuts

Vietnamese Chicken Salad Recipe here

4. Poach With Broth

Food Styling & Photography By Uyen Luu www.uyenluu.com

Poaching Tips:

For a delicious and healthy soup, it is important to master poaching them by making a good broth to start with. Use seasoned vegetable, chicken, pork or fish stock (sometimes combining stocks is very tasty).

If you don’t have time, it is ok to use a stock cube too. Most vegetables will flavour the broth in addition to being cooked in it.

Add premium fish sauce or soy sauce to season. Add ginger or lemongrass to build depth, heat and zest.

Add hard vegetables to the broth first, then softer leafy vegetables and finally when the heat is turned off and you’re ready to serve, mix in chopped spring onions and/or desired herbs.

Serve with ramen, rice noodles or steamed rice. Usually vegetables soups are palate cleansers and a major part of family meals with lots of other sharing plates.

You can also create a hot pot in the middle and add vegetables as you go, drinking up the broth that is ladled into your bowl whenever it is desired.

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Vegetarian Pho Recipe as featured in The Saturday Telegraph, April 2015

5. Steam

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Steaming Tips:

Its always good to have a steamer in the kitchen, one of my essentials. I have a metal one but bamboo ones in different sizes are also great!

It is probably faster and easier to steam something rather than boiling it. Add the vegetables (at different stages if you have a selection) when the water has come to the boil. It takes minutes and you don’t have to drain it.

Serve with a dressing, extra virgin olive oil, butter or serve plain because sometimes you just fancy plain!

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*Michael Pollan. “In Defence Of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto”

All photography and styling by Uyen Luu apart from The Observer photograph.

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This photograph by Issy Croker for Suitcase Magazine