About

About

Welcome to my blog! I am a writer, photographer, food 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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Video Recipe: Steamed Pork, Prawns & Jerusalem Artichoke, Cabbage Dumplings

Cabbage dumplings with pork and King prawns

Serves 3/4

Makes approximately 36 rolls

Ingredients

6cm ginger, peeled, finely chopped

1 shallot, finely chopped

1 spring onion, finely sliced

200g minced pork

75g Jerusalem artichoke, peeled, finely chopped (optional)

150g king prawns, peeled, chopped 1 cm

Pinch of pink pepper or black pepper

Pink of sugar

Pinch of saltRead More

Recipe: Vegan Pho

As featured in The Guardian Feast March 2018 – readapted here

Pho is loved by the Vietnamese and people all over the world. Vegan pho is really popular because it basically has that “pho hit” without any meat which isn’t really missed here and takes half the time. The monks missed their pho so created the vegan kind.

This recipe is an example of what vegetables you can use and the quantities have been measured for this amount of water for the stock. I love to use aniseed flavour vegetables such as fennel and celeriac to bring out the flavour of “pho”. By using sweeter root vegetables such as sweet potatoes and carrots can help you use less sugar in the broth. You can make the broth much richer by charring some of the vegetables first.

You can use whatever vegetables you have available but it is really important to char the ginger and onion, this really adds to the marvellous flavour of pho and this step should never be missed.Read More

Olive’s Carrot and Olive Oil Cake with Honey Icing

Baking has become a favourite is our household because everyone loves cake and Olive loves a good tea party and giving slices to her nursery teachers and neighbours.This is a very light and fluffy recipe, quite low is sugar too so I let her have her own slice of cake.Its really easy to make because it just involves putting everything in the bowl and mixing it and baking it. She loves sprinkling sprinkles when we are decorating.
Ingredients 

  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 100g caster sugar or brown sugar
  • 300ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 350g grated carrots

For the icing

  • Tub of cream cheese
  • Good squeeze of runny honey

Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C / Gas 4. Grease two round cake tins (20-23cm).
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and sugar. Add the oil and eggs.  Mix together, then stir in the carrots. Divide the cake mixture evenly between the two prepared tins.
  3. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven. A stick inserted into the cake should come out clean. Cool cakes on wire racks before removing from tins.
  4. To make the icing: In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and honey. Use to fill and ice the cooled cake layers and decorate as you wish.

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A FOODIE FAMILY HOLIDAY GUIDE For TantrumXYZ

This is an adaptation of the original post written for TantrumXYZ, courtesy of Airbnb here
In this post, there are many extra recipes!

From foraging to feeding fussy eaters, food writer Uyen Luu provides recipes + inspiration from her foodie trip to Siena

I am the type of person who loves to travel to a destination specifically for the food it has to offer. I find great tranquility in cooking and I take great enjoyment in food shopping on holiday – whatever the season. For me, pleasure is food shared with others. Now that I have a young family, (my daughter is currently just under 2 years old), cooking is strongly weaved through our daily lives and meal times are milestones of the day, even on holiday.

We recently went to Tuscany with some friends. Sunshine, splish-splashing in the pool and good food was our entire agenda. We stayed in a gorgeous 4-bedroom Airbnb villawith a swimming pool, about 30 mins outside of Siena.

The villa had a swimming pool overlooking the endless groves of olive trees, luscious vineyards and lavender bushes spreading wildly under the golden heat. The major selling factor was also the many great dining spaces the villa boasts. Since having our daughter, we have had less time to spend with friends, and so big communal meals were always going to be a big part of our trip. We could take our pick of where on the property to eat, from the most romantic and breathtaking of places: under the tall, protective pine trees; underneath arches of thorns and roses next to the swimming pool and beside the giant perfumed fig trees. Inside the house, the kitchen was great for breakfasts, and the roofed balcony and various living spaces for snacks and feasts by candlelight and cicada cries. This was a perfect place for our new family to spend precious time with friends, especially with the bottles of wine left for us by the Airbnb host, who also owns a vineyard.

If you love cooking and feeding as I do, ideas for Italian-inspired recipes can be endless and I loved spending time in the cool kitchen, slicing melons and making fresh pasta. The kitchen had the most amazing view and such great contrasting light. I could seriously romanticise and be there all day looking out of the window, writing a novel and cooking meals for the family, if it weren’t for all the children running around! It had everything that we needed from big plates and platters for feasts, to pots and pans for cooking it all. The only missing thing was a pasta machine. We even found a second fridge for drinks which was great. If you love cooking on holiday, don’t be afraid to ask your host beforehand to detail exactly what equipment there is, just so you can make the right choice for you.

Food-wise, I firmly believe you wouldn’t miss meat if you just decided to cook all sorts of beautiful Italian vegetables and enjoy them with the simple pasta. Making fresh pasta is better but perhaps too time-consuming for all apart from the most dedicated foodies, so having it from the packet is just as good.

For me, there is no time or inclination to ever count calories or drink kale juices, especially not on holiday. Make cake, buy cake, eat cake and do what brings the family utmost pleasure.

Tuscan-inspired holiday recipes

Simple tomato pasta

Get hold of one or a variety of delicious red plum tomatoes. Fry with shallots/onions, garlic, chillies if you like them, and a splash of white wine, then season with salt and pepper. Add a couple of spoonfuls of water from the pasta pan, and reduce with butter or olive oil. When the pasta is cooked, I mix it all together and serve with torn basil and a fresh grating of parmesan. On some nights, we just used the sauce from a jar, just as good.

Roast vegetable trays

Lay your favourite cut vegetables on a baking tray and drizzle olive oil, season with salt and pepper and herbs. Choose vegetables with similar cooking times (which you can guess by the hardness/softness of each item) to roast together. If leaves are put in with butternut squash, for example, then the leaves might burn before the squash cooks.

My favourite pairings are fennel and aubergine; squash, olives and beetroot; courgettes & tender-stem broccoli. Add a whole or half bulb of unpeeled garlic, hardy herbs like mouthwatering rosemary and sage. Or make a fresh basil or parsley olive oil dressing to toss everything together in once it is cooked.

Tray roasts are also a great way of using up vegetables on the last few days when you have to eat all the fridge contents. Be inventive with ingredients and use what’s available. Sometimes the nicest things are the simplest things.

My spaghetti vongole recipe

One of my favourite meals of all time is a plate of glorious spaghetti vongole. Sweat out some onion, cherry tomatoes, add garlic, then clams and a generous amount of good quality white wine, chopped parsley, chillies (optional), a couple of ladles of pasta water, and salt and pepper, then leave on the lid for a few minutes until all the shells are open. Mix with grade-5 spaghetti. Done. Heaven!

Read More

Noodling Around in The Guardian Cook

My cover feature: The Guardian Cook Sat 15th July 2017

It makes the hard work of being a parent worthwhile and utterly thrilling when I see the shine of delight on my daughter’s face when she eats something she enjoys.

Olive is 21 months old and she likes saying “hmmm” when she eats. At six months, she was traditionally weaned on Vietnamese rice porridge, then we introduced fruit, vegetables, meat and fish to her bowl. She now has some firm favourites: avocado – spooned out of the shell, tenderstem broccoli, grilled asparagus, fragrant chicken pho … Every day, I fear she will change her mind and refuse her greens.

Her first introduction to “cooking” was sitting on the kitchen counter, picking and smelling herbs while I prepped food – like the hardy garden mint that tickled her enchanted nose and made her giggle.

Over the summer, she has been greeting our multiplying herb pots in the garden. With song and conversation, she waters the perfumed lavender tree and bashes the rosemary – because hitting it makes the smell linger in the air. Olive points her tiny fingers at the unripened green blueberries and says: “Wait.” She bumbles around with the big green watering can, avoiding the loitering spiders and buzzing bees; she picks strawberries and raspberries with her daddy then excitedly delivers them to me, like prizes, one by one. Later, we eat them with yoghurt and honey.

Olive loves texture, shapes, and hints of colour, like yellow buttons of sweetcorn, green balls of peas, ruby gems of pomegranate. Giving her the chance to touch and eat the things she finds interesting helps me learn what she likes. She loves slurping noodles or making a satisfying quenched sound after a big drink of water. She adores eating with her parents, sitting on a grown-up chair around the table and feeding the dog under it.

Please visit The Guardian here for toddler friendly recipes for all the family to enjoy too

Photography by Elena Heatherwick

 

THE GEOGRAPHY OF VIETNAMESE NOODLES

noodletown2

(This feature was originally published at Momentum Magazine – John Brown Media. It is re published here with permission)

Across Vietnam, noodles are a staple. But how they’re prepared and what they’re served with varies according to the climate, history and personality of each region

What’s better than the moment when you receive a steaming, aromatic bowl of noodles? Is it when you add the garnishes and that squeeze of lime that somehow always ends up on your face? Or is it that blissful moment when you finally get to eat the noodles, when it’s just you and the noodles and no one else?

In Vietnam, noodles are the thread of daily life. From flat rice noodles (bánh ph?) in the morning to rice vermicelli (bún) in the afternoon, from rolled noodle sheets (bánh cu?n) as a quick street snack to thick, plump cylindrical noodles (bánh canh) at the end of the night, all kinds of noodles are enjoyed as a staple. But how they’re prepared and what they’re paired with varies greatly, and often depends on what’s available within the various regions of the S-shaped country.

In the cooler north along the Chinese border, people tend to eat simpler meals with purer broths. They’re not as flamboyant with herbs, condiments and garnishes like those of the tropical south where vegetation is in abundance. Northerners prefer their food either salty or plain; southerners prefer it sweet and vivacious; and those from the center love it hot, zesty and peppery.

THE NORTH: HANOI

Beef pho_Uyen Luu
Beef pho was first created during the French colonial period as a Vietnamese interpretation of beef casserole

The world-famous ph? bò (beef pho) is actually an interpretation of a French dish. Legend has it that during French colonial times (1887-1954), a street vendor just outside of Hà N?i was one of the first to gather discarded marrow-rich bones, cartilage-rich oxtail and other undesirable cuts of beef. He poached them with a concoction of spices left by the Chinese (cloves, star anise, black cardamom), essentially creating a watered-down beef casserole. But being Vietnamese, not French, he had to have it with noodles.

When the communists ruled the north after the revolution in 1954, many northerners fled south and brought the much-loved ph? with them. In the south, where the land was much more fertile and the people loved to be extravagant with flavor, ph? changed drastically and developed its own signature depending on where it was prepared. Southerners also like their bánh ph? noodles much thinner and with more of a bite—thinner noodles let more air circulate, thus making the slurp of broth or sauce more indulgent and satisfying.

CENTRAL HIGHLANDS: HU?

Hue Banh Cang Ca Loc
Bánh canh cá lóc is a comfort food for people of Central Highlands

The Central Highlands city of Hu? was once the capital and is still brimming with history from its past dynasties. Here, food is meticulously prepared although the people are generally poorer and tend to make do with whatever ingredients they can get their hands on. Bun bò Hu? is a famous and delicious breakfast bowl of lemongrass beef and pork noodle soup that’s served with the fattest rice vermicelli—sometimes measuring more than 1.8mm. Somehow it only tastes right with thicker noodles, which were meant to keep Hu? residents fuller for longer.

In the mid-morning, afternoon or after supper, bánh canh cá lóc is a popular local snack. This humble but mouthwatering lemongrass and marrow-rich snakehead fish (similar to catfish) soup comes with hand-rolled noodles and plenty of herbs, heat and zest. Soups in this region are often served with unpeeled, whole quail eggs and ch? Hu?—a famous and much sought-after paste of cinnamon, pepper and steamed pork wrapped in a banana leaf.

COASTAL TOWNS: PHAN THI?T

Phan Thiet Banh Canh
Bánh canh Phan Thi?t is a great summer dish with a spicy kick

Drive down the coast from Hu? to the southerly fish-sauce-making seaside town of Phan Thi?t (my mother’s hometown) and the food takes on its own quirky personality. Instead of adding rice vermicelli to summer rolls, locals add shredded pork skin coated in roasted rice powder, which mimics noodles in its appearance and (slightly chewy) texture.

 

The famous street noodle soup bánh canh Phan Thi?t is a great top-up after an evening meal, designed to keep hunger at bay and make for a sound sleep. The broth is either made from pork knuckles and trotters or with fish or crab, and is served with pork or dill fish cakes plus an array of seafood and condiments. It is wonderfully sweet and fresh with lime and fierce with chilies too. The dish is usually slurped from a spoon because its short, thick and transparent hand-rolled tapioca noodles fit right into it.

THE SOUTH: SÀI GÒN (HO CHI MINH)

Saigon Bun Thit Nuong Blue
The unmistakable fragrance of bún th?t n??ng comes from a mix of perilla, mint and coriander

Download Uyen Luu’s recipe for bún th?t n??ng

The Sai-Gonese prefer the non-noodle components of a dish to shine—like a piece of grilled pork, caramelized by sweet sticky sugar and smoked over charcoal with savory, pungent fish sauce. The treacle aroma of bún th?t n??ng (rice noodles with chargrilled meat) hovers around Sài Gòn every afternoon as skewer after skewer sizzles then drops onto bowls of fresh fluffy bún. They are then layered with an abundance of herbs such as perilla, mint and coriander, which are used with an assortment of salad leaves and crunchy pickles for color and garnish. Finally, n??c ch?m: that ultimate dressing of sweet, sour, salty and hot fish sauce that makes this noodle dish the supreme fast food of Sài Gòn.

No matter where you are in the country, noodles are here, there and everywhere. In a rapidly developing world, where fast food is infiltrating from the West, Vietnamese cuisine is still very much cherished by its people: from those in the rice paddies to those in the high-rise cities and seaside resorts. Not only are noodles vital to the diet, the dishes made with them represent place, celebrate culture and preserve tradition.

Download the recipe below and take a stab at making bún th?t n??ng at home. Share your food shots with us at #momentumtravel!

Photos: Styled and photographed by Uyen Luu

– See more at: http://momentum.travel/food-drink/geography-vietnamese-noodles/#sthash.Exp6AixQ.dpuf