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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LuuLuu’s Vietnamese – Food To Enjoy At Home

I have been hosting my Vietnamese supper club in Hackney for over 10 years but due to the pandemic, I have had to change things up. I am now making fresh home made Vietnamese food for everyone to eat at home. 

Every Saturday.

A small menu will change weekly. Orders can be picked up at Regent Studios in Hackney, just off Broadway Market at 1pm and 6pm. Then in Crouch End at 730pm. We can do local deliveries in these areas: N8, N6, N5, N4 please just ask if you are unable to pick up.

You are welcome to arrange your own courier should you not live in these areas.

We will try to work on our delivery system and offer this as we go on. We will aim to do more days by the end of September.

You can book here https://luuluu-s-vietnamese.myshopify.com

Please tell your friends and family who have enjoyed the supper club in the past and wish to order food. Thank you!

About the food

These are some of the Vietnamese classics that can be had in Vietnam in any household or every street corner. But when we arrived as refugees in the UK in the early 80s, we didn’t even think we could find rice. But of course, if you look hard enough, you can find anything and my mum used to make these for us to have as weekend treats, not only because they are so good and would make us so happy, it reminded her and us of home and the family we had to leave behind.

About the production

My mum has been lovingly growing all the fresh Vietnamese herbs in her garden in Dulwich and some of the vegetables are also homegrown by family and friends in their garden and allotments.

We buy free-range meat from a good quality butcher where animal welfare is top priority and that they are farmed with traditional methods.

Prep and cooking is done in Hackney at my kitchen studio.

Re-use/ Recycle

Please bring your own bags upon collection where possible.

I am very environmentally careful about the packaging that we use and recommend that you clean, reuse plastic tubs and recycle them. The paper boxes and bags are bio-degradable.

 

Recipe: Home-made Vietnamese Baguettes – Banh Mi

Banh mi – the actual baguette is my idea of eating heaven. It is light and fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside. The crust is golden and thin, it makes an irresistible crackling noise when its held and then bitten. French baguettes will do if you can make your own banh mi but it is not the same perfection. The Vietnamese baguettes (inspired by the French) brings so much joy to the bite once it is filled with different textures and flavours of meat, herbs, vegetables, spice and seasoning. It is the perfect sandwich in taste, in size and lightness. It is heavenly and if you can only eat these once in a while, most remain in your culinary memory forever. It is also great with just a spread of butter, or pate. Traditionally it is great to eat with curries or beef stews.
Someone on Instagram asked me to help them make these baguettes to help their business during the time of coronavirus. As it is also something I want to learn, I said I would help. After researching and viewing a few Vietnamese youtube videos on how to make banh mi, I decided Diễm Nauy  was going to help me make the best and most authentic banh mi. Click on her name if you can understand Vietnamese to see her video.
This is wholly her technique/ recipe, except I have translated and adapted it to a readable recipe here in the most concise and simplest way that I can so that we can all keep this, learn it by heart and make happy and enjoy the delights of the truly amazing Vietnamese banh mi-s. In time of writing, I have made this twice.
I have previously made banh mi and failed in the past, probably 8 years ago, from a couple of recipes in cook books.  I am really pleased now that I have found something that works. My cousin in California whose a trained chef has also made these with a few tweaks and it came out delightfully too.
Please note that it takes time to make these and that it is best to just follow the recipe as precisely as you can to achieve the best results. On your second batch, I recommend making double, give away, freeze, eat… 6 just isn’t enough!
I will list the method and ingredients in stages to make life easier.  More pictures will come at the end.
Equipment needed
Weighing scales
Medium sized bowl with cover
Free standing mixer with dough hook- if you don’t have, a large bowl and your hands will do
A rolling pin
2 tea towels
2 glasses or rice bowls
A kettle
1 baking tray that can hold a little water
A baking rack that fits the oven or a French baguette tray
3 tins or cans of unopened canned food.
A piece of baking paper that fits the rack
Scissors or a hole puncher
A sharp knife to score
Water sprayer
A timer
Advance note:
Please know how long it takes your oven to heat up to 240c fan. Mine takes 7 mins. If you know this, you will save a lot of time and energy.
STAGE ONE:
Starter
Make starter overnight to be ready for the morning, it needs to sit for 8-10 hrs at room temperature. It will then take about 4-5 hours to complete the process so if you want them for lunch, do the maths.
Ingredients
Starter
150g strong white flour or anything with protein content between 11 – 13%
half tsp salt
2g instant yeast
90g cold water
Method
  1. Mix together and knead for about 2 mins. Cover in a large Tupperware box for 8-10 hrs at room temperature or 24hrs in the fridge. If it has been in a fridge, leave at room temperature for at least an hour before you want to use it.
STAGE TWO:
Combine ingredients
You need strong white flour or anything with protein content between 11 – 13% (so you can use plain flour but I’ve not tested that, Diem Nauy has used plain in her video)
Ingredients
Makes 6 baguettes
300g strong white flour + a little for dusting
1.5 tsp instant yeast (or the rest of the sachet if your yeast comes in those)
1 tsp heaped sea salt (I used Maldon, be careful table salt might be saltier)
1 tbsp / 10g cooking oil
1 egg + cold water to make up 190g in total, mixed.
The starter you made previously.
Method
  1. Place all the ingredients in the free standing mixing bowl with a dough hook and knead on the lowest setting for 15 mins.
If you don’t have a mixer, please try with your hands and combine until you get a very smooth and elastic dough. It should still be wet and sticky, try to only use a little flour for dusting.
2. Oil the bowl lightly, place the dough inside, cover and place in the oven with 300ml of boiling water for 75 mins.
I leave a note on the oven door to tell everyone not to open the oven to maintain the warm humidity inside.
STAGE THREE:
Shaping
  1. Place a clean tea towel on a baking tray, lightly dust with flour then make three one inch increments leaving 5cm of space apart for 6 doughs. You can use a few tins or cans at the bottom to stop the towel from falling out of place.
  2. After 75mins, the dough should have risen and at least doubled in size. Lightly dust a clean surface and roll the dough out into a square shape with your hands. Fold in all the corners until you have a ball, turn it upside down and keep shaping the dough into a round ball. Repeat. Twice is fine.
  3. As fast as you can, (so it doesn’t dry out) divide the dough into 2 and then each into 3, making 6 balls. Take each ball and stretch out into a square, folding in itself the corners then shape into a ball. Rest on the tea towel tray for 5 mins.
  4. After 5 mins, repeat the previous process and rest again for 5 mins.
  5. Lightly dust the rolling pin, after 5 mins is up, roll out a dough into a pear shape, small at the top and fat at the bottom then roll from the top down firmly with 3 fingers from each hand. Then continue to roll the dough into a long baguette shape with both hands giving more force on the ring and little finger to make pointy ends. Place onto the tea towel tray.
  6. Repeat with the other doughs.
  7. Cover the shaped doughs with a tea towel. Place in the oven with 2 glasses of boiling water to prove for 60 mins. Display your note so no one opens the oven.
  8. Get the next stage ready while you wait. (You can also make fillings and prep herbs and veg)
STAGE FOUR:
Baking
  1. If you don’t have a baguette tray, take a baking rack that fits the oven, measure out the same size baking paper, fold it into 1 inch folds and cut tiny triangle shapes along the paper on both edges, 1 inch apart. If you have a hole puncher, this will be easier and quicker. This is so that the steam can distribute evenly later on. Fold it out and lay the paper on the baking rack.
  2. Place a tray that can hold water at the bottom of the oven.
  3. After 60 mins, take the proved dough out of the oven. Take the glasses out too.
  4. Heat the oven to 240c (don’t forget!)
  5. Carefully place the doughs gently on the paper on the rack. They will feel irresistibly soft and pillowy, like clouds.
  6. Spray with water and immediately, with a sharp knife, slit the baguette lengthways at a 45 degree angle, half centimetre deep all the way.
  7. With hope, your oven is ready, turn the heat down to 230c 
  8. Fill the bottom tray with 200ml of boiling water – this is the right amount of water and steam it needs
  9. Bake it immediately, it needs 18 mins altogether but stand with a water spray and spray it evenly every 5 minutes.
  10. After 18 mins total cooking time, the baguettes are done. Take it out.
  11. It should be golden. Leave to cool for 10 mins.
  12. Slit the waist lengthways and fill it up with all your desires.
Banh mi will go stale quite quickly. Eat them up as soon as you bake them or I keep them in an airtight container overnight and re bake for a few minutes in a hot oven to get it fresh again. I have also been told they freeze well.
You can find my recipe for a whipped omelette baguette with peas and asparagus in M&S’s kitchen notes here
If you can’t make the baguettes just buy regular French baguettes.
There are a couple of other filling recipes in my book My Vietnamese Kitchen which you can buy directly from me here
Here are the picture references to help along the way. It would be great to see your baking! Please post and tag me on your social media posts @loveleluu 

 

Brunch banh mi

As featured in Marks & Spencer

For something deliciously different for your brunch, try food writer Uyen Luu’s egg banh mi – a Vietnamese sandwich with soft herby omelette in a crusty baguette with pickled carrot, cucumber and chilli.

Ingredients (serves 2)

1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
Juice of ½ lime
1 tsp caster sugar
1 M&S baguette
1 tbsp cooking oil
50g leeks, finely sliced
1 shallot
40g peas
40g spinach, sliced
40g cabbage, sliced
4 eggs
4 tbsp M&S teriyaki sauce
Butter
Sliced cucumber, coriander, sliced spring onion, sliced chilli, to serve

Mix the carrot with the lime juice and sugar in a bowl and set aside.

Separate the egg yolks and whites into two bowls. Add the spinach and cabbage to the yolk bowl with the teriyaki sauce and mix. Whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks, then fold into the yolk and greens.

Cut the baguette in half and scoop out some of the dough. Stuff the hollow baguette with the garnishes and carrot pickle.

Cook the leeks, peas and shallots in a large pan over a medium heat with one tbsp oil until soft. Pour over the egg mixture. Every 30 seconds, fold the whipped omelette over in half and keep folding in all directions until cooked. Stuff the omelette into the baguettes.

 

Photo by Tara Fisher

Pork belly braised in coconut milk & fish sauce with ginger, chillies & cavolo nero

Written for Waitrose Magazine. I am so pleased that so many have written to say that they have been using this recipe again and again . Its one of my favourites!

Serves 6

Prepare 20 minutes

Cook 1 hour 30 minutes

3 tbsp coconut oil

1 onion, sliced into quarter rings

3 garlic cloves, crushed

30g fresh root ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks

1kg pork belly, skin removed

1 tbsp chilli flakes (more or less, depending on how hot you want it)

400g can coconut milk

2-3 tbsp fish sauce

1 tbsp honey (optional)

200g cavolo nero or kale, tough stalks discarded and sliced into 2.5cm pieces

1 Heat the oil in a large frying pan and sauté the onion and garlic over a medium heat for about 6 minutes, until softened; tip onto a plate and set aside.

2 Meanwhile, slice and prepare the pork belly, trimming off any excess fat but leaving some for taste and texture. Cut into 2.5cm chunks and add to the pan to brown off on all sides, about 10 minutes in total (you may need to do this in batches). Return the onions and garlic, add the chilli flakes, mix well and continue to cook for about 10 minutes.

3 Add the coconut milk and simmer to reduce for 30 minutes. Then add fish sauce and continue to simmer for a further 30 minutes with the lid on, stirring occasionally.

4 When ready to serve, mix through the honey (optional), season with plenty of black pepper, and add the cavolo nero. Cook for 5 minutes with the lid on, then serve with steamed rice.

Phở  Xào

Phở  Xào
Adapted recipe, originally written for Guardian Feast.
‘Phở’ means flat rice noodles. ‘Xào’ means to fry.  You can use an array of vegetables that are available to hand or in season. Here I am using Jerusalem artichokes and sugar snap peas but you can use any crunchy vegetable, sliced not too thick and not too thin. If you can’t get celery leaves or not a fan, please use Thai basil or coriander instead.
The photo recipe is without beef. The written recipe is with beef but please feel free not to use beef.
If you are, please try to use grass fed, free range beef only as I feel really strongly against industrial corn fed beef farming. (Cows are not meant to eat corn, they are supposed to eat grass. When they eat corn, they are really sick and yet this is how we produce industrial beef) If you can not get hold of it, please don’t use beef and substitute with tofu or leave them both out.
Ingredients
Serves 2-3

INGREDIENTS

  • For the Stir Fry
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 250 g free-range, grass fed sirloin or rump or rump tip sliced into 1cm thick strips
  • 100 g sugarsnap peas, sliced lengthways (or mange tout, courgette slices)
  • 50g celery leaves and tips
  • 70g Jerusalem artichoke, peeled, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 ladles of pho stock, white wine, beef stock or water
  • 2 pinch of black pepper
  • 3 garlic clove, sliced
  • 400 g fresh rice noodles, separated or rehydrated dry noodles, cooked aldente
  • 80 g beansprouts
  • Thai basil garnish (optional)
  • Coriander garnish (optional)

METHOD

  1. Slice the beef and marinade with 1 tbs of oyster sauce and 1 tbs of soy sauce, black pepper and garlic. Prep the vegetables.
  2. Heat a dash of oil in a large frying pan or wok over high heat until very hot, then fry the steak for a minute before adding Jerusalem artichoke, sugar snap peas and celery leaves. Add 1 tablespoon of the oyster sauce, 1 tablespoons of the soy sauce, a dash of leftover pho stock  for a couple of minutes or until the steak is cooked as you like it. Season with black pepper.   Transfer the contents of the pan onto a plate and allow to rest.
  3. Heat another dash of oil in the same pan again, then stir-fry the onion for a minute. Add the noodles and the remaining oyster and soy sauces. Stir-fry for a couple of minutes. Add the beansprouts and a dash more leftover pho stock. Stir-fry for a further minute. Transfer onto serving plates with the beef and vegetables. Serve immediately with Thai basil or coriander garnish.

If you are using tofu, slice into 1.5cm x 3cm cubes, gently fry in a shallow oil with a pinch of salt until golden on each side then marinade as above.

For more Pho recipes, visit The Guardian – here are 6 of my best Pho recipes

Above photography by for The Guardian by Uyen Luu, Food Styling by Joanna Resiak. Prop styling: Anna Wilkins

Soy aubergines with spring onions and chillies

Steam the aubergines and make the sauce in advance then this only needs to be fried when you are ready to serve. These are great with rice, on top of rice vermicelli, cold with ciabatta. And of course, a delicious side dish. You can adjust the heat accordingly, add your favourite herbs and spices and create a different aubergine dish every time. Just follow this basic recipe and next time adapt!
If you get Cyprus aubergines, it has purple and white stripes, they are extra extra extra good!
(Originally written for Waitrose Magazine)
Serves 4
Ingredients
2 large aubergines
30g butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 large red chillies
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
2 spring onions, finely sliced
30g butter
Sauce
2 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp cider vinegar
1 tbs chilli sauce
1 garlic cloves, finely
2 tsp maple syrup
You will need
Steamer
Large frying pan or wok
Method
Cut the aubergines into one inch cubes and fit in a boiling steamer for 5 minutes. Set aside and repeat if necessary.
Prepare the sauce by stirring all the ingredients in a bowl or shake in a jar.
Make sure the pan or wok is very hot on high heat, add butter, shallots, chillies and garlic. Cook for about a minute then add the aubergines to stir fry for about 4 minutes, charring the edges. Then pour over the prepared sauce and mix in all the spring onions and continue to stir fry and cook for a minute.
Serve immediately.