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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Pancake Day Inspiration: Bánh Xèo

As previously published in The Huffington Post: The Best Pancakes Are Bánh Xèo: No Diary, No Gluten, No Egg, No Sugar, No Guilt – Coconut Crepes

070_RPS1637_viet_crepe_5476Banh Xeo recipe from My Vietnamese Kitchen by Uyen Luu here
Photography by Clare Winfield, published by Ryland Peters & Small

There is so much talk nowadays about the need for things to be “healthy” gluten free this and sugar free that which lends a great hand to the South East Asian cuisines where the food is “healthy” already without meaning to be, without trying to be, without any sacrifice or disguises.

The Vietnamese, Thai & Cambodians eat a delicious crêpe as a snack (bánh xèo in Vietnamese. It translates as sizzling cakes from the sizzle in the pan). It is mainly enjoyed in the evenings with a few beers and a horde of friends.

Bánh Xèo
The light, crispy and delicate crêpes are usually filled with pork, prawns and beansprouts however clams, scallops and an array of seafood offerings are also favourites. The batter is made from rice flour, coconut milk, coconut water (or regular water), spring onions and turmeric – which gives its yellow eggy colour. It is a canvas in which you can add anything you like to it.

The filling is usually fried off for a minute or so in a very hot but small frying pan. Then a thin layer of batter is poured over and swivelled around to cover all the surfaces of the pan then covered with a lid immediately for all the ingredients to be steamed and cooked. After another minute or so, the lid is then removed so that the batter can become golden and crispy. It is then folded over and served immediately.

How to eat bánh xèo
To eat the crêpe, you will need an abundance of lettuce leaves, herbs such as mint, perilla, coriander, chives and so on. A slice of crêpe is placed on a lettuce leaf in the palm of your hand, then rolled up with lots of herbs and dipped into a fish sauce-based dipping sauce (There is sugar in my n??c ch?m recipe but if you have to, you can substitute it with raw honey or maple syrup)

Eat with friends
These crêpes are perfect for a dinner party, summer barbecue or Pancake Day. Get a couple of table stoves out and make them at the table. Arrange herbs and raw ingredients on the table for everyone to cook their own.

Coconut oil
Although the crêpes are gluten free and you eat them with plenty of salad and herbs, they can still be a little naughty because they are fried in a lot of oil. I’ve found a way to make them less unruly by using Extra Virgin Vita Coco Coconut Oil. It has many medicinal properties known to be really good for you, helps your body burn more fat as well as being a good cleanser of harmful things in the body. What a bonus to making pancakes taste even better than they already do.

Try these sweet crêpes for breakfast, dessert or snacks
Coconut Crêpes with Maple and Blood Oranges by Uyen Luu – recipe here

These use coconut water, coconut milk and coconut oil. You can be all gluten-free, diary-free, egg-free, sugar-free and vegan without meaning to be when you are serving these crêpes inspired by the Vietnamese bánh xèo.

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Photography by Uyen Luu
Handmade spoons, plates and bowls by Ana Kana
Marble board & tea towel by Aria London

My Recipe: Phở Bò

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Adapted from My Vietnamese Kitchen

How to eat Pho like a Vietnamese:
Breathe in the beautiful scented broth then taste, unadulterated by any condiments. Next squeeze on some lemon or lime and add your favoured condiments and garnishes and mix with chopsticks and a spoon. Pile all the ingredients onto your spoon and slurp away, bringing the bowl to your mouth and drinking every last sip of broth.

You can go without most of the garnishes but using the right type of noodle is very important. It is essential to use flat rice noodles. In Vietnam, you can order extra noodles. Don’t forget, this is a breakfast dish and therefore lots of carbohydrates are required to keep you going for the day.

A choice of garnishes should be on the side with lemon/lime wedges. You should never serve the soup with the lime wedges inside the bowl or put your squeezed pieces into it.

Tear herbs such as sawtooth and basil into the bowl of soup, adding pre blanced or raw beansprouts if desired and fresh chillies to your level of hotness.

Ph? Bò – Beef Noodle Soup

pho ingredients

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Riding The Carousel

Uyen Luu10 Carousel JamesOJenkinsI have the chef bug. I loved my week at Carousel at the beginning of 2015. Carousel is a restaurant which has a continuous change of the best chefs from all over the world taking residence for a couple of weeks at a time in London’s West End, Marylebone.

When she planted the idea and suggested I do a short stint there, Melissa Hemsley had to endure my backwards and forward eagerness and reluctance. I am not a chef, I kept saying, I don’t know if I can do it! Being a chef is so different from being a home cook! Plus I was in acute distress at the idea of people coming to eat my food and judge it. What if I just muck everything up? What if something happens and everything I have built will fall apart?

Nights of fear and apprehension plagued my sleep.

Feel the fear! Said Melissa. And do it! Do it anyway!

Ok, I said, biting the bullet. I’ll do it.

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Uyen Luu9 Carousel JamesOJenkins

Being a chef, (only for a week) was one of the most tiring times of my life, even though I had a couple of chefs helping and a KP and my assistant Jenny Brown (and thanks to Rosie Birkett for 2 nights help too). It was exhausting and laborious. It is work for strong, robust people with stamina and strength of youth and vigour.

At home, I would make things in small batches, at Carousel, I learnt how to make army batches in massive pots and pans that weighed ten fold of densities I am used to. I watched Rebecca crack 50 eggs, she doesn’t mess around, she makes things in mammoth sizes as well as multitask the constantly ignited flaming stove.

Carousel LondonRead More

Carousel Presents Uyen Luu

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I’ve never worked in a restaurant before, never mind being a chef in one. But I thought I would follow a bit of my friend Melissa Hemsley‘s way in 2015: “FEEL THE FEAR AND DO IT ANY WAY!” Its about time I stop hiding out in my East London home kitchen. Because of Melissa’s recommendation to Carousel, (who are a permanent residence in Marylebone – they have new chef residence for short periods of time), I decided to face a whole week of cheffing. I am slightly terrified even though I know I am going to really enjoy it.

When I watch Masterchef, I just think, I can never do that and I don’t want to be anything I am not which is “cheffy” cooking via sous vide or with nitrogen and weird gadgets. I just want to cook, the way my mum cooks, the way my grandmother cooked – with fire and water.

 

So here goes:

Chicken Stock Congee with Chopped Chicken, Dill, Sprout Top and Pork Floss

Summer Rolls with King Prawns, Green Mango, Perilla, Cockscomb, Coriander and Mint with Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce
Seared Tuna on Watercress and French Bean Salad, Butter and Pistachio Fish Sauce Dressing and Crushed Salty Chips with Wasabi Mayo
Pigs Trotter and Lemongrass Noodle Soup with Beef, Lemongrass, Banana Blossom, Morning Glory and Vietnamese Ham
Avocado and Coconut Ice Cream Cake with Pandan Chiffon Cake layers, Lime Curd, Chocolate, Shavings, Avocado Custard, Crushed Meringue and Star Fruit
Please book with Carousel here
Here are some photos of my menu testing – hope you can make it. Do say hi to me in the kitchen xxx
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My Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube Video- Summer Rolls

Watch my video on Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube Vietnamese Summer Rolls- Please press the LIKE button on it and leave a comment of what you’d like to see me making next on there too. I would love to do some more filming with Jamie’s FoodTube.

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Thanks so much to Jamie Oliver, whom I met at The Big Feastival, when I cooked there at The Big Feastival Supper Club. He suggested that I get myself on FoodTube and made it all happen.

I filmed this one morning when they had 1.5 hr slot for me in one of Jamie’s filming kitchens at Fifteen, off Old Street. It was so cool to have my own food stylist, Jodene Jordan who arranged all the ingredients and props, making sure I had what I needed. (This is usually my job!)

The crew were so encouraging and guiding me of my lines because of course I kept forgetting what I was on about, what I was even doing and getting tongue tied.

I demonstrate summer rolls all the time at my cooking classes but it was another thing talking to camera. I just have to learn that the camera is another person!

Hopefully, if everyone likes the video, they would have me back on there. Jamie told me that he would really like to upload the film of me and him in my kitchen a few years ago.

You can also subscribe to my YouTube Channel here and Vimeo here (where I make more arty stuff)