Asia may be an exotic land far, far away but one woman has brought the colours and flavours of Vietnam to life in her Hackney kitchen. Come and have a taste...
For those in the know, the best and most authentic Vietnamese food in the capital isn’t found in a restaurant, but in the Hackney kitchen of food stylist, blogger and author Uyen Luu. Vietnam-born but a London resident for 30 years, Luu runs a supper club from her home with a menu that takes inspiration from the flavours of the cuisine she was introduced to by her food-loving family in Saigon.
Such is the popularity of Luu's Supper Club that she's launching a collection of recipes passed down through her family, called My Vietnamese Kitchen, later this year.
This recipe for a light and refreshing chicken salad with carrot, daikon, hot mint and coriander is a firm supper club favourite. “It’s the perfect Vietnamese dish,” Luu explains. “It’s all about satisfying the tongue's sweet, sour, salty and umami taste receptors, as well as being crunchy and silky in texture.”
HOW TO MAKE IT
1. Cook chicken thighs in a pot with a lid on with one litre of fresh cold water.
2. When the water boils (about seven minutes), remove the scum that surfaces then add a stock cube. The chicken cooks for 30 mins.
3. While the chicken is cooking, 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.
4. Peel and julienne the carrots and daikon and place in a salad bowl. Mix in two tablespoons of cider vinegar and one tablespoon of sugar to slightly pickle.
5. Chop the herbs and leave in a separate bowl.
6. Mix all the ingredients for the dressing together in a separate bowl, tasting for the balance of sweet, sour, salty and hotness. Add more chillies if you desire more spice.
7. When the chicken is cooked, leave to rest for up to ten minutes. De-bone the meat and tear along the grain. Add this to the bowl of carrot and daikon with the pickled onion (discard the vinegar juice). Add the dressing and the chopped herbs. Mix well together.
8. Garnish with a few sprigs of coriander and mints and a sprinkle of peanuts. Serve with prawn crackers.
UYEN LUU’S CHICKEN SALAD WITH CARROT, DAIKON, HOT MINT AND CORIANDER
Serves 4 Cooking Time: 30 mins Prep Time: 30 mins Total time: 40 mins
CHICKEN ◆ 3 (460g) skinned chicken thighs ◆ 1 litre of water ◆ 1 Knorr chicken stock cube
PICKLED ONION ◆ 1 medium red onion ◆ 3 tbsp cider vinegar (Aspall) ◆ 3 tsp caster sugar ◆ pinch of salt ◆ pinch of pepper
SALAD ◆ 250g carrots - julienne ◆ 200g daikon - julienne ◆ 2 tbsp cider vinegar ◆ 1 tbsp caster sugar ◆ 20g coriander - chopped ◆ 15g garden mint - chopped ◆ 15g hot mint (optional) - chopped ◆ 70g banana blossom - bought ready shredded (optional)
DRESSING ◆ 2 bird's-eye chillies (de-seeded and finely chopped) ◆ 1 clove garlic (finely chopped) ◆ 1.5 tbsp sugar ◆ 2 tbsp cider vinegar ◆ 2 tbsp premium quality fish sauce (try Three Crabs) ◆ 3 tbsp crushed or blended salted roasted peanuts
Uyen’s supper clubs are held almost every Friday at her flat in London Fields. She also holds Vietnamese cooking classes about three times a month. To book, go to leluu.com. My Vietnamese Kitchen is available for pre-order on Amazon and will be released in October, published by Ryland Peters & Small.