With a few tricks up his sleeve, Luke Nguyen's masterclass is hitting all the right notes.
9 Mar 2018 - 10:48 AM  UPDATED 9 Mar 2018 - 10:48 AM

Catch your breath

Now when you're wok-frying, you've got to make sure that wok is extremely hot. You want to embrace the "breath" of the wok - the breath being that smoky wok-flavour. Luke demonstrates the best technique to help you catch the breath of your wok. Once you've got it hot then get tossing with this cubed beef with black and green pepper stir-fry recipe.

Dress to impress

The classic Vietnamese dipping sauce, nuoc mam cham (or sometimes just called nuoc cham), is a balance of salty (from the fish sauce), sweet (from the sugar), zesty (from the lime juice) and chilli (from freshly diced red Birdseye). Serve it with soft rice paper rollscrisp pancakes, with your bun cha or on your deep-fried whole snapper.

No breakage here

Remember 1.5 and you'll never forget Luke's trick to rice paper roll genius.

Because rice paper can be overly delicate to handle, Luke recommends using 1.5 rice papers to a roll. Dunk it hot (not warm) water and not for too long. Now all you need is a filler - lucky we've got a prawn and pork version right here.

The sticky side of excellent rice

Steamed sticky rice is easily achievable in a domestic steamer basket. Drain and rinse 400 g of glutinous rice that has been soaked in cold water three times. Pour water into the bottom of your steamer and line the steaming section with muslin (cheesecloth). Place the rinsed rice on the cloth, cover with the lid and set on the stovetop over high heat. Steam for 15 minutes, then tip the rice over. Cook for another 5–15 minutes, or until the rice becomes translucent; take a small bite to check it is soft and chewy. (Sticky rice generally takes about 20–30 minutes of steaming all up.) 

If you have a sweet tooth then this super sweet recipe calls on black rice cooked in coconut cream, then served with more sweetened coconut cream and caramelised banana. This is one very memorable way to end any meal.

Don't leave fruit strand-ed

The trick to creating long, thin strands of green papaya for an authentic green papaya salad or green mango for a green mango salad is all in the handy work. A mandolin or peeler is your friend when it comes to keeping it fine. Peel your skin, then using a sharp knife quickly tap "slits" into your fruit, before using your peeler and creating easy strips ready for your salad.

Don't leaf banana behind

Banana leaf is an important ingredient in Vietnamese cooking and while you can't eat it, you can cook with it with ease. Steam it, char it, as long as you prepare it, you can reap the benefits from what's enclosed within this skin. The best way to work with the leaf is to tear it and then place it over a hot chargrill or in a hot frying pan for 1-2 minutes to soften it. Then let this dish of sea bass grilled in banana leaf  catch your eye and feed your belly.

Luke is back in his brand-new series Luke Nguyen's Food Trail airing Thursdays at 8pm on SBS. Visit the program page for recipes, videos and more.


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