• Vietnamese beef pho (Alan Benson)Source: Alan Benson
Luke Nguyen's food has taken us across Vietnam, France, China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and the United Kingdom. It's fair to say that choosing favourites is going to be challenging...
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28 Oct 2020 - 1:51 PM  UPDATED 28 Oct 2020 - 1:51 PM

Straight out with it: this list was almost impossible to put together. It's taken ages to decide what recipes to include because they are all favourites - all circa 400 of them. Luke Nguyen has possibly never written a ho-hum recipe in his life.

Take, for example, Luke's recipe for Cantonese fried noodles. It's simple Hong Kong egg noodle and soy dish that's generally served for breakfast but is good any time of the day. It takes less than 15 minutes to prepare. So far, great recipe, but a favourite?

SBS Food writer Bron Maxabella randomly made this dish for her children about six months ago and has not escaped a single week since without a kid asking whether it's on the menu tonight. Yes, child, it's on the menu. It's always on the menu now.

Here's to recipes that confidently guide us around the world.

Luke's addictive dishes are all those kinds of favourites. To narrow things down, we've focused on Vietnamese cooking, though you'll find lists of other cuisines Luke's excelled at throughout. Here's to recipes that confidently guide us around the world.

Cantonese fried noodles

Super easy, super fast and super simple - even if Bron's kids weren't keen, Cantonese fried noodles would still be one of her favourite family dinners.

Bun cha

One from Luke Nguyen's Railway Vietnam, bun cha brings pork, rice noodles, herbs and fish sauce together in one life-affirming bowl. Proof that Luke can turn a daunting list of ingredients into an achievable recipe you'll soon have on high repeat.

Com ga

The signature street dish of Hoi An is given the Luke treatment and the result is the tastiest chicken dish you're ever likely to eat. Ever bold Vietnamese flavour is represented and it all comes together beautifully. In true Luke style, the ingredients list is twice as long as the method.

Luke can turn a daunting list of ingredients into an achievable recipe you'll soon have on high repeat.

Caramelised pork belly

This meltingly-tender pork belly is the result of 15 minutes of effort combined with an hour and a half on the stovetop. In other words, it's the kind of dish that warms you twice.

Luke cooked this dish on Luke Nguyen's United Kingdom. Here are five other favourite recipes from his travels:

Neil’s pho pie

“I met an award-winning artisan pie maker named Neil Broomfield, who was inspired by my Vietnamese pho recipe and decided to make a pie version of the traditional beef noodle soup. The result was stunning. The recipe makes more broth than you will need for these pies, but it freezes well and will never go to waste.” Luke Nguyen, Luke Nguyen's United Kingdom

Raspberry cranachan

“This traditional Scottish dessert dates back to the 18th century. A very quick dish to prepare, it's simply made from fresh raspberries, cream, honey, oatmeal and of course, Scottish whisky. Instead of raspberries, you could use strawberries or blueberries.” Luke Nguyen, Luke Nguyen's United Kingdom

Cheese sticks with broad bean dip

“This broad bean and mint dip is so simple, yet vibrant in color and very tasty. Its light, tangy flavour goes really well with the crisp cheese sticks. Named after the Roman fort on Hadrian’s wall, Birdoswald cheese is one of several cheeses made by local artisans in Cumbria. It is a hard cheddar style of cheese with a mature yet creamy flavour. If you can’t find it, substitute with any type of cheddar or Gruyere cheese.. ” Luke Nguyen, Luke Nguyen's United Kingdom

Carrot roulade with herb cream cheese filling

“Cream cheese pairs with cumin, chives and parsley to become a luscious filling for this easy vegetarian roulade. Paired with a light green salad, it works just as well as a main course, as it does a light entrée.” Luke Nguyen, Luke Nguyen's United Kingdom

Mary’s Cornish pasty

“Few meals have roots as deep as the Cornish pasty, a hand-held meat-and-vegetable pie developed as a lunch for workers in the tin mining region of Cornwall. With its semicircular shape and an insulating crust that can double-duty as a handle, then pasties helped sustain the miners through their long working days. Today, the humble Cornish pasty receives special designation, along with Champagne and Parma ham, as a protected regional food by the European Union.” Luke Nguyen

Beef pho

Luke says he craves this dish whenever he's in Vietnam, little wonder when he grew up eating a bowl of pho a day. This recipe is the Hanoi version, but you can find Luke's childhood pho recipe here:

Beef and rice noodle soup (pho bo)

When my parents had a pho restaurant in Cabramatta I would eat a bowl of pho every day! My father still to this day works on his cooking technique and tweaks the spices to further improve his heavenly broth. 

Mushroom hotpot

It's worthwhile making Luke's mushroom stock to form the base for this hotpot, but you can shortcut it and use store-bought if you need to. That said, making it yourself takes about 10 minutes as long cooking times are not required for vegetarian stock. You can tuck into this warming dish in around half an hour either way.

Chicken curry

A Nguyen family favourite, make a double-batch of this easy chicken curry so you're off the hook for dinner tomorrow night. Like many good curries, it will taste even better on day two or even three.

It's the kind of dish that warms you twice.

Crab in tamarind

Using cooked crab cuts the cooking time for this recipe down to a mere 10 minutes. The sauce is all Vietnam, mixing mint, coriander, fish sauce, honey and tamarind. Luke suggests serving this dish with a cold beer on a hot day, though we suspect it would be equally good with a warming glass of whisky on a cold one.

Luke made this dish while in France for Luke Nguyen's France. Here are a few more faves he made during the show:

Crepes with chocolate sauce (crêpes sauce chocolat)

There must be more than a thousand creperies in Saint-Malo. This is because this is where crepes originated. I was lucky enough to visit one of the oldest creperies in town, and was shown this very simple but tasty chocolate crepe. Now don’t just use Nutella like so many creperies do - make your own chocolate sauce.

Galettes with ham and eggs (galettes jambon oeuf)

A galette is basically a savoury crepe. They are traditionally served with ham and eggs, however you can fill them with anything you like. Although it may seem quite easy to make a crepe, there is great skill to it, so you may need a few goes to get the thinness of the crepe right.

Pan-fried baby sole (sole poêlée)

My first experience with baby sole was at the main market in Île d'Oléron: this particular variety of sole can only be found around this island. The meat is so delicate and sweet, so you don’t have to do too much to it - a bit of lemon, butter and salt and it's done.

Merlu soup with asparagus and peas (merlu koskera)

This traditional soup from the Basque region of France is made with local merlu fish, asparagus, peas and parsley. This recipe takes only 30 minutes to prepare, cook and serve – of course, crusty bread is a perfect accompaniment.

Stuffed sardines (sardines farcies)

Various recipes for stuffed sardines can be found along the stretch of Ligurian Sea coast between France and Italy. Use very fresh sardines for the fullest flavour.

Fried fish cakes

Who doesn't love a fish cake? Especially one that is this easy to make and loaded with tasty Vietnamese flavour. These little morsels aren't spicy, though you are free to add as much chilli as you can handle. Make loads and freeze for later.

Lijiang baba

Okay, so this last recipe isn't Vietnamese. Luke made Lijiang baba during Luke Nguyen's Greater Mekong as he travelled through the northwest part of China's Yunnan province. While there are many recipes from the show we would like to feature here, it had to be this one. We made it for lunch a few weeks ago and haven't been able to stop thinking about it since. Move over Cantonese noodles, there's a new favourite in town...

More recipes from the Mekong to bring us home:

Claypot cola chicken

In the countryside in Cambodia this is actually a really fantastic premium dish that a local might cook for their friends and family. It's a rustic chicken recipe but made using cola (which is quite expensive for a local person to buy). Chef Luke Nguyen recommends cooking this in a traditional clay pot if you can get your hands on one.

Beef wok-tossed in Lao whiskey
Lucky red braised pork belly

This dish is just one of a traditional eight-course banquet. Chinese food is all about balance, so each dish works together. This is a clean, light pork belly soup to compliment the other foods served as part of the banquet.

Uyghur spicy beef skewers

Marinated in a blend of spices including cumin, chilli, ginger, coriander and nutmeg, the fragrance of these spicy beef skewers as they cook on the chargrill make this dish a definite crowd-pleaser. "The longer you marinate the beef" says chef Luke Nguyen, "the more tender and flavoursome the meat will be".

Green papaya salad

Luke Nguyen shares a spicy salad recipe, with the bold Thai flavours of chilli, garlic, dried shrimp and fish sauce, pounded together using a mortar and pestle, with fresh snake beans, tomatoes and crunchy grated green papaya.

All Luke, always
Mr Thomas’s corned beef hash

“Hash is a dish consisting of diced or chopped meat, potatoes, and spices that are mixed together and then cooked either alone or with other ingredients such as onions. The name is derived from the French verb hacher (to chop). Corned beef hash became very popular in countries outside of the UK - including France - during and after World War II, as rationing limited the availability of fresh meat. When corning your own beef, make sure you buy your meat from a good quality butcher.” Luke Nguyen, Luke Nguyen's United Kingdom

Asian beetroot soup

“This delicious, healthy soup is super easy to make, looks stunning and marries the earthy sweetness of beetroot with the light aromatics of Thai flavours. Even beetroot-phobes will love this!” Luke Nguyen, Luke Nguyen's United Kingdom

Rhubarb and chocolate crumble

“Willie Harcourt-Cooze is well known for his TV show called ‘Willie’s Wonky Chocolate Factory’, however, his factory is far from wonky - I was actually blown away by it. Willie produces the best chocolate in the country and is incredibly passionate about the industry. Here is his rustic rhubarb chocolate crumble using his own 100 per cent cacao chocolate.” Luke Nguyen, Luke Nguyen's United Kingdom

Salt and pepper cuttlefish

Salt and pepper cuttlefish is a crowd favourite and popular at parties. It’s quite easy to do – you’ll just need to allow a few minutes to cook it fresh as your guests arrive. This recipe will serve four people as a starter.

Vietnamese steak tartare

In this recipe, traditional French steak tartare, which is made with minced beef and served raw with egg yolk and seasoning, is given a Vietnamese makeover with the addition of Asian herbs and seasonings. The egg yolks used are quail, and it is dressed with a signature Vietnamese nuoc mam cham.

Slow-braised pork hock with star anise and cassia

This pork hock recipe will fill your home with heavenly aromas as it slowly cooks. The finished result is meltingly tender pork with a fantastic sauce. Serve with rice as part of a shared meal.

Tea-infused sticky sesame dumplings

Tea hasn't always been used for drinking. It's been used as medicine, money and as for food. In this recipe Luke Nguyen uses his fresh green tea leaves to infuse his sweet sesame dumplings.

Dali vegetarian rice noodle stir-fry

This crispy Chinese vegetable stir-fry has lots of texture and flavour. With pickled chilli and chilli oil, it has a spicy kick.