Recipes from Luke Nguyen's The Food of Vietnam

Green beans stir-fried with oyster mushrooms, from Luke Nguyen's The Food of Vietnam (Hardie Grant).
Green beans stir-fried with oyster mushrooms, from Luke Nguyen's The Food of Vietnam (Hardie Grant). Photo: Supplied

Green beans stir-fried with oyster mushrooms and garlic

Oyster mushrooms are so versatile. They are named for their caps, which can fan out to 25 cm (10 inches) and are the shape of an oyster. These mushrooms have a sweet anise aroma and are wonderfully textured. If you want to keep this dish vegetarian, simply use soy or tamari sauce instead of oyster sauce.

SERVES 4–6 as part of a shared meal


1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

200g green beans, trimmed and cut into 5cm lengths

100g oyster mushrooms, torn in half

2 teaspoons light soy sauce

1 tablespoon oyster sauce

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

coriander (cilantro) sprigs, to garnish


Heat a large frying pan or wok over high heat. Add the vegetable oil and fry the garlic for 5–10 seconds, or until fragrant.

Add the beans and stir-fry for 2 minutes, then add the mushrooms, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, sesame oil and pepper. Toss for a further minute.

Transfer to a plate, garnish with coriander and serve.


Lemongrass chilli chicken

I cooked this dish in the garden of one of Hoi An's most beautiful restaurants, called Brother's Cafe. Built by the French in the early 1900s, it has the most spectacular landscaped garden along the river. Be sure to get a table outside in the evening to enjoy the view. The chefs there were easily able to source fresh young coconuts for me, but if you have to use tinned young coconut juice, omit the sugar in the recipe as tinned coconut juice contains added sugar.

SERVES 4–6 as part of a shared meal


3 tablespoons fish sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

2 lemongrass stems, white part only, finely diced

4 garlic cloves, finely diced

2 long red chillies, finely diced

500g boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

250ml young coconut juice

1/2 onion, cut into wedges

coriander (cilantro) sprigs, to garnish


In a mixing bowl, combine the fish sauce and sugar and mix until the sugar has dissolved. Add half the lemongrass, half the garlic, half the chilli and all of the chicken. Toss the chicken to coat, then cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour, or overnight for an even tastier result.

Heat a large saucepan or wok over medium heat. Add the oil and the remaining lemongrass, garlic and chilli and stir-fry for 1 minute, or until fragrant and slightly brown.

Increase the heat to high, then add the chicken and seal for 2 minutes on each side, or until browned all over.

Now add the coconut juice and onion. Cover and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced by half.

Transfer to a bowl, garnish with coriander and serve with steamed jasmine rice.