Interview: Red Lantern chef Luke Nguyen

What has influenced the way you cook and understand food?

I would have to say travel and culture has influenced the way I cook and understand food. I have spent the last ten years discovering regional Vietnamese food from the northern mountains of Sapa to the southern tip of the Mekong Delta, learning from street food vendors and home cooks. They show me old traditional cooking methods and recipes past down from generation to generation.

Make this at home - Galangal, Lemongrass & Turmeric Marinated Mulloway, Clinique's Super Skin Dish

What is your food philosophy?

My food philosophy is quite simple. Know where your produce comes from, understand what it can do to your body and when you cook it, take it slow, enjoy it and don’t be wasteful.

You cook authentic but modern Vietnamese dishes; do you try to always include foods that are good for the body?

Eating good food is a must for a healthy lifestyle, which is why Vietnamese cuisine in perfect. It is light, fresh, and delicate with flavors that are very well balanced using lots of raw herbs and vegetables. Almost all of my dishes comprise of ingredients that are cooling for your inner body.

The Clinique menu was a chance for me to showcase how good foods, can benefit your skin, and ultimately your whole body.

Try this Citrus Cured Salmon With Mandarin, Perilla & Black Rice Powder recipe

What types of foods are good for glowing skin?

Many ingredients used in Vietnamese cooking are great for the skin and they can all be found at your local Asian market.

As you will see for the dishes I especially designed for the Clinique Super Skin menu, ingredients such as the below are perfect for achieving that glowing skin.

- galangal
- lemongrass
- turmeric
- goji berries
- black rice
- perilla leaf
- ginger
- pomelo
- green papaya
- white fungus
- asparagus

Which foods are good for an energy boost?

- oats
- almonds
- apricots
- bananas
- brown rice
- lentils
- water spinach
- sesame seeds

Get the recipe for Soft Rice Paper Rolls with Green Mango, Asparagus & Enoki Mushrooms here

You promote ethical eating - how do you apply it to your food?

At Red Lantern all our produce is locally sourced. We use only sustainable seafood and use organic herbs and vegetables when available. We compost and recycle absolutely everything; we use chemical free cleaning products and save millions of litres of water by using a waterless wok cooking system.

What are your favourite ingredients to cook with?

Fresh herbs and vegetables that are picked that day from local growers.

What do you think is the most versatile superfood?

Definitely fish, as you can eat it raw, cured, steamed, panfried or roasted. It is packed with protein and omega three which is essential for a healthy immune system.

You set up the 'Little Lantern' foundation in 2009 for Vietnamese youths, do you teach the students about the different types of superfoods and where to use them?

It is sad to see that fast food chains have made it to Vietnam. This has resulted in overweight children, a huge issue that we have had in Australia for many years now.

I am currently in Vietnam teaching the kids to simply keep eating traditional Vietnamese food for it has so many healthy medicinal qualities to them.

To simply eat rice paper rolls filled with green mango, Vietnamese mint, lettuce, vermicelli, asparagus and enoki mushrooms instead of a greasy burger with deep fried chips.

For more information on how superfoods can improve skin quality CLICK HERE