This Vietnamese rice dish from Uyen Luu’s new book Simple Vietnamese Food to Cook at Home is packed full of nutrient-rich ingredients. 

No matter what time of year it is, it seems we can’t escape the onslaught of the common cold. Even when the sun’s out and the temperature is a balmy 27°C, lots of us are still struck down with stuffy noses and sore throats. And when that happens, the first thing you want to check is that your gut health and immune system are properly being supported. First stop? Loading up on vitamin-packed plants. 

This Vietnamese rice dish is the ultimate summer lunch – cool and crisp, and packed full of leafy green kale. One of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, kale contains four times the vitamin C and double the selenium content of spinach, as well as nutrients like vitamin E and beta-carotene.

All of these are important for supporting a healthy immune system and a happy gut.In fact, studies show that vitamin C encourages the production of white blood cells – helping to protect the body against infection. It’s also an essential part of the skin’s defence system, strengthening the skin’s barriersand even shortening wound healing time.

This orzo rice meal from Vietnamese chef Uyen Luu also contains another immune-supporting, gut-loving favourite: kimchi. The pickled vegetable is loaded with probiotic bacteria that are guaranteed to keep your microbiome happy. So, this lunch is a win all round.


(Serves 4) 

  • 50g orzo
  • ½ tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 round shallots, sliced
  • 30g ginger root, finely chopped
  • 10g butter
  • 250g summer kale varieties, sliced 2cm thick
  • 1 heaped tbsp kimchi, sliced 5mm thick
  • Pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Start by cooking the orzo according to the packet instructions in water seasoned with some sea salt.

Once cooked, reserve 75ml of the pasta water before draining.

On a medium heat in a large frying pan, add the oil, then the shallots and ginger and fry until golden then add the butter. Once it’s melted, add the kale, stir-fry to wilt then ladle in some hot pasta water. 

Watch it sizzle for 30 seconds then combine with the kimchi and cooked orzo. Season with salt and pepper.

Once the water has evaporated, it is ready to serve. 

Recipe courtesy of Vietnamese: Simple Vietnamese Food to Cook at Home by Uyen Luu (Hardie Grant, £22) 

Images: Uyen Luu 

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