Vietnamese Mint (rau râm), fresh from our Suffolk Garden

I launched Red Chilli Kitchen in Suffolk so others could taste some of the delicious recipes my mother would make in her Vietnamese kitchen. Vietnamese cuisine is fresh, fragrant and full of natural flavours which come from the subtle blend of herbs and spices and the use of the stronger chilli and garlic. Cooking and eating play an important role in Vietnamese culture.

So, as we say in Vietnam "Ăn Ngon" - Eat Well!

An indulgent, thick, rich jam blended with lemongrass and ginger. Ideal with stir-fries, cold meats, cheeses and seafood.

An aromatic fusion of chilli, ginger, garlic and lemongrass. Perfect with meats, seafood and tofu.

A spicy, fragrant marinade blended with lemongrass, star anise, paprika and cinnamon. Ideal with beef, chicken and tofu.

I was born in Phuoc Long, South Vietnam. Although my family was living during the latter part of the Vietnam War, life was good. Our house was situated at the foot of a beautiful mountain. There was a pond at the bottom of the garden and there was an abundance of mangos and rambutans growing in the trees. We grew herbs and vegetables and kept chickens and pigs. I would spend my days chasing dragon flies, hunting for eggs and hiding in the trees and eating the fruit. My mother owned a restaurant which was popular with the locals and weekenders who came to Phuoc Long wanting to escape the heat and hustle and bustle of Saigon.

However in 1975 the fighting came to our village and the invasion of South Vietnam by the North Vietnamese Army would change our lives forever. The North Vietnamese Army took their revenge on those who had shown any allegiance towards the South Vietnamese government and the Americans. As my father had been a translator for America's Green Berets, my family was singled out and he was sent to one of the infamous "re-education" camps.

As the years went by under the new regime life became unbearable and in 1984, at the age of 12 and without any other member of my family, I escaped Vietnam on a small fishing boat packed with over seventy other refugees. I like many others were the "Vietnamese Boat People". Between 1975 and 1995 approximately 2 million fled Vietnam. Many of those who tried to escape by boat did not survive. They were killed by pirates or died due to lack of water or over-crowded boats.

After 10 days drifting at sea with a broken propeller we were rescued and taken to Indonesia. After spending 7 months there in a children's home I was resettled in Denmark where I was eventually reunited with my family. Today I live in Suffolk with my husband and daughter.