Food & Drink

Recipes, cookbook reviews, interviews with chefs, culinary insights and wine columns
  1. How can you not love a book that has a section called “How to Choose a Cook”? In Five Treasures of Chinese Cuisine (1977), authors Flora Chang, from Fuzhou, Fujian province, and her friend Gaynell Fuchs, from Windsor, Connecticut, are being a little tongue-in-cheek when they write, “While it is doubtful if many of our readers will be in a position to hire a Chinese cook, some suggestions on how to judge a cook may come in handy when appraising one’s own efforts […]“In China the cook would be…
  2. One of the most popular dishes at Thai restaurants is grilled pork neck. It tastes best when grilled over coals for a smoky flavour, but it is delicious even when cooked in the oven, using the grill or broiler setting.Grilled pork neck is usually served with Thai sticky rice. It is also good as a salad, piled over lettuce leaves and fresh herbs – mint, Thai basil, coriander – and drizzled with nam jim jaew sauce.Thai grilled pork neck with nam jim jaew dipping sauceFresh coriander usually comes…
  3. How did you become a chef? “I fell in love with cooking at a young age and started my F&B [food and beverage] career at 15. I did not like academics and had no intention of furthering my studies in school.“As a junior cook, it was important to gain the trust of master chefs who were willing to pass on their precious skills. So I worked extra hours, helped the masters as much as I could and stayed in the kitchen when others were taking a break or sleeping. After a while, the masters just handed…
  4. What did you do before becoming a chocolatier? “In university I studied international public law and I have a master’s in taxation. My parents wanted me to work in a bank, so I did. But I found it boring. In my work I met entrepreneurs who seemed very joyful compared to us bankers.“I also saw the big transactions of cocoa and thought it’s fine to export cocoa, but not all of it. Two million tonnes of cocoa are exported from the Ivory Coast every year to big companies like Nestlé. It’s absurd…
  5. One morning about a year ago I spotted a headline that made my heart sink. It claimed eggs can give you a heart attack. It wasn’t that I was about to eat eggs for breakfast. Rather, it was because, as a medical journalist, I knew friends and family would soon be asking me what to make of this claim. And I would have a tough time answering. Advice about what to eat seems to change every week. Eggs are a classic example. They were once seen as whole­some packages of protein and vitamins, a…
  6. Many congee specialist shops have a short menu of snacks, in case customers want something more substantial than rice soup. The snacks include fried wonton, fried fish balls with salted clam sauce, fried noodles with soy sauceand a variety of poached fish, meats and offal. The poached dishes sound dull compared with the fried ones, but they are subtly delicious. Poached beef and bean sprouts with fried garlic and shallots This dish takes only about half an hour to cook, and most of that time…
  7. Thomas Keller became famous for The French Laundry, his fine-dining restaurant in Yountville, California. The American chef also has a second fine-dining restaurant, Per Se, in New York, but it is his Bouchon chain of casual French bistros that made his food accessible to those without deep pockets.In the introduction to Bouchon (2004), Keller writes, “Bistro cooking is my favour­ite food to eat. Roast chicken and a salad of fresh lettuces with a simple vinaigrette. Frisée salad with crisp,…
  8. Why did you decide to move to Hong Kong? “I wanted a fresh start. I was running a business in Cape Town and it got sabotaged in a way because I hit a guy. South Africa is still pretty racist. It’s going to need a few generations to loosen its stance on people of colour. Baked was quite successful but it was frowned upon because I wasn’t white.” What did you expect when you arrived in Hong Kong? “I came here not knowing anyone. All I had in my bag was my sourdough starter. I was held up in…
  9. Soy sauce prawns is a fast and easy dish that appears on the menu of many Cantonese seafood restaurants. This version has an ingredient you wouldn’t expect in a Chinese dish: butter. It adds a gentle richness to the sauce and contributes to its attractive shine.Soy sauce prawnsIt is essential to use white onion in this recipe, not the more common brown-skinned onion. White onion is sweeter, especially when it is barely cooked, as it should be for this dish. The onion should be cooked just until…
  10. What did you eat as a child? “I was into sports and dancing, so I ate whatever my mother considered healthy and appropriate for an active child: a lot of raw vegetables, pure proteins like cottage cheese, fresh ricotta or quickly grilled fish, and fruit. I learned to eat everything.”How did you get into the Yugoslavian youth national ski team? “I was six years old and on the first day of primary school we had to run. I forgot to bring my gym clothes and running shoes so I ran in my jeans and T…