Food & Drink

Recipes, cookbook reviews, interviews with chefs, culinary insights and wine columns
  1. How did you get interested in cooking? “After World War II, my grand­parents divorced and my grandmother married again. My step-grandfather knew how to cook Western food and in the 1940s he opened two cafes in Kyushu. He could make simple dishes like omelettes, steak, hamburgers.“Growing up in a small village in Kyushu, Western food was uncommon, so eating his food was such an amazing experience. When I tasted demi-glace for the first time, I felt lucky. At five years old, I was too young to…
  2. In the lead-up to the holiday season, friends and family are hosting everything from casual barbecues and BYOB parties to extravagant catered dinners. These fried wontons with sweet-and-sour dipping sauce are delicious and, as finger food, suitable for all but the most formal occasions.Fried wontonsThis recipe makes a lot of wontons, but your guests will love them. If it’s too many for your party, freeze the wontons you don’t cook and, once solid, store them in ziplock bags in the freezer. When…
  3. What are your childhood memories of your parents’ trattoria in Argenta, Italy? “I remember my mum rolling dough for tagliatelle and making baked pasta. I also remember the smell of roasted potatoes. The trattoria was a familiar environment.“I was very young when I started helping my parents, mostly serving dishes to customers. That was where I learned to understand customers. There is a proper way to convince people to eat good food. In all the restaurants I worked at, I always had a one-on-one…
  4. Although Korean cuisine is usually associated with meaty barbecue, that is an occasional treat in South Korea, not something that is consumed every day. Korean food is in fact healthy because it incor­por­ates a multitude of vegetables, many of which are fermented (and there­fore great for digestion) and served as kimchi or as the banchan side dishes essential to Korean meals. Doenjang chigae (also spelled jigae) is a thick soup that’s chock-full of vegetables. This version takes less than 10…
  5. I love Chinese breakfasts of macaroni soup noodles, served at inexpensive restaurants. The dish comes with various toppings, including a thin slice of ham (or a thicker slice of pan-fried canned luncheon meat, such as Spam) and a fried egg, in a monosodium gluta­mate-heavy broth. My favourite version has thin slivers of pork cooked with zha choi (also known as zha cai), or Sichuan preserved mustard stem. I also like it with sausage and egg, but I make it with Taiwanese pork sausage instead of…
  6. You went to business school before deciding to become a chef. What made you change your mind? “I was good at school, so all my teachers pushed me to go to university and my family wanted it as well. I went to Bocconi, in Milan, the most famous university in Italy for economics. I was pushed by my surroundings, rather than following my passion. I used to cook at home, with family and friends. At 24, I decided to go back to what I loved to do – cooking.”How did you go about it? “I took my…
  7. Tell us about your childhood. “I learned the importance of the quality of food when I was very young. My family has a farm [in Telese Terme, in south­western Italy’s Campania region] and we made salami, jam and marmalade; we ate vegetables from the garden; we raised chickens, rabbits, turkeys, pigeons and lambs. I didn’t drink milk from a carton until I was six years old; up until then I had drunk fresh milk from a cow.”What was the first dish you cooked? “When I was six, I made my first lunch…
  8. The authors of The Food of the Philippines (2005) start the book with a great question: what is Filipino food?In an introductory essay, the late food writer and historian Doreen G. Fernandez attempts to answer that, starting with more questions. “Is it adobo – which has a Spanish name, yet contains chicken, pork, vegetables or even seafood stewed in vinegar and garlic, and is thus unlike any Spanish adobado? Or is it pancit – noodles of many persuasions utilising local ingredi­ents, yet…
  9. My brothers and I call these “Mom’s chicken wings” because we loved them when we were growing up. Because the wings are fried, my mother didn’t cook them often, so they were considered a treat. She served the wings on a bed of shredded iceberg lettuce, which then became flavoured with the soy-sauce coating, so we enjoyed eating that, too.Fried soy sauce chicken wingsAlthough it takes time to fry these wings, the dish couldn’t be easier. There’s no need to marinate the meat or season the coating…
  10. Choosing a wine to pair with spicy food can be challenging. In Asia, Sichuan cuisine, with its tongue-numbing, fiery bite, is probably the most challenging to pair with wine, as there are so many aromas, flavours and textures to contend with, ranging from fragrant seafood dishes to the spicy, rich mapo tofu. Many drinkers would pick a young fruity rosé, with minimal tannins, or a ripe Bordeaux from the Right Bank – usually merlot and, again, with soft tannins. A better pairing, however,…