Having just celebrated Chinese New Year, we ave been lucky enough to get a little time with the culinary master that is Ken Hom, who not only has told us about his love of cooking, but shared a couple of recipes with us too!
Happy New Year Ken! Thank you for taking the time to talk to me today. It is the year of the Sheep this year I believe, under what animal were you born and do you think it is an influence on your genius in the kitchen?
The Ox…..they are supposed to be creative but it is not for me to say.
What do you think is so special about Chinese cuisine that captivates people so?
The layers of flavours and taste that come with Chinese cooking techniques as well as the great variety of foods that can please everyone.
You have inspired us for years with your culinary skills, do you have a favourite recipe from your time cooking? If so which one and why?
Peking duck because of the crispy skin, rich meat ——an unbeatable combination.
I have a few ingredient questions for you, which ingredient is….and why?
- The most versatile? Garlic, it can be used in every recipe weather stir-fried, fried or steamed
- The most exotic you have used? Shrimp roe for its rich flavour
- The most flavoursome? Shrimp paste for its special unami taste
- The most interesting? Chilli for its incredible variety
You have kindly shared a couple of recipes with us today, thank you. What inspires you when you are creating new dishes?
When I eat other people’s cooking and food, which is why I love eating in restaurants and in people’s homes.
Do you have any tips on creating Gluten Free alternatives to dishes such as Sweet & Sour Chicken (battered) and Crispy Chilli Beef?
Simply use a combination of rice and corn flour.
If you could advise our readers to invest in one tool for the kitchen with Chinese cuisine in mind, what would it be and why?
A wok…that would be the only utensil you will need. You can cook a small or large amount, terrific for stir-frying, steaming, frying, pan-frying.
You have a new range of Ready Meals available from Tesco, what made you decide to create the range?
I wanted to be with cooks in their kitchen when they are stir-frying. With today’s busy lifestyle, most people can make only one or two dishes. My ready meals can be a supplement and help. For example, my crispy duck (one of the most popular) which most people don’t have time to make at home but would welcome it for a family meal in additional to their stir-fried dishes.
What were your most important considerations when creating the meals?
Flavour and quality. I am intimately involved in the creation, testing and approval of each meal and monitor their on-going quality.
You have travelled the world, so which dishes from around the globe do you love to eat and would you ever consider creating a fusion dish?
I wrote the first cookery book on “fusion” cookery in 1986 in which I have over 100 recipes combining French and Italian recipes & flavours with that of Chinese & Thai. It was called East Meets West.
- 450g (1lb) lean beef steak
- 1 tbsp dried orange peel, soaked and coarsely chopped*
- 2 tsp whole Sichuan peppercorns, roasted and finely ground (optional)
- 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1½ tsp sugar
- 2 tsp sesame oil for the marinade
- 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
- 1½ tbsp finely chopped fresh root ginger
- 2 tsp cornflour
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 65ml (2½fl oz) groundnut oil
- 2 dried red chilli peppers, cut in half lengthways
- Cut the beef into thin slices 5cm (2in) long, cutting against the grain. Put the beef into a bowl, add all the marinade ingredients and mix well. Leave to marinate for about 20 minutes.
- Heat a wok or large frying pan over a high heat. Add the groundnut oil and, when it is very hot and slightly smoking, remove the beef from the marinade with a slotted spoon. Add the beef to the pan and stir-fry for 3–5 minutes or until browned. Remove and leave to drain in a colander
- set inside a bowl.
- Pour off most of the oil from the wok or pan, leaving about 2 teaspoons. Reheat over a high heat, add the dried chilli peppers and stir-fry for 10 seconds.
- Return the beef to the pan and add the rest of the ingredients and stir-fry for 4 minutes, mixing well. Serve at once.
- *To make dried orange peel, peel the skin off an orange, scraping away as much of the white pith as possible or coarsely grate the peel. Lay on kitchen paper and dry in the sun, an airing cupboard or in a warm but turned off oven, until dry and very hard. Store in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dry place. To use, soak the required amount in warm water until it softens, then chop or slice according to the recipe. Add grated peel to dishes without soaking first.
- 450 g (1 lb) firm white fish fillets, such as cod or sole or salmon fillets, or a whole fish such as sole or turbot
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt or plain salt
- 1½ tablespoons fresh ginger, finely shredded
- 3 tablespoons spring onions, finely shredded
- 2 tablespoons Kikkomann soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon groundnut oil
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- Fresh coriander sprigs
- If you are using a whole fish, remove the gills. Pat the fish or fish fillets dry with kitchen paper. Rub with the salt on both sides, and then set aside for 30 minutes. This helps the flesh to firm up and draws out any excess moisture.
- Next set up a steamer or put a rack into a wok or deep pan and fill it with 5 cm (2 inches) of water. Bring the water to the boil over a high heat. Put the fish on a heat proof plate and scatter the ginger evenly over the top. Put the plate of fish into the steamer or onto the rack.
- Cover the pan tightly and gently steam the fish until it is just cooked. Flat fish will take about 5 minutes to cook. Thicker fish or fillets such as sea bass will take 12-14 minutes.
- Remove the plate of cooked fish and sprinkle on the spring onions and light and dark soy sauces.
- Heat the two oils together in a small saucepan. When they are hot and smoking pour the hot oil on top of the fish, garnish with the coriander sprigs.
- Serve at once.
Ken Hom’s range of chilled ready meals are available from Tesco. To download Ken Hom’s Chinese New Year 2015 booklet, please visit: www.kenhom.co.uk