What's your earliest food memory? Probably at around five years old when my mum made Chinese sausage steamed with rice. It smelled so comforting and appetising and I still think of that smell today.
What foods did you like as a child, and what did you dislike? I loved everything as a child because we are very poor and my mum said: “there is no choice!”
Who is your greatest foodie inspiration? My uncle Paul Lee. I went to work for him at his restaurant when I was 11.
What was the first thing you ever cooked? Egg fried rice, and it tasted pretty good if I say so myself.
What's your food guilty pleasure? Crisps of all kinds. I do like a good packet of crisps.
What would be your perfect family meal? Steamed fish with ginger, stir-fried greens with garlic and simple steamed rice. This is the perfect meal to share with all the family, young and old.
How do you like to celebrate Chinese New Year? Usually dining with family, we indulged and ate expensive dishes such as duck, lobster, and always fish and noodles.
Ken Hom's Cashew Chicken
This dish exemplifies the Chinese penchant for contrasting textures.Here, tender succulent pieces of chicken are used with sweet crunchy cashew nuts.The secret to this popular dish is the use of those wonderful Chinese cooking principles: ‘velveting’ to seal in the juices of the chicken, and then stir-frying as a second step to give the dish that special taste.
450g (1lb)boneless chicken breasts, skinned
280ml (10fl oz) groundnut or peanut oil or water
2 teaspoonsgroundnut or peanut oil
50g (2oz)cashew nuts
1 tablespoonShaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
1 tablespoonlight soy sauce
1 tablespoonspring onions, finely chopped, to garnish.
1. Cut the chicken breasts into 1cm (½ inch) cubes.Combine them with the egg white, salt and cornflour in a small bowl, and put it in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.
2. Heat a wok until it is very hot and then add the oil.When the oil is very hot, remove the wok from the heat, and immediately add the chicken pieces, stirring vigorously to keep them from sticking.When the chicken pieces turn white, about 2 minutes, quickly drain the chicken and all of the oil in a stainless steel colander set in a bowl.Discard the oil.
NOTE: If you prefer to use water instead of oil, bring it to a boil in a saucepan. Remove the saucepan from the heat and immediately add the chicken pieces, stirring vigorously to keep them from sticking. When the chicken pieces turn white, about 4 minutes, quickly drain the chicken and all of the water in a stainless steel colander set in a bowl.Discard the water.
3. If you have used the wok, wipe it clean. Re-heat or heat the wok until it is very hot, add the 2 teaspoons of oil. Then add the cashew nuts and stir-fry them for 1 minute.
4. Then add the rest of the ingredients. Return the chicken to the wok or pan and stir-fry the mixture for another 2 minutes. Garnish the dish with the spring onions and serve at once.
Comforting Rice with Chinese Sausage
My working mother was a whirlwind of efficiency and skill in her kitchen. She would arrive home around 5:45 and by 7pm that evening we would be enjoying a mini feast of at least four dishes. My mother was extremely organized and she moved artfully, combining and cooking various foods with each other. This is one of those dishes. When the rice began to cook, she would lay two or three Chinese sausages on the surface of the rice. The rich sweet flavor and aroma of the sausages would slowly come together with the rice, dripping their ‘savoriness’ into the rice to make it a special dish. It was simple to make and, to this day, when I am looking for quick and very satisfying meal, I always make this dish.
Chinese sausages are sweet and savoury and are made of pork and pork fat marinated in spices.The sausages are then hung on strings and dried. They can be found at Chinese grocers and supermarkets.
2 cups long grain white rice
6 Chinese pork sausages
2 or 3 eggs
1½ tablespoons of groundnut oil
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
Put the rice in a heavy bottom medium-sized pot.Pour in enough water to cover the rice about 1 inch. Bring the rice to a boil and continue to cook until most of the water has evaporated. Reduce the heat to the lowest point possible, cover tightly and cook for 2 minutes.
Cut the sausages diagonally into 2 inch slices. Put the sausages on top of the steaming rice, cover again tightly and continue to cook for 15 minutes. The rice and sausage will cook slowly in the remaining steam. Turn off the heat and let it rest still covered for another 15 minutes before serving.
Heat a frying pan until it is hot, add the oil and break the eggs into the pan, salt and pepper them and fried until crispy. Remove and set over kitchen paper. Place an egg over each bowl filled with rice and sausage and drizzle with oyster sauce and serve at once.
Ken Hom's meal range is exclusive to Tesco, for further recipes and information on hosting the perfect Chinese New Year celebration, visit www.kenhom.co.uk