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.
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.
Ken Hom, the king of Chinese cooking
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.
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.