Food & Drink

Recipes, cookbook reviews, interviews with chefs, culinary insights and wine columns
South China Morning Post
  1. How did you get into cooking? “When I was young I helped my mother cook because she was busy looking after other people’s kids and I have nine siblings. I began cooking when I was around nine years old, starting with fried rice and noodles.“My mother used to be a dim sum chef so she taught me how to make dumplings, like steamed shrimp dumplings, and if they looked nice she praised me for it. She also taught me general knowledge about food and drinks. She cooked delicious food so that’s how I…
  2. For more than 20 years, Australian chef Greg Doyle’s name was synonymous with Pier restaurant in the Rose Bay area of Sydney. The chef closed Pier in 2012, opened another restaurant in its place (which has since closed) and retired from the daily running an F&B establishment. But the dishes created by Doyle and his team, which included chef Grant King and pastry chef Katrina Kanetani, live on in their book, Pier (2007). Doyle cites two experiences that helped Pier evolve over its 20-plus-year…
  3. Tamagoyaki translates as “grilled egg”, although most of the time it’s prepared in a special rectangular pan, instead of on a griddle. The omelette has different shapes, flavours and textures, depending on where you’re eating it. In inexpensive sushi restaurants, it’s usually served as a topping for vinegared rice and is often far too sweet (for my tastes, anyway). At expensive sushiyas, it usually looks like a thick slab of pale yellow cake, and is complexly and subtly flavoured with…
  4. Moving experience: I was born in 1981, in Taiwan. My dad is British and my mum is Taiwanese. They split up when I was five and my dad moved to Hong Kong. My stepdad worked for an airline and moved around every three years. From Taiwan, we moved to Los Angeles, back to Taiwan, then to Hong Kong. And from there it was constant moving: by the time I was in my mid-20s, I’d moved 18 times and lived in Asia, Canada, the United States, India, Italy and the UK. I’ve lived in Hong Kong three times and…
  5. How did you get into cooking? “My father was a chef working in restaurants. I was not studious so I followed him into this field when I was 15 years old because there were fewer opportunities for people who weren’t academically minded. “I started off doing odds and ends like cleaning up and chopping vegetables. It took me about three to five years to begin to like cooking. At first I wasn’t interested, but after I started cooking and people praised me for it I became more focused.“My father…
  6. This Korean dish of oyster, seaweed and rice soup is something I make when I’m dining alone, because I’m the only one in my household that likes oysters. It’s delicious, and takes only about 20 minutes to prepare, including thawing the oysters (I use frozen ones). It’s easy enough to increase the quantities to feed more; the cooking time is the same and you’ll just need a larger pot. If you have a good source of fresh oysters, preferably small ones such as kumamotos, then by all means use them,…
  7. Israeli-English chef Yotam Ottolenghi is known as much for his many cookbooks (eight so far) as he is for the London restaurants that bear his name, and which he opened with his business partner, Sami Tamimi. While the food served at Ottolenghi’s restaurants is not vegetarian, the chef, who eats meat and shellfish, was asked to write a vegetarian column for The Guardian newspaper in 2006. “I was slightly hesitant,” Ottolenghi writes in the introduction to Plenty (2010). “After all, I wasn’t a…
  8. Grace Young’s first lessons in traditional Chinese cuisine did not come in a formal classroom setting. Instead, the cookbook author, food writer and cooking instructor learned about Chinese food through everyday life with her parents in the United States.In the introduction to her book, The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen (1999), Young writes, “In Chinese cooking, every ingredient and dish is imbued with its own brilliance and lore. When I was a young girl growing up in a traditional Chinese home…
  9. Was poon choi always a part of your village life? “Growing up, poon choi was part of my heritage. In the early 1970s, Hong Kong was not so prosperous. I remember rain dripped in and flooded the old houses. Back then, poon choi was common. My village wasn’t that big, just 100 to 150 people, but it’s been there for over 100 years.”How did they prepare it? “You couldn’t just order out for food then. You called everyone in the village who knew how to cook to help out. They would build a firepit…
  10. Lunar New Year has many traditions and nowhere are these more apparent than in the food served during the holiday. Certain ingredients are eaten because they bring wealth, luck and happiness, and others avoided because they are considered inauspicious. One of the more popular dishes for a Lunar New Year feast is san choi bao, or lettuce cups. Lettuce is thought to bring wealth and the fresh, crisp leaves are filled with a savoury mixture that often includes dried oysters (symbolising prosperity…