Cooking in 2015

Eating is fun, but is cooking more fun? I’m lucky enough to enjoy both equally. So it’s not a question that enters my mind. For me the two go hand in hand. Here’s a rundown of my favourite cooking in 2015. My favourite dining experiences can be found on my companion blog.

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The Macaron Muse

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Finding your feet

Can you remember the first macaron you ever ate? I can’t. It was probably 10 years ago in a Pierre Hermé concession in one of Tokyo’s depachika. In all likelihood it would have been sublime but I honestly can’t remember because the best depachika are like Harrods’ and Selfridges’ food halls combined with Borough Market and a Taiwanese streetfood market. That macaron would have been followed by a Sadaharu Aoki matcha opera cake, baumkuchen, kouign amann, kabayaki unagi and take home sushi that spoils you for sushi for the rest of your life. I do remember eating my first macaron in Paris, that was in the Pierre Hermé shop on Rue Bonaparte and I’ve been trying to recreate that moment ever since.

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Backyard Brummies at Grillstock Bristol 2015 – KOTG Report and Rub Recipe

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Double tops!

My buddy Nick “Professor Brisket” Loman and I started the Backyard Brummies 4 years ago in an unusual fit of bravado. It went something like “Let’s do a BBQ competition, I mean how hard is it to cook competition BBQ?” It turns out it’s pretty straightforward to do, all you have to do is turn up with the right equipment and drink lots of beer. But to do it well takes some luck, determination and a plan. The plan this year was to keep doing what we do with ribs and brisket and try not to mess up too bad on chicken and pulled pork. Here’s how the plan went down. Continue reading

Canelé, recipe and notes

Objet d'art

Objet d’art

It’s all the rage, apparently. Though something as well known and classic as a canelé is, in my mind, immune to the trends and foibles of the mewling fooderati. Let’s get this straight, a canelé (can-eh-lay) is not just a chichi sponge cake baked into that characteristic fluted shape. If the dark caramelised shell doesn’t crackle like a chewy brûlée hiding a barely set lacey custard then it’s just not right! It’s these very properties that make canelés so special. Continue reading

Beef Cheek Pastrami Recipe Redux

A knife through hot pastrami

Humans like pastrami. Thick juicy slabs of it dripping from a toasted sandwich, melty cheese glueing the crimson meat to sharp sauerkraut and sweet russian dressing. Oh it seems I’ve just described my favourite sandwich, the Reuben! But the reality is in the UK the pastrami that we normally encounter is the equivalent to cheap wafer thin ham. Next time you eat any sandwich described as “New York” ask yourself how close are you actually getting to the soft, juicy, meaty, sweet, spicy pastrami or saltbeef of that city. Continue reading

Sweet Pickled Herring

Sweet herring and beetroot

Sweet pickled herring and beetroot

I love a shiny fish, my favourite is mackerel, cheap plentiful and delicious when in season. In the summer it’s sardine. Few foods are better than a grilled mackerel or sardine. They dont even have to be cooked, a light cure or pickling and it makes the best sushi. Hikari mono is the japanese catch-all term for shiny fish sushi. To my eyes the shimmering iridescence is so appetising, it’s always the sushi item I look forward to the most. Especially in Japan, kohada or gizzard shad is sublime. Continue reading

Kimdooya, a kind of nduja, an expression of pig fat and chilli

None more red

None more red

Nduja (en-doo-ya) is a lethally spicy but incredibly addictive spreadable salami from Calabria, Southern Italy. It gets it fearsome heat and blood red colour from the local Calabrian chillies, scorched by the sun to a vicious intensity. You don’t need a lot of n’duja melted on a pizza to make it special. Three or four blobs on a nice chewy base and you’re good. Or a small dollop melted in a pan throw in pasta and some seafood, forget about it! Continue reading

Sheng Jian Bao 生煎包

Dumplings like

 

I remember the first streetfood experience we had in Taiwan were these Sheng Jian Bao. They are incredible pan fried dumplings filled with juicy pork. It set the tone really for what was an incredible eating holiday. Sheng Jian Bao are a Shanghai speciality related closely to the more famous Xiao Long Bao soup dumplings. The filling is identical, the difference is that the wrapping is a yeasted dough and they’re pan fried with a crispy bottom. Much more robust than XLB. So if you’re rubbish with chopsticks you’re less likely to burst them and lose Chineser points. Continue reading

Beef Dan Dan Mian 牛肉擔擔麵

The nine step plan

Chinese fast food, a bowl of Dan Dan Mian, so simple yet utterly delicious. How fast and simple?

  1. Put sesame sauce, light & dark soy sauce, any chilli oil you like and ground Sichuan pepper into a bowl. All to taste and mix.
  2. Fry minced beef until brown with whole Sichuan pepper, dried chilli, light soy and Tianjian preserved veg (optional). Set aside.
  3. Cook noodles (or make them), add to the bowl, top with the cooked beef. Mix and devour.
  4. For a Nigel Slateresque twist replace beef mince with, er, any other mince you like.

Simples, faster than a takeaway but not as fast as this blog!

Happy new year! 恭禧發財