Don’t be alarmed now, I’m a knifenut but not one of those that you’d cross the street to avoid. I mean I’m a kitchen knifenut, particularly Japanese kitchen knives. If you see me with one of these then you can rest assured I’m planning nothing more violent than a nice meal.  Continue reading


Mr Txuleta’s Txuleta

Do not adjust your set, deep crimson txuletas. Galician left, Basque Cider House right

There are food moments I’ll never forget. Eating at Asador Etxebarri in the rolling Basque hills between Bilbao and San Sebastian is one of them. Victor Arguinzoniz is a grilling genius, the menu is a masterpiece. Every ingredient the best the region has to offer, cooked simply over fire using pioneering instruments and techniques. The main part of the meal ended with a Galician beef chop, a txuleta (or chuleta in Spanish), perfectly charred on the outside and crimson rare inside.
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Duck Egg Noodles and Chilli Duck Ramen

Duck egg noodles

Homemade duck egg noodles

Ramen, at the moment it’s everybody’s favourite noodle. And why not? Cheap and delicious. An everyday Japanese dish with so much variation and endless refinement there’s something for every taste. For me, a bowl of Hakata style tonkotsu is my favourite ramen. Rich pork stock, marinated egg, sweetly soft slithers of chashu and of course those firm ramen noodles. You can get good tonkotsu in London now so I don’t have to go back to Kyushu for them. Though sadly Birmingham is still sorely lacking any, let alone good, ramen joints.
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Tea-smoked Duck Breasts

A lorra duck

Tea smoked duck is a cold dish. A cheeky appetiser to go alongside other nibbley things at the start of a meal, maybe smacked cucumbers and marinated peanuts. Or to be stuffed inside fluffy gua bao. Here’s my recipe for them. I’ve gone proper Chinese and not given exact quantities, relax, it all depends on the size of duck breasts anyway. Continue reading

Risotto nero con le seppie and Cutthroats


Black cuttlefish risotto, should try it on a black plate next time

Before I even tried this dish I loved the idea of it. Look at it, it’s black, really black! The only thing blacker is the horrible one in a packet of liquorice allsorts. It’s a Venetian classic that’s also very popular across the Adriatic in Croatia. It should be more popular here too, cuttlefish is a delicious cross between squid and octopus. Sweet, tender and meaty. Unlike squid and octopus it’s also cheap. Any cheaper and fish markets would be giving it away. So why aren’t we eating it? I suppose it’s because it looks so unpromising in it’s raw ink soaked freakishness.
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Fish Sauce Chicken Wings


My crispy fish sauce chicken wings

A spate of, ok two, new Thai restaurant openings in London has the capital’s food elite frothing with excitement. The chefs behind Som Saa in Hackney and Smoking Goat in Soho come from the same Northern Thai stable The Begging Bowl in Peckham. I had no expectations from either as I’ve never been to Peckham or Thailand for that matter. But I do love cooking Thai food and I’m sure Peckham is lovely this time of year. Som Saa is by all accounts authentic Northern Thai whereas Smoking Goat is better described as Thai influenced smoky bbq. You’d think that being a foodist I would prefer Som Saa but it was the smack-in-the-face sweet and sticky deliciousness of Smoking Goat that won me over. The standout dish of the dozen or so that we tried in the two restaurants was the Smoking Goat’s Fish Sauce Chicken Wings, and it’s not even Thai!
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The Smoke & Umami Recipes

It’s not my first time food blogging, my buddy Nick at let me loose on his blog a couple of years ago. We started the mighty Birmingham and West Midlands Food Map that highlighted places to eat and shop for food in our conurbation. Although obsolescent since Feb 2014 it’s still quite relevant which may be an indictment of our dining scene. Nevermind, I’ve always thought home cooking was more fun anyway! Here are the recipes and other home-cooking blogs that I’ve posted on smokeandumami:
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