Here’s a rather easy way to dramatically improve your Asian cooking skills…
1. Buy an Asian cookbook.
I picked up a copy of ‘Bill’s Everyday Asian’ by Bill Granger with Christmas money from my mum (thanks mum). It’s beautifully photographed and the recipes aren’t fiddly or full of hard-to-find ingredients. And he’s an Aussie, so I don’t have to convert all the measurements into something I understand!
2. Commit to cooking one or two recipes from the cookbook each week.
I’ve been working my way through starters – fish cakes and rice paper rolls, soups – pho and chicken curry soup, and salads – Vietnamese chicken salad with carrot and mint and a yummy Asian slaw. I’ve done the salt and pepper fish a few times, four different chicken dishes, meatballs with tamarind and a couple of versions of fried rice. Will did barbecued pork fillets with Vietnamese caramel sauce last week and they were incredible. Next on my list is the bibimbap, and then I’m keen to test out some of the Japanese recipes.
3. Practice your skills by cooking through the entire cookbook.
I think the secret to doing anything better is practice. By cooking something new a couple of times a week, I find myself picking up the little tips and common flavour combinations – like sweet, sour, salty and bitter in Thai cooking. Salad dressings and marinades are becoming more intuitive. And now I know the staple ingredients, our fridge and pantry are well stocked for those last minute dinners that neither of us have thought about.
Once I’ve got my Asian skills down pat, I’d love to find a French recipe book. Any recommendations?