Tim Anderson: 'I ate a lot of insects in Thailand. Some were quite good'
Sunday 24 June 2012
My store-cupboard essentials... Miso, soy sauce, fresh chillis and also some kind of chilli sauce. As far as more off-beat things, where do I start? My home kitchen is also my work kitchen, so my cupboards are filled with strange ingredients, from xanthan gum to neutral-flavoured popping candy.
My favourite cookbook... Heston Blumenthal's The Fat Duck Cookbook. I got it as a gift from my wife a couple of years ago. A lot of people might see it as a coffee-table book, but for me it's a useful reference; I won't do complete dishes from it, as they're too complicated for me, but it's been great for inspiration and learning specific techniques.
The kitchen appliance I can't live without... Probably my set of micro-scales. I got them during the filming of Masterchef, when I was about halfway through and realised that I needed to be more precise with my cooking. All the chemicals [I use] have to be measured out in very small, specific measurements otherwise your recipe is not going to work out.
My favourite food shop... New Loo Moon in Chinatown. It's a two-storey Asian emporium: its main thing is Chinese food, but it's got a good selection of Malaysian, Thai, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Burmese and Indian ingredients, as well as good frozen seafood and unusual fruit and veg such as mangosteens and water spinach.
My top table... Asakusa, which is a Japanese place by Mornington Crescent in north London. It's really good and really cheap and not like other Japanese restaurants in this country: where most places have a strong bent towards sushi and sashimi and make a lot of fuss over presentation, this has everything from chicken skin on a stick to monkfish liver and pork belly, and is much more relaxed. It's about the casual, almost "pub grub" side of Japanese cooking, which isn't as popular over here for some reason.
My dream dining companion... It's not who I really want as a dining companion, but the person I'd like to cook for most is Jonathan Ross, because he seems like a cool guy and he's a huge Japanophile and he also likes his food and loves The Fat Duck, so I think he might appreciate my kind of cooking.
My guilty pleasure... I don't really do guilt, though one dish that makes me feel a little bit guilty is Eggs Ian Fleming, which is Ian Fleming's recipe for scrambled eggs. It's about equal parts butter and eggs, and you cook it very slowly so you're almost making a curdled custard. It's really rich, but so good.
The strangest thing I've eaten... I ate quite a lot of insects in Thailand. Some of them were quite good, such as the giant water bug. It looked like a cross between a cockroach and a crab – the back end was sort of like an artichoke, but the head tasted almost like pork; it was bizarre. But others I could take or leave. Silkworms, in particular, were nasty.
My pet hates... People who say they don't like something when they've never tried it or maybe had a bad version of it once. You've got to keep trying these things: some of people's favourite tastes are ones they've acquired over time.
My tipple of choice...Beer, beer, beer. I'm a big beer geek, so I can't pick just one brand or style, but a really good brewery I've discovered recently is a Danish one called Mikkeller. They're very experimental: they did this Hoppy Stout, which was a dark beer with lots of hops, which they also aged in tequila barrels. It was this incredibly complex, refreshing but still rich beer, almost like a chocolatey margarita if you can imagine that. Off-the-wall but really good.
Tim Anderson is a chef and former 'Masterchef' champion. He has teamed up with Unearthed to create the first culinary tour around the world on a single plate. The dish will be served at the London Foodie Supper Club on 27 and 28 June. Tweet your interest to @foodsunearthed
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