Gok Wan's new flavour fix
Gok Wan is well known for his fashion know-how thanks to his popular TV shows that help women improve their style.
But the fashion fixer turns his attention to food in his new book ‘Gok Cooks Chinese’.
It’s not as big a leap as you might think - the 37-year-old is the son of a restaurateur and chef and has no issues serving up tasty food in scallop shells, cabbage leaves and the like.
As an Englishman of Chinese heritage, he’s been working with food one way or another all his life. He says: “I used to work for my dad in the kitchen. It’s one thing serving food for friends, another serving it to people who are paying for it because you have a huge amount of responsibility that comes with it.
“I think that’s where my confidence comes from.”
The book, and accompanying series on UK TV, debunks myths the uninformed might have about Chinese cuisine.
He says: “The biggest myth is that it’s really unhealthy and complicated and you have to use very exotic ingredients you can only get from Asia. All of that is wrong. Traditional Chinese food is super-healthy and it isn’t that complex.
“Once you’ve got the principles right and the preparation done, the actual cooking is the easiest part. It’s a slightly different discipline from cooking Western food. Most of the ingredients, bar a handful, in the entire book, you can get from a supermarket.”
While growing up surrounded by food, Wan battled against obesity and anorexia, a struggle that he has openly discussed. He reveals: “I never really considered that when I made the series, anyone would make a direct comparison between anorexia or obesity and cooking, because eating disorders are very rarely about the food.
“You don’t hate food to not eat it and you don’t often eat too much food because you’re addicted to it. It’s far more psychological.
“I never missed food when I stopped eating it. I just left it for a little while.”
Try Gok’s Vietnamese-style Leftover-Chicken Salad
Ingredients (Serves 4)
For the salad:
350g cooked chicken, torn into strips
250g vermicelli noodles, soaked and drained
1 medium cucumber, roughly peeled, sliced lengthways, and finely sliced
2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
1 fennel bulb, finely sliced
2 spring onions, cut into matchsticks
Small bunch of fresh mint leaves
salt, white pepper
For the dressing:
4 tbsp squeezed lime juice
1-2 tsp fish sauce, to taste
Pinch of caster sugar
½ fresh long red chilli, finely chopped
½ tsp sesame oil
Make dressing by mixing ingredients together. Adjust as necessary for a harmonious balance of flavours.
Put salad ingredients into a bowl and mix together, toss noodles around to separate strands and combine with other ingredients. Pour over a little dressing and toss. Season if necessary. Put salad in serving dish and pour over remaining dressing, mixing well to coat the noodles.