We are very excited to announce that Tim Anderson, winner of the 2011 series of MasterChef, is now a Penguin Random House author. His debut cookery book, Nanban, is an exploration of Japanese soul food, featuring authentic but accessible recipes from the south of the island.
As lovers of gyoza and ramen (and big fans of Tim's triumph on MasterChef), we wanted to find out more about Nanban, so we leapt at the chance to spend five minutes with him talking all things foodie.
Can you tell us a bit more about the Nanban cookbook?
Nanban is a new kind of Japanese cookbook, one that focuses on punchy dishes from a specific region – the deep south. Expect exciting recipes for ramen, fried chicken, tofu, soft serve ice cream, and plenty of cocktails.
If you had to pick one recipe to show off what Nanban is all about, which one would it be and why?
It would have to be the yaki-curry. It’s a crowdpleaser and it’s not what most people would consider ‘typical’ Japanese food.
What advice would you give to someone looking to cook Japanese food for the first time?
Learn to cook Japanese rice well. Most Japanese dishes are meant to be eaten alongside rice to complete the meal.
What are the key do’s and don’ts when it comes to Japanese cooking?
Do buy a package of dashi powder – dashi is essential and there is no decent substitute for it. But don’t feel like you have to follow the recipes to the letter. A lot of Japanese cooking is not as strict as you might think. Have fun with it and adjust it to suit your own palate.
Here at The Happy Foodie, we're somewhat obsessed with cookbooks. Can you tell us a bit about your favourite?
The Fat Duck cookbook is an in-depth technical resource, a fascinating memoir, and a work of art all rolled into one. The recipes are nearly impossible to cook start-to-finish, but I've still learned an awful lot from them.
Do you watch food shows on TV? Is there one you really love?
Am I allowed to say MasterChef? In all honesty, it's still one of my favorites. Having been through it, I appreciate how honest it is, and how positive. Plus, it can still be pretty suspenseful for me!
Is there an ingredient you are really enjoying cooking with at the moment?
Old Bay. It's an American seasoning made from a blend of herbs and spices, and I find myself reaching for it probably more than I should. It's great on pretty much everything, but chicken and corn in particular.
What excites you about the British food world at the moment?
I love that we are starting to see real diversity and creativity in casual, inexpensive settings as well as increasing availability of great produce. We are living in an era where yuzu juice is sold at big supermarkets, TV chefs are obsessed with Yorkshire rhubarb, and Korean fried chicken is trendy. It's a good time for food in the UK.
Find out more about Nanban by Tim Anderson here.
Image credit: Paul Winch-Furness