The King of the Ocean tells you how to cook seafood and Sri Lankan.
You’ve worked with a lot of different types of cuisines – seafood, French, Sri Lankan and modern Australian. What’s your favourite and why?
“I’d have to say that my favourite would be seafood, mainly because it’s something that you can cook and turn into any cuisine be it Sri Lankan, French, Modern Australian etc.”
What’s a simple seafood recipe that every home chef should master?
“I would like to think it is better to master the art of cooking a piece of fish perfectly rather than a recipe, because then you are capable of cooking many dishes.”
Your cookbook, Serendip: My Sri Lankan Kitchen, features some amazing Sri Lankan recipes. What are the key ingredients people should always have in their pantry to cook this cuisine?
“There are about ten or so vital ingredients everyone should have in their pantry should they want to cook Sri Lankan cuisine. These are: curry leaves, turmeric, coriander powder, cumin powder, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, chilli powder and flakes, mustard seeds, roasted curry powder and pandanus.”
Do you prefer Michelin-starred restaurants or holes-in-the wall?
“I don’t have a preference as it really depends on my mood and the size of my wallet.”
What’s your favourite restaurant and why?
“I recently went to the Flower Drum in Melbourne; I was very impressed with the food, the flavours, presentation but most of all the excellent service.”
What’s your guilty food pleasure?
“I don’t feel guilty about any foods I eat it, as I eat it all with pleasure but I also work to try to eat it all in moderation and not over indulge. All food is divine and you need to experience it all to develop your palate and an appreciation.”
Tell us about a dish you tasted while travelling that has stayed with you.
“I’d have to say Cau lau which is a regional dish made with noodles, pork and greens and is only found in the town of Hội An, in the Quang Nam Province, Vietnam. Its unique taste is rumoured to be contributed by the water from an undisclosed ancient Cham well just outside of the town.”
What’s a food trend or movement that you’re currently interested in?
“One food trend that I’m very interested in at the moment is be tea gastronomy, mainly because the synergy and cultivation methods of tea are very close to that of wine making, and make it the perfect match for food.”
You’ve made a film about the culinary art of tea called ‘The Chef and the Tea Maker’. Can the home cook integrate tea into food cooking?
“Yes all it takes is imagination; my tip is that instead of adding tea as an extra ingredient you should replace one of the existing ingredients with tea. There are so many teas available that you can create everything from a cocktail to a dessert - the possibilities are endless!”
You can catch Sydney’s most famous food and beverage establishments at Hyde Park North on October 30th, 2010 from 12-5pm; donating their time, effort, skills and products to help create the Sydney Food & Wine Fair – this year celebrating 20 years of giving.