We recently had the pleasure of welcoming world famous chef and TV personality, Ken Hom, to our Harrogate store, where he very kindly demonstrated a few of his favourite cooking techniques to an enthralled crowd. We couldn’t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to ask this icon of Far Eastern cooking, just what items he couldn’t live without in his kitchen.
It’s impossible to think of Far Eastern or Chinese cookery without thinking of either a Wok or Ken Hom, the three are forever ingrained and intertwined in the British psyche, thanks to Ken’s infectious enthusiasm and being one of the very first TV chef’s to introduce us to Wok cookery – over 30 years ago! Now inspiring new generations, as well as old, to spread their culinary wings and explore all that the world of Chinese cuisine has to offer, we wondered what still inspired Ken.
Remembering how wok cooking influenced his early life, Ken says: ‘After losing my father when I was just eight months old, I was brought up by my mother in the China Town district of Chicago and went to work in my Uncle Paul’s restaurant at the age of 11. We were poor then but my mum would still create a three-course meal every day in her tiny kitchen, just using her wok and cleaver. I remember her quick, delicious meals made out of a little rice, a little dried fish, some spice. Once when she could not work for a month, she still produced flavoursome meals out of these few ingredients, and her wok. We loved the simple, wok prepared food. To enjoy life and be happy means to eat well. That I believe, wholeheartedly, and wok cooking allows me to do just that’.
So what are the 5 things that Ken cannot live without in his kitchen?
1. Of course, all the Ken Hom products, including my woks! They are the best!
2. Kikkoman Soy Sauce: naturally fermented and delicious
3. Lee Kum Kee: for their wide range of Chinese sauces
4. My cleaver: it chops everything, the only knife I ever need
5. A gas hob: it gets the wok really hot which is ideal for cooking. You can stir fry on other types of hobs of course, but gas really gives the best, most authentic results.
Did you know?...
The wok was commercially introduced to the UK with its traditional rounded base, but it soon became apparent that its traditional round shape did not fit the gas cookers used at that time, as the burners could not properly cradle this new type of pan. It was Ken Hom who helped develop the flat-bottomed wok in 1986, so that it would better adapt to the UK hobs. By 2005 an incredible one in seven people in Britain owned a Ken Hom wok. Today, the flat bottomed wok is also suitable for electric and ceramic stove tops and some are suitable even for induction hob.