Tales From My Kitchen Table

Angela Hui

Award-winning food and drinks writer and author of TAKEAWAY: Stories from a childhood behind the counter, Angela Hui possesses perhaps more vivid and defining memories attached to food than most. From family dinners before service as a child, to the personal fulfilment she now feels cooking for loved ones in adulthood, Angela’s life and career are peppered with endless memorable moments surrounding both the necessity and beauty of preparing and enjoying food. 

Photo by Justin Lim

Tell us about your favourite food memory from your childhood…

I cherish all the family meals my parents cooked for us before service in our family Chinese takeaway. We’d sit on the floor around a newspaper covered wooden coffee table in our tiny living room clamoring over each other to reach for dishes like garlic razor clams with vermicelli, black bean aubergine and green pepper and steamed sea bass with ginger and spring onions.

What would your advice be to someone who is new to cooking and is looking to put more love into the ritual of preparing food at home? 

Start small and slowly build confidence – even the greatest cooks have to start somewhere! It’s totally okay to take a few shortcuts like using pre-chopped ingredients or shop-bought jar of sauces. It’s about building those skills, learning, improving and making mistakes. Most importantly, have fun! Cooking shouldn’t be taken too seriously and be a chore.

Tell us about one of your cooking rituals at home... 

I always cook with music on, scruffy hair whacked up in a bun with a scrunchie and rolling my sleeves up to get stuck in. 

What’s your favourite thing about having friends and family round for dinner?

I know it’s very cliché, but I love sharing a moment together and making memories over great chat and food. For me, it’s about the act of feeding and providing sustenance for someone else and seeing their happy faces and reactions fills me with joy.

Tell us about one of the most memorable meals someone important in your life has cooked for you...

I used to love watching my mum make cheung fun (steamed rice noodle rolls) in a big industrial steamer. It’s such a fun, theatrical process from mixing the batter to using a dough scraper to carefully rolling the noodle and getting first dibs to pick and mix ingredients for the filling.

Taste that most makes you think of home: 

In all honesty, a simple bowl of boiled Jasmine rice. It’s one thing that features in almost all meals and the perfect accompanying sponge to pair with other dishes. I don’t think I can live without rice.

Favourite song to cook to: 

Currently obsessed with the new Arctic Monkeys album. I Ain’t Quite Where I Think I Am is my jam.

When you need a pick-me-up, what do you cook for comfort: 

When I need a pick-me-up I’ll probably be too sad or low on energy to make an elaborate meal so I’ll probably opt for instant ramen (Nissin Demae chicken or Nongshim Shin Ramyun Black are my favs). I usually have extra add-ons like crab sticks, spam, pak choi, fried egg, tofu puffs and chilli oil, or make a very lazy and low effort congee. Rinse the rice grains, measure and press the button, let the rice cooker do its thing and serve with soy sauce and white pepper. 

You have friends coming round for an impromptu dinner, what do you cook? 

Boiled rice, Chinese tomato egg stir fry, stir fried morning glory with furu and whole steamed sea bass with ginger and spring onion. 

Your most proud career moment to date: 

Probably writing my book TAKEAWAY. I know, I know, I keep banging on about it at any given opportunity and will probably keep wanging on about it for years to come, but it's truly a dream come true and I put my heart and soul into my book baby. 

Best place for a cosy dinner in your local area: 

Singburi til I die.

Favourite winter dish: 

Winter is soup szn. I really love drinking Chinese watercress soup with pork rib. It's such a light and peppery nutritious homely soup that warms your cockles. 

The ingredient you’re most looking forward to incorporating into your dishes this season:

My mum came to visit recently and gave me a tub of her homemade XO sauce and a huge plastic sandwich bag of dried golden thread mushrooms. I’m excited to make braised beancurd skin with mushrooms.

Follow Angela: @angelahuii

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