Ellie, the talented home cook and blogger behind Almost Bourdain, shares her incredible homemade recipes and food photography and, in doing, so inspires readers to recreate (and drool over) the fabulous dishes she makes.
We ask Ellie what her Chinese New Year menu will look like, what her family’s taught her about food, and what most inspires her in the kitchen.
What do you find most rewarding about cooking?
Food brings people together. Good food puts a smile on people’s faces.
Growing up, did you have a mentor who taught you the basics of Chinese cuisine?
My mother and her four sisters were my mentors. Weekends were busy with gatherings at my grandmother’s house, with constant cooking going on in her kitchen. I was always pottering around and helping with small tasks.
With Chinese New Year approaching, can you share a typical menu for a family celebrating this occasion? (i.e. an entree, main course and dessert)?
We always start with tossing yee sang salad, a raw fish salad ceremony symbolising a prosperous New Year, followed by a few mains: a roast suckling pig; a steamed whole fish; braised mushrooms with abalone; fat choy (black moss/hair moss); and Asian greens. Desserts are often light, such as almond jelly with longan and lychee.
What's your ultimate food indulgence?
Waking up to a big bowl of lobster congee for breakfast.
What have you learnt about food from your family?
Live to eat, don’t eat to live.
What do you think makes Chinese cuisine so unique?
Anthony Bourdain says, 'If you were to cook a Chinese dish a day, you couldn't finish in 1,000 years". The history and the diversity of Chinese cuisine are what make it so unique.
Where do you go to seek culinary inspiration?
All my senses. Everything I see, smell, touch and hear can be my inspiration.
What Chinese dishes would you prepare...
- When hosting a dinner party for close friends? Malaysian beef rendang.
- If asked to bring dessert? Rockmelon sago pudding.
- For a quick-and-easy weeknight dinner? Fried rice.
Your blog is called Almost Bourdain. Are you a big fan of the TV host/chef?
Yes, I admire his attitude towards the diversity of food and culture, as well as his charisma.
As his TV show, No Reservations, seeks to explore the international food landscape, would you say you're attempting the same? (i.e. exploring various cuisines and documenting them on your blog?).
For sure. I am already doing this. On my blog, you can find recipes varying from Malaysian street food, Chinese roast duck and Moroccan tangine to Turkish sweets, Dutch croquettes and French desserts.
Now that you're a prominent food blogger, is it easier to lock down reservations at your favourite restaurants?
No. Firstly, I like to visit a restaurant incognito. Secondly, I do not review restaurants on my blog.
Do you have anything else you'd like to share with your fellow foodies?
Food rocks! Follow me on Twitter.