In Hairy Bikers' Asian Adventure, your journey begins in Hong Kong. How does the Chinese relationship to food differ from the Brits’?
“It’s interesting, in some ways there are real similarities, such as the focus on getting together to enjoy food. We were fascinated by the street food in Hong Kong. Everywhere you looked, there was interesting and affordable food, which formed a real food culture. It’s accessible to everyone, everyone sits together, regardless of status. In terms of the social side of things, it was really great to see – as you don’t tend to get that as much in the UK.”
What surprised you about the Vietnamese food offering?
“I was surprised by how strong the French influence was, to be honest. I knew it was a French colony historically, but I was amazed at the French food techniques used. We had one of the finest meals I’ve ever had in a Hanoi restaurant, created by a chef called Didier Corlou. There’s a real eclectic mix of traditional Vietnamese foods versus traditional French cuisines, and it made for a wonderful combination.” Si
If you manned your own hawker stall, which dish would you sell?
“I would sell dumplings from all over Asia – Tibetan momos, Chinese dumplings, Japanese gyozas... the lot. All would come with the proper dipping sauces, of course! You get great dumplings in Taiwan also.” Dave
“Octopus balls, no doubt about it – I’d eat more than I sold, which is always a good sign!” Si
Which of you has more of an iron stomach?
“We are both pretty good, and we have never been sick in Asia... it's a fresh food culture. We both got really sick in Turkey once, and I wasn’t great in Mexico... you try cooking mole sauce, with the trots!” Dave
“I’d agree, generally speaking, we both have iron stomachs. When you’ve travelled as much as we have, it’s part of the gig.” Si
What did your parents teach you about food?
“That there was nothing better than feeding the people that you loved, and making food with love. It definitely tastes better!” Si
“My parents taught me how to love and appreciate food, we both come from pretty working-class backgrounds, you learn not to waste a thing.” Dave
You guys are more conscious eaters than ever. Seeing as it’s a free-for-all while filming the show, do you take it easy on the calories post-shooting?
“Oh my God, yes. We jump on the scales in a shock and horror fashion, and then get back on it to keep our rotund selves slightly less rotund!” Si
“Yes, definitely... we come home, hit the scales as Si says, weep, but these days we actually do something about it! We use our own diet recipes, eat well and shift the timber in next to no time.” Dave
After eating fresh handmade noodles in Hong Kong, sushi for breakfast at the Japan’s famous fish market, and sensational Korean fried chicken, how difficult is it to return to regular food?
“We certainly ate some of the very finest food in the world, but we aren't food snobs. We love egg and chips. As long as it’s a good, free-range egg and good potatoes, cooked in clean oil.” Dave
“That’s very true. We have such a great cuisine in the UK, and in most major cities around the UK, you can eat your way around the world. What is regular food these days? Everything is available - the fact remains that you can eat most things most of the time.” Si
What’s one life-changing recipe you can relay in a paragraph?
“Beef flat-ribbed broth. It’s a winner every time. It’s been a comfort food for generations of the Kingie clan. My mother would have this during the late autumn and winter months. It always came served with a local bread called Stotty. One kilo of beef flat rib, onions, celery, carrots, bay leaf, pearl barley, split peas, lentils, a leak, turnip, diced potatoes, salt, pepper. Throw into a big broth pot and cook for 2 hours. What comes out is something to make angels sing – a good proper working family's dinner.” Si
“For me, it would be my mother’s Yorkshire puddings, every time. Take 4 tablespoons of flour, heaped as much as you can, blend in a teaspoon of salt. Mix in 2 eggs (and don't worry about the lumps). Add some whole milk, and whisk, until the batter is the same consistency as single cream. Leave it to stand for a couple of hours to rest. The flour will kind of relax. When ready, put some oil or goose fat into a metal tin, [and] put it in a 200°C oven until the oil is smoking hot. Pour in the batter carefully at will, spatter up, pop it straight in the oven and cook it until it has risen like Vesuvius exploding. This recipe never fails – it will take about half an hour for a single big pud.” Dave
Photography by Andrew Hayes-Watkins.
Hairy Bikers' Asian Adventure airs Fridays, 7:30pm on SBS ONE.