Fresh spring rolls

The new New Zealand is mak­ing bet­ter cooks of us all

Weekend Herald - Canvas - - CANVAS & BREAST CANCER FOUNDATION NZ -

The other day I jumped in the car, brav­ing Auck­land’s traf­fic to head over the bridge to a Korean food mar­ket in Al­bany. Ear­lier in the year a col­league turned up with the gift of a bunch of fresh shiso (per­illa) leaves and a stunning por­ta­ble Korean bar­be­cue pur­chased there, so I’d been hang­ing out to get up there my­self to check it out.

Walk­ing into the store was like be­ing in Kore­atown in Los An­ge­les. The sig­nage was all in Korean, the prod­ucts were all Korean, and ev­ery­one spoke Korean and hardly any English. I had no idea what half the stuff for sale was, but there were so many things I wanted to try. I came away with red rice (my lo­cal Korean take­away makes a fab­u­lous bibim­bap us­ing this tasty, nu­tri­tious rice), fresh kim­chi and a cou­ple of pack­ets of rice pa­per wrap­pers. I could eas­ily have stocked up on ev­ery imag­in­able Asian pantry sup­ply — and it was all so cheap.

More than 200 eth­nic groups are recorded as liv­ing in Auck­land and it is now con­sid­ered more cul­tur­ally di­verse than Lon­don or Syd­ney. With nearly 40 per cent of Auck­land res­i­dents born out­side New Zealand and nearly a quar­ter of th­ese iden­ti­fy­ing with one or more Asian eth­nic groups, it comes as no sur­prise that there’s amaz­ing Asian food and a huge range of Asian in­gre­di­ents here.

But it’s not just Asians who are chang­ing the face of the New Zealand plate. Half of the Mid­dle Eastern, Latin Amer­i­can and African eth­nic group pop­u­la­tions in New Zealand also live in Auck­land. Head to­wards Pen­rose and you will find some amaz­ing Le­banese food. San­dring­ham is a hub for all flavours In­dian, and wan­der­ing down Do­min­ion Rd you can pretty much eat the world. From all over the globe, im­mi­grants are bring­ing us the flavours and dishes of their home­lands, mak­ing our food scene one of the most dy­namic in the world. This is the new New Zealand, and it’s mak­ing bet­ter cooks of all of us.

Tast­ing a new in­gre­di­ent opens the door to a new cul­ture and, with it, new ways of look­ing at food. Be­fore long you find your­self ref­er­enc­ing th­ese new flavours in your own cook­ing, in new and fresh ways.

Rice pa­per wraps are a great ex­am­ple of the way a new in­gre­di­ent as­sim­i­lates and morphs into our Kiwi cul­ture. We buy them, not­ing how cheap they are, and, back in the kitchen, quickly es­tab­lish how easy they are to work with (there are just a cou­ple of tricks – watch me show­ing Niva Re­ti­manu the ropes at nzherald.co.nz).

We make some rolls, likely start­ing with the tried and true clas­sic Asian com­bi­na­tions. In such a sim­ple way our culi­nary lan­guage ex­pands and morphs. At home, th­ese in­gre­di­ents make everyday cook­ing so much more in­ter­est­ing. Like all of the Spring­board Recipes in my new book Es­sen­tial, once you know the ba­sic for­mula, you can change up the in­gre­di­ents to suit the sea­sons, your mood and what you’ve got to hand in the pantry. This is the new New Zealand food scene. Aren’t we lucky!

PORK AND PRAWN SPRING ROLLS WATCH ANNABEL AND NIVA RE­TI­MANU MAKE FRESH SPRING ROLLS WITH PORK AND PRAWNS AT NZHERALD.CO.NZ

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