At home with Tim Anderson
Ilive in Ladywell, in southeast London, in a modern building nestled in a little close. My wife, Laura, is British, but I’m originally from the midwest, Wisconsin, and when I left for college as a teenager, my mom sent me off with this family recipe book (1). It’s full of Anderson favourites, such as rumaki (a faux-Polynesian recipe of pineapple, chicken livers or scallops marinated in soy sauce and port, then wrapped in bacon and grilled) and tuna stroganoff – a staple in my lean years! When there’s little in the house, I refer back to it for inspiration.
I’d always been fascinated by Japan and its food. I loved anime and J-Pop as a teenager, and at college in Los Angeles – where I studied Japanese history – I became ramen-obsessed, which is easy in LA: there’s Little Tokyo and so many good places to eat it. I like ramen to be salty, with flecks of back fat in the broth, thin, hard noodles, garlic, beansprouts ... and you gotta have an egg ... all in a deep round bowl (2). But there’s always space for instant noodles (3) – they’re an emergency thing, but undeniably good.
I started cooking when I was in high school, but it was only when I moved to Japan after graduation that things started to get serious. I met Laura there and bought her the cutesy Frypanda pan (4) – quite simply a frying pan with a panda face on it – but as you can see we’ve got good use out of it.
I think everyone should have a blowtorch (5). I use mine for getting coals going on a barbecue, for finishing the skin on fish with some crispness and colour, also to cook through little scallops, for ‘smores without a bonfire ... and for cheese on toast.
In my stash of Japanese essentials
(6) I include dashi powder. It’s not a cheat like using a stock cube ‘cos it tastes really good! Smoky, fishy, umami. It’s a flavour enhancer, really: my mother-in-law always adds it to fried rice. To make dashi from scratch, you need konbu (seaweed) and fushi (dried tuna or mackerel flakes). I also like this soy sauce (7) – it’s mellow, subtle, not too aggressive or sweet. I put it in everything I cook, including spag bol. Thirdly, miso – a light, creamy white one for veg, and a caramelised, nutty red one for meat such as pork.
For all my Japanese ingredients, I can’t live without Old Bay seasoning
(8). Oh my god, I use it for everything – for eggs, for casseroles – yup, for cheese on toast ... It’s a very Southern blend of spices – celery salt, red and black pepper, paprika – a savoury Bloody Mary kinda flavour.
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