Hairy Bikers: Asian recipes to tantalise your tastebuds

Date:14-02-2014 08:58:30 read:4

Hairy Bikers: Asian recipes to tantalise your tastebuds

Fresh from their travels around Asia, the Hairy Bikers have put together a new cookbook to rev up our tasetbuds

Men on a mission: The Hairy Bikers have explored Asian to find the most enticing dishes Photo: Andrew Hayes-Watkins

We’re lucky lads. We’ve been off on our travels again – this time to Asia to discover all kinds of wonderful things to eat and cook. And what a time we’ve had. This trip has been our dream for years and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Asian food is fresh, tasty and exciting, with so many different textures and lively flavour combinations. We love it more than ever now.

Our Asian adventure started in Hong Kong with Cantonese food – perhaps one of the most familiar to us in Britain. We went on to sample the culinary delights of Japan and Thailand and then to enjoy the bold, spicy food of Korea – less well known to us but oh so good.

Waterside street food in Bangkok (ANDREW HAYES-WATKINS)

You might think this kind of food is tricky to prepare but it is really not. The main ingredients are things you cook with all the time, such as chicken, beef, pork, fish and prawns. Yes, there are few things in the recipes that you may not have heard of but have a go and you’ll be a dab hand with the dashi.

One of the wonderful things about many Asian dishes is that they are quick. Whack it all in a wok and you’ve supper on the table in no time. You do need to think ahead a bit and get everything in, and some dishes also need marinating, but it is not difficult. The important thing is to have everything chopped, grated, peeled and crushed before you start cooking, then the rest is a breeze.

One thing that we hadn’t realised was the amount of regional variation. Thailand, for example, is almost as big as France and has as much diversity in its cooking. The food in Tokyo is so different from the meals we had in the more traditional city of Kyoto. But the big discovery was street food. It is every­where and we ate anything we could get our hands on. People pick up onigiri rice balls, for example, for a quick bite just as we might grab a pasty at the garage. In the market in Tokyo everyone was eating octopus balls in the way that we might dig into a bag of chips. Eating out in some of these countries is so good and so cheap that it is a way of life for many people. In Bangkok there are apartments built without kitchens because people don’t need or use them.

A market in Hong Kong (ANDREW HAYES-WATKINS)

Our Asian adventure was a mind-blowing experience and we learnt so much about the food of the countries we visited. We discovered some amazing dishes and we came back more excited than ever about Asian food. So get ready to tantalise your taste buds and get cooking Asian-style.



This extraordinary city is the gateway to China and just the place for two Brits to start a culinary adventure. We made fresh dim sum in a Hong Kong market, and found it almost impossible not to eat more than we made. We went dragon boat racing. We cooked on a dai pan dong – a kind of street-food stall – and served up our dish to Alvin Leung, a local Michelin-starred chef. Best of all, though, was the home cooking. We were lucky enough to be invited to share supper at the home of Grandma Lulu, who, with only a wok and a chopper, cooked up a banquet for six in her family’s little apartment. It was real local food – comforting, tasty and full of flavour.

Hairy Bikers: Hong Kong chow mein recipe


Thailand is living proof that good food makes happy people. We’ve never been anywhere where people are as obsessed with food as they are in Thailand – they are always thinking and talking about food, planning the next meal while grazing on delicious little snacks. For us, the highlight was the street food. Bangkok has a bewildering array of incredible dishes available at every turn. There are four basic flavours in Thai cooking – hot, salty, sweet and sour – and the balance of these in a dish is all-important. Stock up on some Thai flavours – characteristic ingredients are fragrant lemongrass and lime leaves, hot spicy chillies and aromatic herbs – and it is all perfectly possible to cook at home.

Hairy Bikers: Thai green papaya salad (som tum) recipe

Hairy Bikers: Pad Thai recipe


Everyone seemed to eat huge quantities of sashimi, more than sushi, which we didn’t see so much of. People don’t have ovens at home and they rely on the hob, fish grill and rice steamer to put together quick, healthy meals. But there is a naughty side to Japanese food and they enjoy lots of deep-fried dishes. Western influence has created a style of fusion food in Japan called yoshuku. It works really well for us Brits as well as for the Japanese and by golly it’s good. Ingredients such as ketchup and Worcestershire sauce are used alongside traditional Japanese foods to create dishes.

We learnt how to make tofu and ramen and how to knead noodles the traditional way – with our feet! We visited an aged noodle maker who showed us how he covered the dough with sheets of plastic and then stomped on it. We also discovered the delights of miso soup, which we ate every day for breakfast.

The food is all about balance and harmony and it’s good for both your soul and your waistline.

Hairy Bikers: Beef sukiyaki recipe


We didn’t know much about South Korean food when we arrived in the country, but we soon discovered what a bold, bright, fiery cuisine it is. The food is highly flavoured and just right for us spice-loving Brits. Characteristic ingredients in Korean cooking are gochujang chilli paste, gochugaru chilli powder and a thick soya bean paste called doenjang.

Hairy Bikers: Korean dumplings (mandu) recipe

Hairy Bikers Asian Adventure by Si King and Dave Myers (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £20) is available for £15 plus £1.35 p&p from Telegraph Books (0844-871 1514;

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