Joanita Wibowo

Food & Wine

Jimmy Shu’s best tips for cooking during coronavirus outbreak

Jimmy Shu’s best tips for cooking during coronavirus outbreak

In recent weeks, Australians have had to get creative when preparing their food as coronavirus restrictions continue to be maintained across the country.

Home cooks are left racking their brains for ways to work with limited ingredients – however, this should not be a barrier to creating tasty, wholesome meals, says Chinese-Sri Lankan restaurateur Jimmy Shu.

In an interview with Over60, the chef and host of SBS Food’s Taste of the Territory shares his best tips on making the most out of what you’ve got in your kitchen.

Over60: What are some of your top restaurant kitchen practices that could be transferred to cooking at home?

Jimmy Shu: Good cooking is not about fancy equipment or complicated recipes. Simple ingredients cooked well will always lead to a delicious meal, and this is the approach I take in my restaurants and also at home. I would say the key practice home cooks can take from restaurants would be to fully prep all your ingredients before you start cooking – chopping and measuring might feel tedious, but it’s often the difference between a well-executed meal and a haphazard one.

What have you been cooking at home?

I’ve been cooking my version of comfort food, which is lots of curries and stir-fries. They’re great to cook right now as they mostly use pantry staples, like curry paste and coconut milk, plus your choice of protein and vegetables. I keep mine very simple with just one or two kinds of veggies. My favourite recipe is one I cook in the show, Barramundi Meen Moilee. We’re lucky to have a constant supply of fresh seafood in Darwin, and this recipe is spicy and fresh tasting. 

What are your must-have basic ingredients at home?

I think everyone should have a well-stocked pantry of Asian ingredients that last a long time, like soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, dried chillies and coconut milk. Fresh ingredients like ginger, turmeric and lemongrass also last a long time if you store them correctly, and can be frozen easily.

How can amateur and home cooks make the most out of a small amount of ingredients?

Herbs and spices can very easily take pantry staples and make them into a delicious meal. I recommend everyone has a good look at what you have in your pantry and aim to use it up before buying new ingredients. Combining a cooked grain – rice, lentils or pasta – with vegetables and protein is a super simple recipe formula, and home cooks can take these elements to the next level by adding some delicious herbs and spices – dried herbs, chilli flakes, soy sauce, sambal, rice vinegar, miso and kimchi all last for a long time in the pantry or fridge, and add an incredible amount of flavour to basic dishes.