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Best of times, worst of times: Shuk Ng

Categories: Behind the stalls

The likes and dislikes of Shuk Ng from Ted’s Veg

Fantasty job
I would love to teach children with special educational needs how to cook, but in an environment where it hasn’t got the pressure of a job. I think of it as the kind of thing I would like to do when I am retired, and don’t have the pressures of work. I enjoy cooking and am a trained pastry chef. Working in food gives me so much pleasure, I think giving something back would be a great thing to do. Also, there is an unconditional connection when you teach children that way.

Favourite childhood food
Salt and pepper langoustines with chilli, a dish my father used to cook. I was born in Hong Kong and spent my first seven years there, before my family came to England. I didn’t speak English and it was a bit touch and go at times, but food was a constant joy for me. This is a dish from those times and I still love it to this day. I have lots of happy memories of diving into plates of it with my fingers.

Best meal
It was angel hair pasta and scallops, with I think a beurre blanc sauce. It was several years ago at Carluccio’s restaurant in Covent Garden. I had been taken there for my birthday and Antonio Carluccio was cooking that night. He came out and signed my menu, because it was a birthday treat. I can still remember the textures, the layers of flavours and thinking how beautifully cooked everything was.

Signature dish
I make very good gluten free chocolate brownies. I thought I would try to make one as there are so many people who have intolerance issues, but who love brownies. The final recipe turned out to be really wonderful, and most people who taste it don’t realise it is gluten free until I tell them.

Worst kitchen disaster
It was when I decided to have some friends round for a barbecue in my tiny Soho flat. I have no outside space, just a little Juliet balcony, and I decided to set up the barbecue on that. Unfortunately, once the charcoal had reached the stage where it was really smoky, the wind changed and suddenly smoke was billowing into the flat. It set off the fire alarm, which got everyone a bit panicky and the neighbours were on the verge of calling the fire brigade which would have meant evacuating the block.

Luckily we just about managed to get the word out about what it was. It was all very embarrassing. But the silver lining is that the guy in the flat below mine said that if I ever wanted another barbecue, I was free to use his garden.

Favourite holiday destination
I love Morocco: the colours, the flavours, the spices, it’s just so vibrant. I also love the people. Once you get to know them, they are really lovely. My fantasy trip, though, is to go to Kerala in India. The dishes that come out of that region are beautiful and I would love to go there and explore it for myself.

Best film
Most recently, I would say Inside Out. It’s an animated film where the emotions in a young girl are represented by a group of characters living inside her head. They are always arguing about who should be in charge in different situations. It was a real corker of a film. Really charming.

Worst film
The Secret Life of Pets. It just wasn’t very good. Funny, I’ve just realised I’ve chosen two cartoons.

Favourite book
To Kill a Mockingbird. I first read it at school but keep going back to it. I Just love the whole story and I get something out of it every time I read it. I did read Go Set a Watchman, but approached it as a book Haper Lee wrote first and it was rejected, so I was not expecting a masterpiece. In fact, it increased my admiration of To Kill a Mockingbird, seeing part of the journey that she took to get there.

Favourite album
Urban Hymns by The Verve.

Best gig
That was Richard Ashcroft after he had left The Verve. It was a really intimate gig where he did some of his solo stuff and some of The Verve’s songs. There were a few of us, all good friends. It was a tiny little venue but it was just one of those wonderful evenings where everything was perfect.

Favourite thing about London
That you can do anything you want—that’s what I like about the city. It’s cosmopolitan, it is a really chilled out city, you meet many interesting people and the majority of people are really open.

Favourite city
I love Paris. The food is absolutely wonderful, as are the galleries and museums. Everywhere is a destination. The architecture is fantastic and it’s great to just hang around in the city.

Biggest bugbear
I really hate it when people drop litter. That really gets to me, I think it is really rude. I remember once seeing a person in their car peeling prawns and throwing the shells out of the window while they were driving along. I couldn’t believe it.

Favourite way to relax
I read a lot. I’m not into any particular genre, but Khaled Hosseini who wrote The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns is one of my favourite authors. I also like to cook for and entertain my friends.

Favourite drink
I love a gin and tonic, it is a great drink for all occasions. If you’ve had a bad day a G&T helps; if you’ve had a good day it’s a nice way to round it off.

Hangover cure
I don’t get them. I’ve tried really hard, believe me, but they just don’t happen.