Article

Insider knowledge: Shuk Ng

Categories: Behind the stalls

The regular face behind Ted’s Veg on her love of food and life at the Market

1—I have always worked in food. I’ve known the owners of Ted’s Veg, Kath and Ted, for more than 20 years from having stalls at the same farmers’ markets as them, where I was selling my cakes and preserves. I mentioned to Kath that I needed a part time job and she asked me to work with them. That was four years ago. I love it here. It’s flexible hours, I can do as many shifts as I want and there are real foodies here. I just love spending my time chatting about food.

2—My favourite time of year on the stall is now, because it’s challenging. It makes you more experimental. We have to work harder to make the stall look nice. It’s too easy in the summer and winter. You know it’s brussels sprouts or strawberries.

3—I’ve made loads of friends through working at the Market. We have two types of regulars: the ones who come every Saturday morning, to do their weekly shop—they always go for the home-grown stuff and get excited when new seasonal produce comes in—and the local ones, who come daily and buy what they need. They are the ones I know best. I know their names, I know their children—I’ve seen them grow up, some of them. It’s difficult at first to make that transition from customer to someone you have dinner with, but once you get chatting, maybe go for a coffee, you find you’ve loads more in common than you think.

4—I’ve been cooking a lot of button hole broccoli recently. It’s the first time Kath has grown it, and it’s delicious—like a sweeter kale, and it takes seconds to cook. I toss it in olive oil and wild garlic and I eat it by the plateful, just on its own.

5—I make all the chutneys and marmalades you see on the stall. It started because we had excess produce that wasn’t good enough to give to charity, which we do with most of our excess through Plan Zheroes, but I didn’t want to throw it away.

6—Celeriac is the most sadly underappreciated of vegetables—and it is one I love almost the most. If it weren’t for its look and feel, people would rave about it. It is absolutely delicious and so versatile. I make celeriac dauphinoise for my nephew. I tell him it’s potato, but I sneak quite a bit of celeriac in. I like it in anything.

7—I think working at Borough Market has made me love food even more than I did. I am not shy about trying new things any more—in fact, I love being a tester for different stallholders. The other day Noel Fitzjohn made a violet syrup and asked me to try it. It was scrumptious. There are things at the Market I’ve never heard of before and having more time has given me the chance to play around a bit more with food. If we have a new product on the stall I will go home and try it.

8—I can’t stand bananas. They are one of the few things that I don’t like. I think because, being from Asia, my mother had a very poor grasp of English cooking. She made a dish once, I think it was something a friend had recommended, of potatoes, bananas and salad cream, and it was absolutely disgusting. I can’t eat salad cream either, now.

9—Kids are always daring each other to eat a scotch bonnet. It’s one of the most common questions we get from them, “how hot is it?”, then they’ll stand outside the stall egging each other on.

10—I constantly get asked why we don’t grow our own bananas and avocadoes. Constantly. I tend to just point outside and say, have you seen the weather? On a miserable day that usually works.