Judy Joo’s career has involved her cooking everything from fine dining fare at Claridge’s to serving Hugh Hefner his favourite meal in the Playboy Club. The jet-setting Korean-American chef caught up on some well-deserved rest during lockdown (“I’ve obviously been cooking up a storm, too!” she says), but was thrilled that Seoul Bird, her London restaurant specialising in Korean fried chicken and other street food favourites, opened last month for dining in. We take a peek in her kitchen to find out what kind of kit, condiments, sauces and secret snacks she can’t do without.
“My WellnessMat anti-fatigue mat – I have this awesome springy anti-fatigue mat on my kitchen floor that is a joy to stand on. Long hours on my feet don’t feel half as bad when I stand on this soft, supportive mat. Everyone who cooks a lot needs to invest in one! They also come in plenty of different colours and patterns.” wellnessmats.com
“It has to be Gochujang paste – Korean fermented chilli paste; it adds deep flavour and umami to anything. It’s perfect to use in dips, dressings, marinades and soups. It is so versatile and will quickly become your favourite chilli sauce. I add a spoonful to chicken soup to give it some nice warm heat and complexity; it’s even perfect to bring your spaghetti sauce up a notch by adding a small spoonful. Try to find one that is naturally fermented, as it makes a big difference in the taste. I use Macgguroom, which I’ve yet to find in the UK, but Sunchang [available from souschef.co.uk] is also very good.”
“Good soy sauce – I use naturally aged soy sauce. Like an aged balsamic vinegar, the depth of flavour is wondrously complex and full of deep umami notes. And, traditionally, aged soy sauces are gluten-free as the fermentation process has not been forced with the addition of wheat or yeast. Sempio Yanjo-Ganjang 501 (super premium) can be bought from hmart.co.uk and other online retailers.”
“My favourite fishmonger is Celtic Fish and Game in St Ives in Cornwall. It’s a small, family-run business with the daughters Emma, Naomi and Hannah at the helm. I treated myself during lockdown and ordered gigantic fresh live lobsters from them. They have the most glorious seafood, all caught off Cornwall. They care a lot about sustainability as well – something that can’t be ignored anymore when making food choices.”
Celtic Fish and Game, Penbeagle Industrial Estate, St Ives TR26 2JH; celticfishandgame.com
“I love instant ramen noodles – specifically Shin ramen. I pimp it up with fresh veggies and throw in some frozen dumplings and prawns (I always have these in my freezer for just this occasion), finishing with a runny egg, it’s my not-so-guilty, guilty pleasure.” Buy Shin ramen at souschef.co.uk.