Chef Judy Joo's kitchen essentials, from pistachio paste to packet ramen noodles

Chef Judy Joo reveals the kit and condiments she can't live without

Judy Joo owns Seoul Bird in London
Judy Joo owns Seoul Bird in London Credit:  Nic Crilly-Hargrave

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.

Kitchen kit

“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

Fridge essential

Gochujang paste

“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.”

Store-cupboard saviour

“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.”

Food hero

“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

Midnight feast

Shin ramen

“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.