Grocery shopping can be an arduous task at the best of times, let alone when the shelves are a solid 70% cleaned out. There are, however, a few simple hacks to avoid falling into any sort of panic-buying deluded frenzy, and if you do it right, you might even have yourself a meal you’ll be proud of.
In the hope of getting your cooking on lock during lockdown, we’ve called in the help of hospitality veteran, Jerry Mai. Notebooks out.
Image credit: Jana Langhorst
Jerry, What are 7 staple ingredients everyone should stock up on during lockdown?
- Instant noodles (not an ingredient but I reckon they are essential)
- A whole chicken (which you can break down and use multiple different ways)
- Fermented sauces (fish sauce, soy sauce etc.)
And of course lots of locally sourced vegetable.
What sorts of dishes can you make with ingredients like these?
You can make so many different meals with the above, especially dishes that you can make in large batches like fried rice, stews, soups, roasts. You could even try a chicken kiev if you’re feeling fancy.
And how about a simple dish that'll feed your flatmates or your family?
There’s nothing better than a nutritious and warming broth using chicken bones (roasted off in butter) some shredded chicken, greens and my guilty pleasure… instant noodles.
And what are some of the easier ways you can create bold flavours when cooking at home?
Now that you might have a lot of time on your hands, try slow cooking to get the most flavours out of things. Another thing you can do to add some intensity is to integrate ferments into your cooking or to garnish at the end—try fish sauce, soy sauce or xo sauce for a salty umami kick, or kimchi to brighten dishes with a bit of sourness.
supermarkets aren't the only places still open for groceries, where else can people go to stock up on quality ingredients?
We should always be supporting our small community producers and providers, and now it’s more important than ever. Butchers, fishmongers and greengrocers are all still open and trading, many are now offering delivery services too. Once this situation is behind us, please remember to continue supporting them—they are a massive asset to our community.
It’s also worth noting that plenty of restaurants and cafes have converted themselves into grocers. They’ll be advertising this on their websites and social media, so check what your local has on offer and support them as much as you can. With your help, they might be able to reopen once this is all behind us.
And what's your go-to, no-fuss meal you'd make at home?
I love making beef mapo tofu because it’s so comforting and you can use it in so many different ways. It’s kind of like an Asian bolognese. We eat it over rice, with noodles and in toasties at our place.