Ching’s Chinese New Year

Chef Ching-He Huang shares recipes from her new plant-based cookery book and reveals details of her forthcoming visit to the Ribble Valley, writes Jan Woolley

With the launch of her latest cookery book, Asian Green, world-renowned chef and cookery writer Ching-He Huang MBE is set to celebrate the Chinese New Year in the Ribble Valley.

Ching, who has appeared on TV shows worldwide, wrote Asian Green, a plant-based, vegan cookery book during lockdown.

Born in Taiwan, Ching’s philosophy is to use fresh, organic and ethically sourced ingredients to create modern dishes, fusing tradition with innovation, and it is with this ethos that she will be cooking with Victor Yu at Yu Copster Green on 3rd February 2022.

“These days, I think we are all a bit more conscious of what we are eating, we are more aware of eating sustainably.

“Asian Green is my tenth cookery book and it features healthy, everyday recipes using plant-based ingredients. It’s all about a flexible way of eating with different, exciting flavours,” explains Ching, whose husband Jamie was the inspiration for the book.

“I was inspired by how much his asthma and eczema improved after adopting a vegan diet. I started cooking plant-based meals for him and his health noticeably improved.”

Ching, who was awarded the MBE in 2020 for services to the culinary arts, has always believed in the age-old Chinese maxim that ‘food is medicine’ and in the power of plants to heal, restore and nourish.

The recipes in Asian Green are designed for optimal health, mindfulness and balance and Ching has a number of favourites: “Personally I love my sweet chilli tofu with water chestnuts. It’s a real celebratory dish – the cubes of tofu are like little gold nuggets – a symbol of prosperity. Chinese New Year is all about symbolism.”

As a global ambassador of Chinese cooking, Ching’s style has been very much influenced by the culinary traditions of her grandparents, who lived in a farming community in Southern Taiwan: “I remember my grandmother cooking on the farm for my extended family,” recalls Ching, who moved to South Africa when she was five.

“When we moved to South Africa my mum would still cook Chinese dishes to keep in touch with her heritage.”

Aged 11, Ching moved to the recession-hit UK: “We lived in London and during my teenage years my mum was working away quite a lot so she taught me how to cook a few simple dishes that I could cook for myself and my dad.”

Having gained a scholarship, Ching went on to study at university then set up her own food manufacturing business in 1999: “I started in a small kitchen in north London,” she recalls.

“We ended up producing fresh food, seven days a week for 10 years.”

She went on to become one of the UK’s best-known chefs appearing on TV with the likes of Michel Roux Jr, Cyrus Todiwala and Ken Hom: “I adore Ken Hom and I love my TV work,” says Ching, whose shows are broadcast throughout the world. She has also fronted her own UK series including Ching’s Kitchen, Chinese Food Made Easy and Ching’s Amazing Asia as well as hosting episodes of the BBC’s Saturday Kitchen Live.

Living with her husband in Surrey, Ching has a niece and three nephews, with whom she loves to cook: “It’s always a riot when I see them! I’ll always cook from scratch – maybe healthy plant-based burgers – and they help out, it’s very interactive.”

Having visited the Ribble Valley before with her collaborations with Victor Yu, Ching is delighted to be returning in February when she will meet guests and adding her touches to Victor’s Chinese New Year menu.

“For many years I have spent the Chinese New Year working but when I was younger it was always a big celebration with family and friends. It was a time when everyone came together to celebrate.

“I am really looking forward to my collaboration with Victor. It’s always a really busy evening and lots of fun!”

Asian Green by Ching-He Huang is published by Kyle Books priced £20



Tedd Walmsley

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