Wok the talk

Armando Reed on durians, comfort food and giving Western staples an Asian spin

Published: 13th December 2013 08:33 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th December 2013 08:33 AM   |  A+A-

A hot guy who cooks is an instant viewer magnet and Armando Reed is no exception. Armando’s Asian Twist on TLC, launched here last month, is off to a good start. On the show, Reed, 33, of Taiwanese, German and Spanish heritage, travels across Taiwan in search of inspiration for food ranging from national dishes to local street staples. He then gets back to the kitchen to prepare Western dishes with ingredients from Asian cuisine. More from him:

I want viewers to say, “If Armando can do it, I can do it too.” I want them to say, “Okay, let’s think out of the box, what’s my skill set, what can I do? What’s local and fresh and what can I turn that into?”

Many Asian twists come from trying to make do with ingredients that aren’t obtainable. We replace something in the recipe with an alternative which has a distinctive Asian flavour. There’s one particular episode where we use snails as an ingredient. You have  the escargot French style and then there are snails done in an aboriginal style here in Taiwan-stir-fried with garlic and some hot chillies. I wanted to do something that would bring the best of both worlds together. It tingles on the palate.

Memorable foods? Eating durian in the rainforest in Penang, food in Singapore, street food in Beijing... I don’t even know where to narrow it down. My worst experiment was the first time I made cookies. I was six. You’re supposed to use teaspoons versus tablespoons and I used tablespoons of salt. They looked fantastic and the minute I put one in my mouth it was a salty, bitter disappointment.

My comfort food is my grandmother’s cooked chicken with thick chocolate sauce, from Latin America. They use unsweetened cocoa. It’s spicy hot and it’s cool at the same time because of the chocolate. Whenever I eat it, I know I’m in the right place.

Armando’s Asian Twist airs today on TLC at 9 pm.

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