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(From Telegraph Magazine)
Byline: Francesca Ryan
The Australian chef and restaurateur Bill Granger, best known for his homestyle cooking and short, easy recipes, now wants to demystify the 'sometimes cheffy world' of Asian food. 'The flavours are really democratic, everyone loves them, but you don't need to be really specific with ingredients. If you're a foodie you would buy Chinese black vinegar and galangal – but it gets a bit silly. I use balsamic vinegar and ginger instead.' Bill's Everyday Asian, Granger's ninth book, features recipes inspired by some of his most memorable meals, from the first food he cooked, a Chinese chicken and sweetcorn soup at the age of 10, to the first Thai curries he ate on his gap year and the lamb satay from a roadside stall in Indonesia. 'You eat it off banana leaves with little cubes of rice. I just loved it. I love the idea of convenience food that's delicious.' Shot in Singapore and Sydney, the book is visually sumptuous.
Given his love of all things Asian, it is hard to believe that Granger, 42, and his younger brother, Steven, were brought up above the family's butcher's shop in Melbourne on traditional British fare – roasts served with reconstituted mashed potato and mixed grills with Worcestershire sauce. 'It was the 1970s,' Granger says, 'and as convenience food and supermarkets started appearing, people lost their home–cooking skills.' Though his mother was vegetarian, the vegetables they ate were frozen, dehydrated or tinned. 'Even fresh broccoli wasn't something we had.' As a child Granger's best friend was a Chinese boy whose family owned a local restaurant; when he was 10, he was introduced to dim sum. It was a revelation. 'The menu was all in Cantonese. It was the most exotic thing I'd ever seen. I ate chicken feet. It opened up a new world.'
Granger began to teach himself to cook, initially from his mother's Australian Women's Weekly cookbooks, and then from the books of Elizabeth David, Jane Grigson and Ada Boni, but it was on a trip to San Francisco at the age of 19 that he realised he …