As a judge on Cutthroat Kitchen, Jet Tila offers his spot-on critiques of chefs’ sabotaged dishes, but he doesn’t just dish out feedback — when it’s his turn in the kitchen, he also dishes up plenty of food of his own. This Los Angeles-based chef and restaurateur is known for his Asian-inspired cooking and his culinary expertise, which he’s offering up to fans near and far in his just-released cookbook, 101 Asian Dishes You Need to Cook Before You Die: Discover a New World of Flavors in Authentic Recipes.
We caught up with Jet about this new book when he visited Food Network Kitchen for a Facebook Live demo of what he calls My Famous Drunken Noodles (click here to watch the demo and get the recipe), and he told us, “I believe that everyone in America can be authentic Asian food.” Indeed this easy-to-follow cookbook breaks down the ins and outs of Asian cooking, and it’s chock-full of dishes you likely know and love but probably haven’t ventured to make at home, like tom yum soup, pad thai and drunken noodles. But with Jet’s go-to guide, your days of takeout are over. We’re giving five lucky, randomly selected readers the chance to win one signed copy each of 101 Asian Dishes You Need to Eat Before You Die. Read on below to hear from Jet, then find out how to enter to win the giveaway.
Alton Brown had something to do with getting this cookbook started, right? What’s the story behind that?
Jet Tila: Alton actually takes credit for this book coming into existence, because a few years ago, while we were doing Cutthroat Kitchen, I did his podcast, an he’s like: “Where’s your book dude? Where’s your book?” And I was like, “I’ve been resisting.” So, he was really the catalyst. “I was like, alright, I’m going to write the book now. Now you’ve got to write the forward.”
What five ingredients should everyone have on hand in order to make authentic Asian recipes?
JT: I believe that everyone in America can be authentic Asian food. We are finally in a time when you can get all the ingredients. So, this is what you need, in my opinion. Everyone needs fish sauce, because that covers Southeast Asia. Everyone needs oysters sauce, because although we’re already used to using soy, we need to expand into oyster sauce, because it covers way more flavors. It’s savory, it’s also sweet. It’s not just salty. It’s thick, it’s gooey. It covers things really well. You really need sweet soy sauce, which is really simple. You can even make it yourself; it’s 60 percent molasses to 40 percent to soy sauce. That’s all it is. Again, sweet and sticky and delicious. And then I would probably dabble with lemongrass if you’ve never played with it before — very, very easy to use. And then I think you need a Chinese soy sauce. Because everyone already has soy sauce in their pantry, and that works for Japanese food and Korean food. But you need a good Chinese thin soy sauce.
What’s the first dish someone should make after getting this cook?
JT: Let’s qualify it. if you are a beginner, I would say try the Chinese Chicken Salad and the Thai BBQ Chicken, because you’ll be like, “Wow, it was that easy, and I’m making authentic restaurant-quality food.” If you are slightly more advanced, play with the Thai curry — the Panag Chicken Curry. Because again, I think a lot of people have never made it or made it well. and these recipes will work every time.
What do you say to people who might think” “Ah, it’s just easier to order from my local delivery spot. It can be here in 10 minutes!”
JT: I’m not mad at you. We have two kids. We have a crazy life. But you need to cook to connect with your food, and if you’re parents like us, you need to cook with your kids to connect your kids to food and connect with your kids and get them off TV and devices. So, yes, takeout is convenient, but it’s not healthy, and it’s not as fun as doing it yourself.
Tell us about the drunken noodles you made on Facebook Live.
JT: It’s in my opinion the most-popular Thai noodle dish — where it used to be pad Thai, I think it’s all about drunken noodles now. All you need to really understand is blending the five flavors of Asian food — meaning hot, sour, salty, sweet, savory — together. And we call that the “yum.” Understand those flavors, and get yourself to a market and get these fresh rice noodles.
To be entered to win one of five signed copies of 101 Asian Dishes You Need to Eat Before You Die, leave a comment telling us your favorite Asian dish.
So, tell us: What’s your favorite dish? Leave a comment below.
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Open to legal residents of the 50 United States and D.C., age 21 or older. Void where prohibited. Odds of winning depend on number of entries received. Sweepstakes ends at 5:00 p.m. ET on July 13, 2017. Full official rules are available here. Sponsored by Television Food Network, G.P., 1180 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036.