MasterChef host John Torode takes us on a journey through Thailand, Malaysia and South Korea in his new cookbook. Lauren Taylor finds out more

IT might not feel like it, but MasterChef veteran John Torode has been putting amateur cooks, and some famous faces, through their paces for 13 years on the popular BBC show. And while you might know him best for his TV partnership with co-host Gregg Wallace, he's also just published his 11th cookbook.

The chef, 52, hails from Melbourne, Australia, but has been living in the UK for 27 years. His first culinary love, however, comes from much further afield - the street food of the Far East, which, Torode says, "the world is slowly falling in love with".

His new book, Sydney To Seoul, is a culmination of a lifetime of travels around the east of the continent, his Australian heritage, and stories and conversations with street sellers and local chefs who've shared or influenced the recipes he's featured.

Torode's exploration into Asian cooking begun back in the Nineties - "I discovered a world that is fresh and delicious" - and that discovery has influenced his work ever since, from his restaurant menus to the dishes he and his actress partner, Lisa Faulkner, rustle up at home.

The focus is really on food that grew out of necessity, which ordinary people knock up at home every day in Thailand, or grab from street food stalls in Seoul. "I wanted people to understand it's not about big things, it's about lots of little things," he says. "I find big plates of food scary now."

From simple Thai classics like fish cakes and som tam (green papaya salad), to karipap pusing (curry puffs) from Malaysia, pajeon (seafood and spring onion pancakes) from South Korea and duck noodle soup from China, the book is a journey of cheap street eats, vibrant curries and fragrant broths. Like his accent though, Torode's latest book still has an unmistakable Aussie twang - an entire barbecue chapter and brunches that would be perfectly at home in cafes along Sydney Harbour.

The book also taps into just how much home-cooking has changed in recent years. "Now, we're seeing a world where you can get the ingredients," says Torode. "If I'd put Thai fish cakes in a recipe book 10 years ago, people wouldn't necessarily cook it - but now it seems everyone has a bottle of chilli sauce in their cupboard, and coriander is in everybody's fridge, instead of just parsley. Sainsbury's stock gochujang, fish sauce is on every shelf."

  • John Torode's Sydney To Seoul: Recipes From My Travels In Australia And The Far East (Headline, £27)



(serves 6)

200g trimmed lamb fillets or a 200g loin of lamb

50ml vegetable oil

10 lime leaves, cut into julienne

3 long fresh red chillies, cut into julienne

A good handful of fresh coriander leaves

A good handful of fresh Thai basil leaves

100g beansprouts

For the dressing

50ml fresh lime juice

50ml vegetable oil

2tbsp fish sauce

1 small fresh red chilli, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, sliced


1. Heat a heavy-based pan over a high heat. Rub the lamb all over with the vegetable oil and then sear it quickly on both sides - the fillets take just a few minutes; the loin will take a good eight to 10 minutes.

2. Remove the lamb to a plate and leave to rest for five minutes.

3. Meanwhile, combine all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl, mixing together well.

4. Slice the lamb thinly, then put into a bowl with the cooking juices, the lime leaves, chillies and herbs and toss through. Add the beansprouts and a tablespoon of the dressing and toss to mix.

5. Serve on individual plates or in a big bowl and dribble the remaining dressing over.



(serves 4-6)

For the pickled red onions

100ml rice, coconut or apple vinegar

100g caster sugar

1 red onion, finely sliced

For the salmon

4tsp vegetable oil

100ml lime juice

3 drops of good-quality sesame oil

25ml olive oil

100ml coconut vinegar

4tsp fish sauce

4tsp sugar syrup

200g skinless salmon fillet, very finely diced

To serve

½ cucumber, half peeled, deseeded and diced

2 spring onions, very finely sliced

A handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Kimchi (shop bought or make your own)

Stack of small soft white corn taco shells

100g Japanese mayonnaise


1. For the pickled red onions, put the vinegar and sugar into a pot and bring to the boil.

2. Remove from the heat as soon as it comes to the boil, leave to cool for two minutes, then drop in the onion and stir. Set to one side until cold.

3. For the salmon, mix all the liquids together in a bowl, then add the salmon, stir, and leave for 10 minutes.

4. To assemble and serve, mix together the cucumber, spring onions, coriander and pickled red onion slices and add to the salmon mixture. Stir well.

5. Warm the taco shells according to the packet instructions. Spoon the salmon mixture and kimchi into the tacos, then squidge some Japanese mayo over each one. Serve immediately.