Trained at the internationally recognised Culinary Institute of America in New York, Sandia Chang has since held positions in respected restaurants such as Simon Rogan’s Roganic and the 2 Michelin starred Marcus by Marcus Wareing’s who is the current judge at Masterchef: The Professional. Originally from California, she has also worked at Noma in Copenhagen, named the ‘World’s Best Restaurant’, and the 3 Michelin starred Per Se in New York.
Sandia is co-owner at both Bubbledogs and the Michelin starred Kitchen Table. Her Chinese heritage and Western cuisine experience have inspired her to come up with fusion, forward-thinking Asian recipes for Lee Kum Kee that can be easily done at home, packed with rich tastes with a touch of imagination. Sandia is also a regular presenter on BBC1’s Saturday Kitchen.
How did you celebrate Chinese New Year when you were younger and how do you celebrate it now?
When I was younger, my family celebrated it with a big feast on the eve of Chinese New Year along with close friends. I remember our door always being open and people constantly coming in and out for weeks. There were always trays of sweets and snacks out during the New Year celebrations.
What is the signature/special dish you would normally have with your family at Chinese New Year?
Fish. My mother always made whole braised fish.
In Chinese food culture, certain food items has special symbolic meaning, does it affect how you prepare a meal for special occasions, such as for a family reunion and inviting old friends around?
I totally believe in having noodles on my birthday. And fish on New Year.
Where and how did you learn to cook? Who/what is your biggest inspiration?
I learned to cook firstly by myself watching Jamie Oliver on The Naked Chef and reading cooking magazines and cookbooks. I then learned how to cook professionally at the Culinary Institute of America.
What does authentic Chinese food mean to you?
Fresh food. My mother’s cooking always fresh and nothing was too much of a hassle to make.
What do you envision for the future of Chinese food in the UK?
Real authentic Chinese food more specific to regional areas of China.
Is there an element of British food culture that you admire or has had an influence on your work, and why?
Working alongside my husband I have really learned a lot. I have seen, and now appreciate, the abundance of great ingredients that the UK has to offer, I was unaware of that previously.
What British ingredient are you most excited to cook with for Chinese dishes?
What ingredient do you always have in your fridge to make Chinese food? And what is your favourite Chinese dish(es)?
Lee Kum Kee Premium Oyster Sauce. My favourite Chinese dish is black vinegar braised pig feet.
Do you use oyster sauce often at home? If so, how do you normally use it?
I use it at least once a week. I make a very fast makeshift oyster noodles at least once a week to make me feel better.
Do you have a signature dish in which soy sauce takes centre stage? If so, what is it?
Red braised anything. Red braised chicken is my favourite.
Do you have a signature dish in which oyster sauce takes centre stage? If so, what is it?
My simple oyster sauce noodles with petit pois.
Have you tried using oyster sauce or soy sauce to make Western dishes? Please explain.
A fried egg sandwich with oyster sauce instead of brown sauce. I use soy sauce in my spaghetti bolognese sauce too.
Beside oyster sauce and soy sauce, which are your favourite Lee Kum Kee sauces?
Lee Kum Kee XO sauce. I use it a lot to sauté vegetables.
What does Lee Kum Kee mean to you?
I feel like it is the only brand I rely on for all the Chinese dishes that I make at home. It brings back memories of my mother’s cooking as well.
What do you normally cook when you're at home? And what would be your ideal dish that can cook up in under 15 minutes?
I love making Chinese red braise. It is also ideal for doing in under 15 minutes prep time, then you can just leave it on the stove and forget about it until you are ready.
If you could tell the home cooks of the world one thing, what would it be?
Clean up as you go along. The biggest downside of cooking is the washing up. But if you clean as you go, it makes it much more enjoyable at the end.