A Gay Guy’s Guide to
Life Love Food is a quirky and joyful cookbook that celebrates life, love, family and friendship, all through the lens of outrageously delicious food. Join current Masterchef favourite and resident gay guy, Khanh Ong, as he helps you rediscover how food can make you feel, how it can bring people together, and help you reconnect.
Khanh shares his favourite recipes passed down through generations, giving an insight into his family history – Vietnamese classics such as pork and prawn spring rolls and tamarind crab. There are recipes to make for (and with!) your mates – lazy brunches, epic feasts, movie nights – as well as food to heal a broken heart, such as spaghetti for one and a snickers tart.
Khanh also includes the meals he cooks to impress a date, from Vegemite dumplings or sriracha and coconut cauliflower, to sticky date pudding. Or if you feel like being basic, there are post-gym eggs, 3pm protein balls, and the easiest fried chicken EVER.
With more than 70 recipes and charming anecdotes about life, love, family and dating, A Gay Guy’s Guide to
Life Love Food is an explosion of fashion-led fun and influence, delicious food, Khanh’s distinctive tongue-in-cheek humour and Queer Eye sensibility. As Khanh says, food is more than just sustenance: it’s love, it’s loss, and it’s life.
Thanks to Pan Macmillan, we have three recipes to share from A Gay Guy’s Guide to
Life Love Food to help you reconnect with your loved ones. Enjoy these teasers and look out for both the book, which is out now, and our review which will be coming soon!
Vietnamese Iced Coffee AKA The Best Coffee in the World (Ca Phe Sua Da), page 20
Ca phe sua da is extremely addictive and so easy to make. Traditionally, it’s made in a coffee phin, which is a small stainless steel filtering device. The hot coffee drips through the filter onto a glass of ice, emitting the most wonderful aromas, which go so well with the condensed milk. This shit is so good, I’m legit craving it as I write. You can cheat if you don’t have a phin filter by using espresso, but this process is so worth it – plus the filters are cheap and easy to find at your Asian grocer.
- 1 cup ice cubes
- 2 tablespoons Vietnamese ground coffee or other medium‑grind coffee
- 125 ml (½ cup) boiling water that’s been left to cool down for 1 minute (you want the water to be around 90°C)
- 1–2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
Pop the ice into a serving glass. Place your Vietnamese coffee phin over the top of the glass and spoon the coffee into the phin.
Add the cooled boiled water then pop the lid on the phin and watch as the coffee drips onto the ice. Leave to fully filter through – this will usually take about 4 minutes. Once finished, add a tablespoon or two of sweetened condensed milk depending on how sweet you like your coffee.
Gnocchi for Gays, page 83
I made this recipe because I was way overdue for a catch-up with my favourite boys – one of whom is actually holding this dish in the photo on the next page … nice arms, right? I served this alongside three salads and two other pasta dishes, but I think we all agreed that this was the absolute stand-out of the day, which is why it’s here for you.
Let’s talk about my gays. They make me laugh, they make me cry, they deal with my melodramatic and melancholic personality, they make me want abs (they all have abs; I don’t know how that’s even possible due to their constant consumption of carbs). They sometimes make me cringe, but without them I would be a sheltered gay man not fully exposed to our wonderful community. For that, I love them dearly.
Serves 4–6 (of my favourite gays)
- 1 kg starchy potatoes, such as Yukon gold or royal blue (try to choose potatoes that are medium sized and fairly uniform)
- 120–150 g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- sea salt
- 180 g butter, cut into cubes
- 1 bunch of sage, leaves picked
- zest of 1 lemon
- juice of ½ lemon
- 50 g (⅓ cup) toasted pine nuts
- nice chunk of parmesan, to serve
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Pop the potatoes on a baking tray and bake them for 35–45 minutes until you can prick them with a skewer with no resistance. Keep checking them because the time will depend on your spuds.
While the potatoes are still as hot as you can handle, chop them in half and use a spoon to scoop the insides into a mixing bowl. Using a potato ricer, rice the potato onto a lightly floured work surface.
Sift 120 g of the flour onto the potato and add a generous pinch of salt. Gently bring the potato and flour together into a dough. You don’t want to overwork it, the dough should be soft and just holding together. If the mixture is too wet, add a little more flour. (You can test a pinch of dough by dropping it in boiling water – if it breaks apart, add more flour.)
Lightly flour your work surface again. Roll pieces of your perfect dough into logs about 2 cm thick, then cut into 3 cm lengths. You can roll each gnocchi over a fork if you’re pairing them with a heartier sauce, but we are frying these so I like them to look like pillows.
Bring a large saucepan of heavily salted water to the boil and cook the gnocchi for 1–2 minutes until they rise to the surface.
While the gnocchi is cooking, pop 50 g of the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. By the time the butter melts, your gnocchi should be starting to rise to the surface. As they do, lift them out with a slotted spoon, drain well, then throw them into the frying pan and cook, giving them a gentle toss occasionally to coat in the butter, for 2–4 minutes until golden. Transfer to a serving platter and keep warm.
Wipe out the frying pan, then throw in the remaining butter and cook over medium–high heat for 3–5 minutes or until brown and fragrant. Add the sage leaves and cook until crisp. Pour the sage butter over the gnocchi and sprinkle with the lemon zest and juice and toasted pine nuts.
Serve immediately with a block of parmesan and a cheese shaver, and let your mates add as much as they want.
Thai Green Curry, page 160
Okay, it’s date night, but you’ve moved past the stage where you’re cooking elaborate dishes with three elements plus a separate sauce and plating it beautifully, because, well, you’ve hidden your inner crazy for long enough now (I’m not speaking from experience or anything). But you still want to make something yum, something casual that still shows some care. This Thai curry is for those cosy nights in front of the TV, with a goblet of wine in hand and comfortably not talking to each other while you eat.
I find a lot of people are afraid to make their own curry paste. Everyone can make a green curry but people seem to shy away from the paste. I’m making it easy for you. A lot of the ingredients in this recipe you’ll already have in your pantry; it may seem like a lot but that’s what really rounds out the flavour. I’ve also upped the quantity because if you’re gonna make green curry paste you might as well make enough to have on hand for your next five date nights. Also, you’ll need the paste for my green curry prawn toast (page 162), which is legit the best brunch ever.
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 250 g skinless chicken breast, finely sliced
- 400 ml can coconut milk
- 250 ml (1 cup) chicken stock
- 1 zucchini, sliced
- 100 g broccoli florets
- ½ red capsicum, deseeded and chopped
- 100 g sugar snap peas, trimmed
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 370 g (2 cups) cooked brown or wild rice
- 180 g (2 cups) bean sprouts
- small handful of coriander leaves
- sliced red chilli, to serve (optional)
- 2 tablespoons crushed Salted Peanuts (page 26)
- 2 lime wedges
Green Curry Paste
- 2 lemongrass stalks, white part only, roughly chopped
- 4 long green chillies, roughly chopped
- 2–6 Thai green chillies (depending on how hot you like it), roughly chopped
- 5 red shallots, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons grated galangal
- 7 cm piece of ginger, chopped
- 5 garlic cloves, chopped
- 3 coriander roots and stems, washed
- 6 makrut lime leaves (see page 13), chopped
- 2 teaspoons dried shrimp paste
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 teaspoons grated palm sugar
- zest and juice of 1 lime, plus extra juice if needed
- 2–4 tablespoons coconut milk
To make the curry paste, process all the ingredients in a food processor (or blender or grinder – anything that chops, really) to form a paste, adding the coconut milk 1 tablespoon at a time just to make blending easier. Taste the paste – if it’s too salty, add more lime; if you want more heat, add more chilli; if it’s too hot, add more coconut milk. Set 3 tablespoons of the curry paste aside and see the Tips opposite for what to do with the rest.
Melt the coconut oil in a saucepan over high heat. Add the chicken and cook, stirring frequently, for 5–7 minutes until lightly browned. In goes the 3 tablespoons of curry paste. Cook for 2–3 minutes until fragrant, then add the coconut milk and stock. Reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the zucchini, broccoli, capsicum and sugar snap peas and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Finish by adding the fish sauce and simmer for 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Divide the rice into two deep bowls and spoon over the curry. Top with the bean sprouts, coriander and red chilli (if using). Sprinkle with the peanuts, pop a lime wedge in each bowl, snap a pic, upload to the gram with #couplegoals #foodporn and devour.
- This green curry paste recipe will make enough paste for 25 curries (I might be exaggerating… it’s more like eight curries). What I like to do is freeze the leftover curry paste in ice-cube trays and then zip them into little plastic bags for a later date (they will keep in the freezer for up to 2 months). Or you can pop them into little jars and gift them to your friends like a psychopath. (Who gives people curry paste? You need to calm down. Just bake them something, like my Strawberry Bread on page 138.)
- If you want, you can swap out the chicken for prawns – I do it all the time. Just cook the curry paste in the coconut oil and ignore the chicken browning step, then pop the prawns into the curry in the last 3 minutes of cooking.
A Gay Guy’s Guide to
Life Love Food by Khanh Ong, Published by Plum, RRP $34.99, Photography by Lauren Bamford.