1) Tell us what you do!

I am a freelance journalist and Contributing Editor at Monocle Magazine. I write features about people, food and design but have spent the last two years working on my first fiction novel, a love triangle thriller about a half-Japanese hostess, a British drag queen and a Japanese pop star called Tai that is set in underground nocturnal Tokyo.

2) What do you always have in your pantry for knocking up a quick meal?

I always have Al Taj Tahini, soy sauce, mirin, fish sauce and any brand of Korean sesame oils which always have the nuttiest, deepest flavours.

3) Do you have a favourite secret ingredient or cooking tip that you could share with us?

It would have to be my LA potter friend Poppy Shibamoto’s umami bomb oil. You fry minced garlic, ginger, spring onion and shiitake in walnut oil on a low heat and then add sesame seeds or walnuts and put it in a sterilised jar in the fridge. I use it as a base for making Chinese fried rice and stir-fries or in Japanese ramen noodle soups to lift the dish and add punch.

“Because I have two small children, in the first two months of lockdown I put a lot of effort into cooking to try and make mealtimes fun…”

Alicia Kirby

4) Do you use miso in your cooking? If so, how do you use it?

Being half-Japanese, I use it alot. In Japan, we simmer mackerel in miso a dishe called miso-ni, but because the salmon in the UK is much fattier than Japanese salmon, it lends itself beautifully to this dish. I simmer the salmon in mirin, sugar and miso with matchsticks of ginger. I also often use miso to make a dressing by mixing miso with dashi power, tahini or peanut butter and sugar or agave and serve with steamed green beans. White miso is something I sometimes mix with mirin and marinade fish or even steak in for two days for a sweet deep flavour.

5) Has your cooking changed during lockdown? What are you making that’s different?

Because I have two small children, in the first two months of lockdown I put a lot of effort into cooking to try and make mealtimes fun and for something to do but I also ate a lot of unhealthy comfort food in lockdown, cheese toasties, deep fried tonkatsu sandwiches and baked biscuits and cupcakes with the kids a lot. When lockdown eased and we were allowed to go out more to the park, I gave up slightly and we’ve been eating similar pasta dishes on repeat.

6) Tell us something you recently made and how you made it.

Recently I sautéed chopped mushrooms in a miso butter that I made. You just cook the mushrooms in butter and then add the miso and sugar that you should ideally dissolve before you add them to the pan. Miso and sugar burn easily so you have to watch the stove for that and keep it at a low heat. Miso butter also goes brilliantly with steak.

7) Which restaurant do you miss the most?

I miss Koya Bar where the kitchen is run by the brilliant Shuko Oda and all the udon noodles are hand made. She kindly let me do a stint there as a commis chef a couple of years ago which was a brilliant experience in a warm and friendly kitchen. I also miss Lanzhou Lamian Noodle bar, an unassuming chinese place that’s open until the small hours where I have enjoyed many a late night chilli noodle meal.
Find out more about Alicia on her website www.aliciakirby.com and follow her on Instagram @akaliciakirby and @meal_on_a_plate