Thomas Bywater asks guest chefs to prepare their best one-pot dishes that you can cook anywhere
A backyard barbecue might seem an appealing way to add a little escapism to your meals.
But, faced with another weekend at home, your sausages might no longer cut the mustard.
Fabian Low is the man to help. He specialises in inspiring, healthy recipes you can cook anywhere. Backyards, no exception.
Fabian makes friends as easily and readily as he makes noodles.
Cooking out of a tent at music festivals or while hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, he shares his food and cooking tips with almost everyone he meets. His recipe for one-pot dry Thai noodles is a favourite.
"Funnily enough if you just add garlic and onions to your pan, people appear saying: 'something smells good'!"
Indoors or out, Low's cooking has always been about self sufficiency. Moving to Christchurch as a teenager he longed for familiar flavours.
The Garden City was a wilderness for Asian food or the recipes he knew growing up in Singapore, "not anything I'd call home-style cooking". He quickly had to learn to cook for himself.
However, his biggest test came with the opportunity to cook in the United States.
Working with a company that catered for festivals and events, he was preparing meals in the harshest of environments. There aren't many harsher than the Nevada Desert.
In 2015, he was on a catering team for 300 artists at the Burning Man festival in Black Rock.
"No one goes as a spectator and you go there with the expectation of contributing something."
His contribution had to be carefully planned. They couldn't just go and restock if they were running low. The nearest town was two hours' drive and entering the camp was "like clearing border security".
"We had to load up our stuff on a truck, set up the kitchen,everything and get it working with water, sewage, black water, and rubbish."
Essentially, they built a kitchen in the desert.
More impressive was it had to disappear by the end of the week.
Not so much as an onion peel could be left behind. Vacuum cleaning spilt flour from the desert floor might sound like the definition of futility but for Low it was important to do.
"It's such a beautiful place in nature. Whatever we bring in, we have to be responsible for it," he said.
"To have all that nourishing food when you are literally out in the middle of the desert, with amazing scenery, it was just a memory that was really worth having."
If you can cook in the Black Rock Desert, you can cook anywhere.
Back in Auckland, Low runs cooking lessons from feastlikeasage.com.
Teaching classes and cooking for groups, he specialises in remote catering. A self-declared "practical nutritionist", Fabian is offering a dial-a-recipe service via his website.
These are challenging times for anyone who loves cooking for groups or hiking outdoors. However, Fabian is philosophical.
"Part of the charm of Burning Man is putting yourself in a really challenging environment to see how far you can be pushed.
"It's what we need for the human psyche - to challenge ourselves in our jobs, our lives, our family environment."
Top foodie destination
My go-to place is where I grew up, in Singapore.
This dish is inspired by that region. It's an amalgamation of no less than four cultures that live there - Thai, Malaysian and Singaporean influences. You get a lot of mixtures that happen naturally in the local cuisine and produce."
Never leave without
Every cook has their favourite tool in the kitchen, for me it's my cleaver.
You can use it to finely chop, slice, or even to deal with tougher vegetables like kumara and pumpkin. It's just so versatile, I love it."
One-wok Dry Thai Noodles
A simple recipe that can be cooked in a single pot and scaled up to feed a campsite.
The Thai rice noodles are prepared in three parts; preparing your broth, soaking noodles and seasoning. The recipe is extremely portable and works best with dried rice noodles – although there's space for variation. This Thai inspired recipe has a rich smokey base complimented by zingy tamarind and lemons.
Red rice vermicelli - 1 packet
Red onion - 1 large (finely diced)
Garlic - 5 cloves (finely chopped)
Minced lemongrass - 3 tbsp
Kaffir lime leaves - 6-8 leaves
Tom yum paste - 2 tbsp
Rice bran oil - 4 tbsp
Lemon/lime - 2 tbsp
Tamarind paste - 2 tbsp
Tomato paste - 1 small can
Smoked paprika - 1 tbsp
Tofu puffs - 1 packet
Chives - 1 bunch
Fried shallots - 1 cup
Boiling water - 4 cups
On a mild heat, fry the onions, garlic, kaffir lime and lemon grass in oil.
Once onions are soft, add Tom Yum paste, stir.
Add boiling water to create a broth, add tamarind and tomato paste.
Season with paprika.
After soaking your vermicelli noodles in cold water for 10 minutes, add to the broth with the tofu puffs.
Stir and let reduce until the noodles have absorbed the sauce.
Cover with the fresh chives, shallots and add the juice of one lemon.
Let steam, and serve hot!