Flavours of The Pacific

Peter Kuruvita wowed us with his culinary adventures around Sri Lanka, Indonesia and the Phillippines in Pacific Island Feasts. We caught up with him to find out how to bring a touch of sunshine to the UK with some of his recipes. Here are Peter’s top tips:

Flavours of The Pacific

Part of the fun is exploring new ingredients, Asian supermarkets are like a brand new world of discoveries where you'll find cassava, ghee, annatto oil, tamarind, palm sugar and mace but don't worry if you can't find these, you can use replacements, instead of cassava try sweet potato, can't find annatto oil? Don't worry - the oil is used for its red colouring so normal oil works too, if a recipe needs tamarind you can use lime juice to get the same acidic quality and dark sugar will work just as well as palm sugar.

It is important to have some key ingredients at home to add flavour to any meal, for me salt is a must-have and worthwhile investing in a good quality sea salt if you can, citrus adds life to other ingredients, spices such as cumin, coriander, turmeric and chilli are a good base, garlic, onion and ginger add flavour while fresh coriander is a great compliment to all Asian cuisine.

The best meat to absorb strong flavours is white fish like turbot or cod as they keep their own strong flavour too and chicken thigh fillets, as they are moister, more tender and have so much flavour of their own too. It's also good to unearth new cuts of meat like hanger steak which is lean and full of flavour yet so underrated in the UK. You can ask your butcher or fishmonger about the best cuts and not just the popular ones that everyone else uses.

To get the best flavour out of your recipes you should have a balance between ingredients - add spice for sweetness, bring life to the dish with fat, cut the fat with the acid from lemons or limes, bring flavour with chilli, enhance flavour and bring everything together with salt. A lot of my recipes follow this mantra, like my pork belly skewers made with garlic, onion, sugar, soy and lemonade.

A lot of people have misconceptions about Sri Lankan food that it is fatty but for me there is no comparison to it. Food is a way of life for Sri Lankans, it's not about filling the stomach it's about enhancing the soul, there are lots of vegetable-based dishes that use little or no oil as you can still get all the flavour from the curry flavours, my Dal soup is a perfect example of this.

If you're short of time or want something quickly try a stir-fry, with my devilled beef, you have 10 minutes to prepare the veggies and meat and 15 minutes to cook in a very hot pan. It's a simple dinner that doesn't lack flavour and will fill you up too.