Make This Cheesy, Spicy, 15-Minute Pasta Tonight

In 2019, the writer and chef Lara Lee found herself in the kitchen in a mood. She had just given birth to her son, Jonah, from which she could barely see the motivation to eat a decent meal every night. The book “A Splash of Soy: Everyday Food from Asia” (June 13th, Bloomsbury) tells how she found herself reorientated. “It was about reviving my cooking mojo when I was in early motherhood,” Lee told me about the cookbook. “But this is the way I love to cook now.”

The publication comes three years after the widespread debut of the Sydney-born Lee, “Coconut & Sambal,” which was a tribute to the cuisines of her Chinese-Indonesian roots. In this second effort, she expands her scope to the cooking styles from East as well as Southeast Asia. She goes beyond the cornerstone ingredients of the beaten path of slicking linguine, for instance, with the stunning red gloss of Korean gochujang.

The Sydney kitchen that she’s struggling to adjust to since moving back to Sydney after leaving London in 2021. She discussed her development as a cook and the standbys in her kitchen she relies on the most, particularly in times of danger.

The thing people will notice in my kitchen is that it’s enormous. It also has plenty of storage space. In London, when we were there, we lived in a 2-bed apartment, and the cooking pans would be hidden under beds or in tiny drawers or other random spots. This is no longer the case because everything is now within the kitchen. Everything is well-organized. Everything is in a tidy place.

I became interested in cooking because of my Indonesian grandmother, our host in Sydney. She was a fantastic cook, so the flavors from that portion of my family’s history were deeply ingrained in me. However, I was too young to learn how to cook from her, and she did not instruct me how to cook. When I first moved to London, I discovered that there was no any Indonesian food scene. I was eager to learn how to cook Indonesian food. It became an obsession.

A most-loved book, “Indonesian Food and Cookery,” written by Sri Owen.

My cooking instructor was (London-based Indonesian cooking instructor and food writer Sri Owen. When I cut something the wrong way, she’d not be happy, Lara. It was awe-inspiring being under her vigilance. Every week I’d visit, and we’d cook together. We would still chat via WhatsApp. However, it was tough to let go of her when I had to leave London.

A book I go to over and over is Sri Owen’s “Indonesian Food and Cookery,” one of her very first books. “Sri Owen’s Indonesian Food” is my bible. “The Rice Book,” too. Also, I love Fuchsia’s “Every Grain of Rice.” The chef Jeremy Pang has this incredible YouTube channel as well as a cooking school known as the School of Wok, where I was a teacher. His recipes never disappoint. I adore Yotam Ottolenghi’s “Sweet” cookbook with Helen Goh and Helen Goh, a must-read for baking.

The kitchen appliances I cannot live without include: measuring spoons. Kitchen scales. A mini food processor. Do you want to make an excellent spice paste? In your mini-processor, blast, boom, and boom. A kitchen thermometer since I’ve set a blaze in my kitchen…twice. In my 20s, I was deep-frying crackers of prawns. I can only remember the oil in the pot was ablaze. It was the dumbest thing you could do to run with the bank towards the sink, and I turned on the tap. It could have molded the whole building to death. Another time, I wrote “Coconut & Sambal.” I’m trying to figure out what I was cooking. At that point, the alarm for fire is activated. I glance: The oil pot is on fire. I had a fire blanket, threw it in the flame, grabbed my dog, and summoned the firefighters. Luckily, the blanket put out a pet.

From left to right: various measuring spoons, each essential, and a peek inside the pantry will reveal important spices and cooking oil.

The pantry in my home is filled with kecap manis, dark soy, light, and regular Kikkoman soy. Lee Kum Kee Chiu Chow Chili Oil. Sriracha. Kewpie mayo. Oyster sauce. Rice wine vinegar. Chinkiang black rice vinegar. Coconut oil, sunflower oil, obviously extra-virgin olive oil. Sea salt with a smoky flavor. Red-skin peanuts to make peanut sauce. Sesame seeds are white and black, but I prefer black. There are five-spice, turmeric and ground cumin, coriander, black pepper, and white pepper. Did I say fish sauce? Oh, and plenty of coconut milk.

My fridge is always full of gochujang, tamarind, tom yum, and green curry paste; Mae Ploy and Maesri are also delicious. Sambal hijau, Sambal belacan – I keep about 15 different Sambals in my fridge.

The components I’m the most thrilled about right now are high-quality aromatic pastes that you can purchase from the grocery store. Lemongrass paste, garlic paste, ginger paste. It’s a breeze to work with on any basis. Japanese curry cubes can also be used. Also, tom yum paste, for a tom yum Bloody Mary, tom yum roast chicken, tom yum sweet potato wedges.

One of the most underrated ingredients is microwave rice. I own an instant rice cooker. However, the microwave is in every pantry. For quick Instant Pot butter chicken, why not make use of your rice cooker in the same way? It’s an additional appliance! Microwave rice is good.

Cheesy Kimchi Linguine With Gochujang Butter

If you’re looking for a quick and easy weeknight meal, this recipe is ready in only 15 minutes. It blends the crimson hue and heat of gochujang and kimchi staples, a staple of Korean cooking, along with the umami-rich flavor of seaweed and Parmesan. An egg cooked in oil is the final component of the meal, and you’ll need to break up the runny yolk before mixing it with the pasta.


  • 8 ounces of dried linguine or spaghetti
  • 3/4 cup kimchi that has been roughly chopped
  • Two tablespoons of unsalted butter Cubed
  • 2 Tablespoons and 2 Tbsps of gochujang paste
  • Two teaspoons of soy sauce
  • Two cloves of garlic peeled and crushed
  • Two scallions cut into thin matchsticks
  • One teaspoon of flavorless, unflavored oil like canola
  • Two eggs
  • Acceptable sea salt to taste
  • Two tablespoons of crumbled crisp seaweed (such as seaweed sheets and nori)
  • Lime wedges for serving
  • Two tablespoons of grated Parmesan


  1. Large pan of water at the point of boiling. Then add pasta, and cook according to the package instructions.
  2. While the pasta cooks in a large cold nonstick frying pan, combine kimchi, butter gochujang, soy sauce, garlic, and a quarter of the scallion. (Don’t be concerned about mixing at this point.)
  3. Rinse pasta and reserve 1 cup of pasta water. Put frying pans with the ingredients at a high temperature. Transfer pasta directly to the frying pan. Add two tablespoons of pasta water. Mix everything in until warm and evenly coated, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour into bowls for individual servings.
  4. Cook the eggs. Wash the pan and place it on medium-high heat. Add oil. When the oil shatters, it is time to crack eggs into the pan. Cook until the eggs are cooked and the edges have become crispy about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the whites are cooked but the yolk remains liquid (or cooked, according to your preference). Add the addition of a pinch of salt.
  5. Decorate each pasta bowl with crispy seaweed, the remaining scallions, and fried eggs. Pour a lime wedge on top of each dish. Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan as you serve. Serve it with additional lime wedges.


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