My life in food: Ed Gamble on Nando's, Korean cuisine and the perfect lasagne
The comedian and co-host of the Off Menu podcast talks his favourite cuisines and childhood dishes.
I decided as a child that I was going to be the kid that ate everything. I was really interested in food and wanted to try new things. Once, at a wedding, there was a kids’ table with beige foods like oven chips, fish fingers, onion rings etc. I actively shunned all that. There was a big argument as to whether I could get something from the adult table. I won and I ate poached salmon. That’s how much of a posh ‘gourmando’ I was as a seven-year-old.
Delia was a big part of my childhood, and so were the recipes in Good Housekeeping magazine. My mum’s a really good cook, and there was one recipe from there we’d make every week — a dish with egg noodles, chicken breast, coconut milk, spring onions and curry paste. I still make it now because it takes me back to feeling safe, warm and comforted at home.
My lasagne is the densest, cheesiest meat cake you’ve ever seen in your life. It’s my wife’s favourite thing that I cook. I throw out the recipe and somehow make it eight times unhealthier. I add cheese to every layer — there will be cheese in the bechamel, which I don’t think is supposed to be in there, like cheddar. I’ll go to town and put parma ham in it, too. It’s delicious, but you can only have a small square of it otherwise your heart will combust.
If I get food delivered before a show, it’s almost always a Nando’s. That’s until my support act and tour manager, five days in, go, “Ed, we’ve got to have something other than a Nando’s, we’re going mad!” It’s normally either a half or quarter chicken, depending on how hungry I am, and then the grains and broccoli. I try to keep it light because I have to run around on stage for an hour and a half.
You’d be hard pushed to find a bad meal in Tokyo. I’ve been once and we ate like kings. Every meal we had was fantastic. It’s like the city is in layers — it’s just a brilliant ramen restaurant stacked on top of a brilliant gyoza restaurant stacked on top of an amazing sushi place. It was probably the best food city I’ve been to — there were no misses.
If there’s brain, heart or anything like that on a menu, I’ll always have it. I think I’m quite an adventurous eater, and I’ll eat any sort of offal, just to give it a go. I’ve eaten head cheese before as well — it’s like a pâté made with all the bits they scrape off a scalp.
I love everything about Korean food, the entire flavour profile. Gochujang, fermented chilli paste, is just totally addictive. I also love Korean fried chicken and a pancake thing called kimchi jeon. It’s batter and kimchi and really well fried.
I love American barbecue and any slow-cooked meat — that’s my jam. It’s a real skill. I’ve tried to do similar things here, and they’ve worked out OK, but there are guys [in the States] that have been doing it for 60 years. You see these shacks that are full of smoke, the flavour that the wood gives the meat and the way it falls apart… it’s just delicious. I’d love to eat my way around the Deep South one day.
We’ve always tried to get Kathy Burke on Off Menu; I think she’s the ultimate national treasure. She’s absolutely awesome and so funny. She’s the sort of personality who works well on podcasts because she speaks her mind. We must get her one day. Her and The Rock, he’s insane. He’s obviously extremely healthy, but he posts about these cheat days every week that seem to be a bottle of tequila and about 80kg of sushi.
For tickets to Ed Gamble’s stand-up show, Electric, head to edgamble.co.uk
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