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Tips, tricks and recipes to heatwave-proof your cooking

When it’s way too hot to slave over a stove – don’t. Follow my tips for feeding the fam without losing your over-heated mind.

Tips, tricks and recipes to heatwave-proof your cooking

My friends! It’s hot out there; how’s everyone coping? Having lived in Bangkok for years, I know firsthand how incessant heat can be a punish, although I also get that the current heatwaves around the world are on a whole other level. But watching the ways Thai people coped with blazing hot days gave me useful strategies for dealing with super-high temperatures when I wasn’t necessarily used to them. And I thought sharing these might be useful.

Batten down the hatches and don’t go out

If you’ve ever travelled anywhere that’s routinely hot, you’ll notice that in the middle of a blistering day, locals aren’t really out and about. They stay indoors, only venturing outdoors in the evening when the temps are cooler. 

If they do need to leave their air-con during the day, they wear cool, loose-fitting clothes, slow down their walking pace, are constantly tanking up on icy drinks, and will even use a parasol to shield the sun. It all helps.

Make the fridge and freezer work, but not too hard…

marion grasby smiling in front of an open french door fridgeThen there are strategies around food and food storage. Clear out your fridge and don’t clutter it with non-essentials; you’ll be needing the space! And try not to open the door of your fridge or freezer more than you absolutely need to as these appliances can struggle in hot weather too, especially if they are stuffed full with not much air circulating. 

Stocking up on ice cream, popsicles, frozen yogurt and fruits (melon, grapes, berries, banana for example), ice and chilled drinks are a no-brainer; iced tea is particularly refreshing. Plus, it’s something you can make in bulk so there’s plenty on hand – I like infusing mine with refreshing flavors, using scrunched makrut lime leaves, bruised lemongrass and slices of fresh ginger. With palm sugar as the sweetener. So good!

 

Spicy foods, small portions and grazing

overhead shot of king prawns in a dish on a wooden deck background, with chillies, peanuts and herbs.Really hot weather kills your appetite so you want to prepare dishes that stimulate it; all that heat is so energy-sapping. Spicy foods get your juices going when you start to flag, plus they make you sweat which is the body’s way to naturally cool off.

Grazing is also a good approach to hot weather eating during a heatwave – who honestly feels like sitting down to a full, big meal? Or cooking it? Nope! Sandwiches, chilled soups, salads and dips with a select few accompaniments are all winners when the mercury’s off the dial, and will save your food-prepping life. I promise. I also like a platter of fresh prawns, accompanied by a spicy dipping sauce and fresh papaya salad. Think – easy to make, yummy to eat, and dishes everyone will 💙 you for.

 

Cook, but don’t cook. If you get my drift

plate of lettuce cups topped with papaya salad and prawns as picnic food to eat in a heatwaveI try to avoid cooking dishes that need the oven when it’s hot. If you can bear to, head outdoors and use the barbecue for something fast and furious. Otherwise grill in the kitchen with the extraction fan cranked to max. Techniques like poaching, steaming, blanching, char-grilling, pan-frying or stir-frying are good ways to cook meats and vegetables, depending on what they are. I find it generally better to avoid cooking larger cuts of meat, sticking with smaller pieces that are done in a really short time. 

I also tend to serve loads of salads, using veggies that don’t require much work. Think: cabbage, rocket, spinach, tomatoes, lettuce, avos, fennel, kale, radishes; the kind of things that just need shredding or slicing, with a tasty dressing or drizzling sauce, to make an entire meal. I’ll even break out a good packet salad mix and zhuzh it up. Boiled eggs, purchased, cooked meats, smoked or canned fish, or a selection of charcuterie, cheeses and breads, all elevate a salad to make a totally effortless feast.

 

Food in a heatwave: my faves

When the temperature’s rising, here are my heatwave heroes.

Gado Gado

Gado Gado

Prep all the individual crispy, saucy and cooked components, then slam them down family-style. It’s too hot to fuss. They’ll love it anyway.

Drunken Chicken

Drunken Chicken

Cook a whole bird without the oven! Genius. Cool, succulent and fragrant, just add rice and greens for the perfect heatwave dinner.

Vietnamese-style Cold Rolls

Vietnamese-style Cold Rolls

Whip up plenty of dipping sauce and fillings ahead of time, then wrap ’n’ roll as the mood – and energy-levels – strikes.

Mayak Eggs (Korean Marinated Eggs)

Mayak Eggs (Korean Marinated Eggs)

When you want an egg, but you want a good egg, it’s soft, jammy, chilled Korean marinated eggs for the win. Ooh that marinade!

Thai Salmon Noodle Salad

Thai Salmon Noodle Salad

Fast prep and a speedy cook are your BFF in this weather. And this salad delivers. It’s zingy, reviving, spicy heaven-on-a-plate.

Mum’s Nahm Jim Seafood Sauce

Mum’s Nahm Jim Seafood Sauce

Peel a pile of cooked shrimp, mix a quick leafy salad, steam rice, then serve with Mum’s mind-blowing sauce. Perfect.

Chilli Crisp Ice Cream Sundae

Chilli Crisp Ice Cream Sundae

Tell that heatwave where to go with this inspired creamy-cold-chilli combo; it went viral for a reason!

No-churn Coconut Ice Cream Pops

No-churn Coconut Ice Cream Pops

4 ingredients… no machine required… prepped in 5. FIVE! A child can make these, they’re so simple. What more could you want?

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