Recipes from Adam’s new book Asian After Work.
Malaysian-born former lawyer Adam Liaw shot to fame when he won the second series of MasterChef. His winning ”Snow Egg” challenge remains one of the most watched non-sport TV events in Australian history. He’s the author of two cookbooks, the latest Asian After Work was launched in September as was the second series of Destination Flavour Japan on SBS ONE which he hosts. He lives in Sydney with his Japanese wife Asami and their newborn son, Christopher.I’m drinking
I have a Hario Pota cold drip coffee filter that fits in the fridge, which is getting a lot of use now the weather is starting to warm. On the boozy side, I’m still working my way through a barrel of Tengumai sake, a wedding gift from the brewery in Ishikawa prefecture. And there’s always Coopers Pale Ale in the beer fridge. I am South Australian, after all.Most memorable meal
Eating at Sukiyabashi Jiro (from the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi; above) is one meal I just can’t stop thinking about. I’ve had so many different emotions about it. It took only about 45 minutes and cost more than $600 for two and when I first came out of the restaurant I just felt shell-shocked, but in the hours and days that followed, all of the nuances and intricacies of the meal started to sink in. Every piece of sushi was served at a different temperature; the sea urchin for example was served at four degrees, the temperature at the bottom of the ocean where it’s from. Even more than two years later I still think about it. I can’t wait to go back.My toolkit
I take more of a classical approach when it comes to cooking tools. Some simple, classic, good quality cooking equipment makes time spent in the kitchen an absolute joy, and you don’t need a lot. In winter my Le Creuset French oven barely makes it off the stove. A good carbon steel wok, a strong bamboo steamer and some nice copper pots will cover you for almost any dish. There are a few indulgences too; my favourite knife is an Akitada blue steel gyuto that was made especially for me by a fifth-generation blademaster in Osaka. The infra-red thermometer is great. I use it all the time, especially for checking the temperature of oil for deep-frying. You just point it at your target and get a surface temperature reading. I can’t believe more kitchens don’t have them. My father got this online for me and it was less than $20.The staples
My pantry Fish sauce, two kinds – I use Megachef for Thai and Three Crabs for Vietnamese; umami sauce – it’s my own soy sauce blend that I age myself. Maldon salt and, for my umami sauce some good honey – Leatherwood from Tasmania or Ligurian from Kangaroo Island.
My fridge XO sauce – I make my own, it’s much easier than you think. Some good quality miso; Kewpie mayonnaise; and I have a freezer full of different varieties of chillies that I grow myself. The habaneros have the most amazing flavour but sometimes the heat is just too much to bear.I’m cooking
Last dinner at home It was actually a simple Japanese pork and miso soup called tonjiru. It’s really easy to make but has a wonderful depth of flavour.Favourite
A painting of tomatoes my mother gave me that always hangs in my kitchen. A kitchen needs to be a beautiful space as well as a functional one.Food discovery
Ageing umami. I picked this up from my recent travels filming Destination Flavour Japan. I met a guy who was trying to age kombu (kelp) for 100 years, and so many of the restaurants we went to were ageing umami-rich ingredients to get more complex flavours. I’ve started making and ageing my own “umami sauce” (a mix of soy sauce, sake and a bunch of other umami-rich ingredients) and it’s producing some extraordinary flavours. I use it in place of soy sauce for just about everything.Kitchen highlight
I like having an extra-wide oven so I can fit three roast chickens on just one tray. And the oversized bench is great. People can sit around it and it’s like our own sushi bar.Inspiration
I think travelling is the best inspiration. Whether it’s overseas or local, near or far, trying something new and seeing how someone else thinks about food always gets the creative gears turning.Secret vice
I do love Japanese fried chicken with Kewpie mayonnaise and I do make it a lot more often than I should. But it’s not really a secret!
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.