“There is a Confucian proverb, which reads in part ‘wen gu zhi xin', or, in Japanese ‘onko-chisin'. This translates roughly to ‘consider old things to understand new things’. This is the essence of the Two Asian Kitchens.” - Adam Liaw, "Two Asian Kitchens"
The winner of MasterChef 2010, Adam Liaw says he was stunned when the judges finally announced their decision. He received $100,000 in cash, plus the chance to study with some of the country's top chefs. He also received the opportunity to produce his own cookbook. This was “Two Asian Kitchens”.
The two kitchens are ‘The Old Kitchen’ – where you will find hawker noodle dishes, Japanese yakitori, creamy coconut laksa and his own favourite, Hainanese chicken rice. ‘The New Kitchen’ features modern dishes that draw on the memorable flavours and experiences of Adam Liaw’s own life. He does not see the recipes in ‘The New Kitchen’ as Chinese, Japanese or even Asian in general but believes if you have the need to classify them then think of them as Australian food.
“Two Asian Kitchens” is no ordinary cookbook. It is certainly not a ‘coffee table book’, nor, is it a chef’s ‘ready reference’ book – although it could certainly fill that function. It is a highly technical and skillful presentation that is a guide from some of the simplest of Asian dishes to some of the most exotic and more complex dishes. It contributes a whole section to the preparation of an Asian pantry, both ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ where sauce bases, pastes, powdered ingredients and a whole range of necessities for Asian cooking can be prepared and be on hand for use as required. If you do enjoy Asian cooking and are not fortunate to have an Asian grocer or market close by to ‘pop next door’ and buy your pickled chillies then this book is an essential. Adam Liaw devotes considerable care and attention through his writings in this book as to how an Asian chef can have on hand their supply of essential Asian ingredients made in their own kitchen and stored in their Asian ingredients pantry. His ‘Tips and techniques cover a wide range of the mysteries of Asian food preparation – on donburi; on dumplings; on sushi; on tempura; on fruit liquors – and, in my humble opinion, are compulsory reading for those devotees of Asian cuisine who wish to produce good Asian food.
Produced as an Edbury Press book and published by Random House Australia Pty Ltd (2011) “Two Asian Kitchens” is available from most good book stores in Australia. I was fortunate to obtain mine from an Australia Post outlet for $50.00