Adam Liaw Malaysia Kitchen Interview

Adam Liaw Malaysia Kitchen Interview

Adam Liaw Malaysia Kitchen Interview

Interview with Adam Liaw

Question: What does the term 'Malaysian Kitchen' meant to you?

Adam Liaw: 'Malaysia Kitchen' to me is a great name for the program, as food is a passion and a sense of pride for all Malaysians. In essence, you could say that Malaysia itself is one big kitchen, bringing together different ethnic and cultural influences to create a truly delicious and unique cuisine.

Question: What is your favourite Malaysian dish?

Adam Liaw: I love Hainanese Chicken Rice, but it's hard to go past a great Malay satay, cooked over coals and served with the traditional accompaniments.

Question: What is your philosophy when it comes to food and cooking?

Adam Liaw: I think we are all the sum of our experiences when it comes to food, and I think we need to understand that our experiences have a history much older than we are. Our mother, grandmothers and great-grandmothers back centuries all cooked differently and all of those dishes have influenced the way each of us cooks today. I love authentic food, but that doesn't just mean old or traditional dishes. To me a dish is truly authentic when it takes the experiences of the past and brings them forward to the present place and time.

Question: Explain your take on 'Modern Australian' food:

Adam Liaw: Modern Australian food is a term that is thrown around a lot and covers a lot of things, but I don't think it's as meaningless as some people seem to think it is. Australia is developing a very unique cuisine shaped by our great produce, rich migrant history and amazing world-class chefs. Australian chefs and cuisine today are both very strongly influenced by Asia and all of the different ethnicities that make up the Australian population, and in that respect I think it shares a lot of cultural similarities to Malaysian food.

Question: What inspires you to create new dishes?

Adam Liaw: Inspiration can come from anywhere, but for me it's mainly the produce. A really amazing seasonal vegetable or a beautiful piece of meat is really all you need to inspire you.

Question: What annoys you the most, in the kitchen?

Adam Liaw: Rushing! And mess. But they usually go hand in hand. Good preparation and kitchen craft should mean never having to rush to get meals done at home or working in a messy kitchen. Of course, it's not easy and I still find myself rushing, or with a sink full of pots and pans on occasion.

Question: Overall, what is your favourite food cook and serve?

Adam Liaw: It changes all the time, but at the moment coming into winter I'm enjoying a lot of curries and stews. Of course, Malaysian curries are right at the top of the list!

Question: What inspired you to become a chef?

Adam Liaw: A LOT of pressure from friend and family. Everyone I know knows how much I love cooking, and I don't think they would have let me rest until I put an application in.

Question: What advice do you have for young chefs and home cooks?

Adam Liaw: Just get into the kitchen and try. So many of us put barriers up about what we can or can't cook, but the fact is that cooking really isn't very difficult - especially with Asian food. Almost any Asian food is well within the capabilities of the home cook - after all, Asian cuisines have historically been all about the home cook rather than fine dining restaurants.

Question: What are the essential ingredients needed to create the perfect Laksa, this winter?

Adam Liaw: A great laksa paste is of course a must, but people often overlook things like the stock, laksa leaf (Vietnamese mint) or a good sambal belacan - all of which are really necessary for the perfect Malaysian laksa.

Question: Can you tell us a little about your new book and restaurant, what we can expect?

Adam Liaw: My book is called 'Two Asian Kitchens' and it's about a lot of the things we've talked about here. Trying out simple but traditional Asian recipes from Malaysia, Japan, China, Thailand, Vietnam etc. and then making that part of your own home cooking. The restaurant is still a work in progress, but it's a really casual Japanese izakaya serving the type of food that I have loved eating in Japan. Hopefully we can open in Sydney before the end of the year.

Chef Allen Woo from Laksa Me has provided his Laksa Lemak recipe for Malaysia Kitchen

(Serves 2)
100g Rice Vermicelli Noodles (soaked)
40g Bean Sprouts
1 lit Water

Heat water to boiling;
Blanch bean sprouts for 5 seconds, remove and place in a bow
Blanch noodles till soft, drain, remove and place on top of bean sprouts.

Laksa Paste: Wet paste Ingredients
50g Galangal (finely cut)
200g Lemongrass (finely cut)
100g Long red chilli (finely cut)
5g Turmeric Powder
40g Garlic
100g Onion (finely cut)
20g Dried Chilli (soaked)
teaspoon Shrimp paste (Malaysian Blachan)
5 Tablespoons Oil
50g Candlenuts
10g Curry leaves

Blend all of the above to a fine paste,
Heat wok with enough oil to fry Laksa paste over medium heat, stir and cook until a layer of red oil surface,
Add in the following:

Dried paste Ingredients
30g Curry Powder
20g Coriander powder
6 Tablespoons Water

(Note: Mix the above to form a paste.)
Continue to fry until everything well blended, add in stock and seasoning as follow:

Stock and Seasoning Ingredients
2 litre Chicken Stock
1 can Coconut Cream (400ml)
Salt to taste

Gently bring to boil, then remove from stove, filter, discard residue, transfer to a clean pot,
Keep warm in low heat,

Other ingredients:-
Add the following on top of noodles: (each serving)

50g Prawn meat (cooked)
40g (halve Deep Fried Tofu
50g Chicken Breast (boiled then shredded)
50g Fish Cake (sliced)
50g Fish balls
1 Hard-boiled egg (halve)

Pour Laksa Broth on top of noodles, and garnish with the following before serve

20g Spring onion (cut into rings)
30g Mint leaves (leaves only)
A wedge of lemon or lime

Interview by Brooke Hunter