Now, you can get to know the lawyer-turned-celebrity chef, Adam Liaw, through the pages of his first cookbook, Two Asian Kitchens.
Coming from a very diverse background and mixed heritage, this Penang-born chef has traversed a good portion of Asia and through this book he transmits his culinary experiences. This cookbook is a platter of delights from what Adam Liaw calls his Old and New Kitchen. He introduces the essence of Two Asian Kitchens through a Confucian proverb that reads ‘consider old things to understand new things’. In this context, his Old Kitchen represents the traditional food he grew up with and the New Kitchen represents the modern food born through creativity and innovation.
Written in a manner that is centered on his audiences’ understanding, there are simple notes, short introductions and/or suggestions with the recipes so readers can make heads or tails out of what they’re reading. The book is also divided into four sections starting with Pantry for the pre-made ingredients followed by On Techniques for the necessary skills and preparations before moving into the recipes from the Old and New Kitchens.
The recipes that you can find in here are a combination of dishes from Malaysia, Japan, Thailand and China. The Old Kitchen provides classics such as Hainanese Chicken Rice, Prawn Sambal, Beef Rendang, Belacan Kangkung and the dish he often demonstrates during live shows, the Seafood Char Kuey Teow. All the recipes in the Old Kitchen reflect the cultural upbringing that he experienced from his past with the inclusion of traditional recipes from his own family. As for the New Kitchen, Adam Liaw encourages his readers to explore new territories and face challenges in making new and exciting concoctions in the kitchen as he has done himself. Interesting fusion dishes are in this portion of the book to help spark your bold side. Highlights include Laksa Fried Chicken where Adam Liaw takes two of his favorite dishes in the world, Laksa and Fried Chicken, and then went off to make their lovechild. Then we have the Ninety-second Greens, a healthy and hassle-free spinach dish to help you with your intake of antioxidants without losing hours in the kitchen to make. If you want all your food groups in one, then do try the ‘Royal Chicken’ with Spinach and Garlic Rice on page 174.
Be sure to not overlook the desserts towards the end of the book. The Asian ingredients used to make these mouth-watering sweets can indeed provide a sugar fix especially the Red Bean fudge and the tropical flavors of the Mango Sun Pies with Sunscreen Ice Cream – with a name like that, who can say they don’t want a spoonful?
The photography in the book is soothing to the eye and gives off a rather cooling effect. You get to see how tantalizing the outcomes of the recipes are without being intimidated. The visual glossary is also nice to look at too and easy to comprehend. Never seen a Lap Cheong (Chinese sausage) before? Or have no idea what a tamarind pulp is? These pages can certainly enlighten you.
Adam Liaw has inserted plenty of intriguing recipes to peruse through and occupy you for a good period of time. Whether you’re a fan of Masterchef or not, it doesn’t really matter. But if you’re a fan of Asian food, this book certainly counts as a worthy investment.