Book review: Two Asian Kitchens by Adam Liaw


Two Asian Kitchens is the first cookbook written by Adam Liaw, who was Australia’s MasterChef winner for 2010. It covers dishes from Japan, Malaysia, China, and Thailand, reflecting his heritage and where he has lived.

The book is divided into four clear sections. The first section is the Pantry, which includes recipes for basic Asian style sauces, stock and pastes. The second section is techniques, which includes detailed instructions on making donburi, dumplings, sushi, stir-frying, fruit liquours and tempura.

The bulk of the book then breaks into traditional recipes for the Old Kitchen, and more modern fusion style recipes in the New Kitchen. Nearly every recipe has a full page colour illustration. The Old Kitchen section includes recipes for Hainanese Chicken rice; Yakitori moriawase; Katsudon; Char Siew pork neck; and Lemon Chicken. The New Kichen will tempt you with recipes for Laksa fried chicken; Rum and lemongrass roast pork belly; Green tea and pea corquettes; Farmers Union iced coffee pudding with tea smoked chocolate and five spice tenkasu.

The highlight of the book is the awe-inspiring  and imaginative Seven Lucky Gods (Shichifukujin), which drew generous commendations from the MasterChef judges. It is a collection of skewers where each one represents a specific Japanese god and their attributes and influences.

We cooked two dishes from the book – an authentic aromatic Pho soup; and deliciously naughty but nice Fennel and black pepper pork belly with pork condiment.The first was time consuming but worthwhile, the second I got lost in the instructions but it still tasted divine.

You may need access to a specialist Asian grocery store to source some of the ingredients.

Two Asian Kitchens Рbuy on
Two Asian Kitchens – buy on
– by Adam Liaw

Winning rum balls recipe


Here is my top-secret recipe for winning work’s rum ball competition. There’s no coconut, condensed milk, Weetbix or biscuits. It’s not something to eat all time, but an easy one for a work night.

I’ve used a store-bought cake to cut down on the preparation time and I’ve tried a number of different varieties – plain cake with jam works well, so does the chocolate version (see photo) for a double dose of chocolate. I did scrap the mock cream off though. If the mixture is a little damp leave it for 10 minutes or so for the chocolate to harden up a little. Roll in coconut at the end if you wish.

These are rich, decadent and moist.

Winning rum balls recipe

500g swiss roll or Madeira cake
150g dark cooking chocolate
25ml rum

  1. Crumb the prepared cake in a large glass bowl.
  2. Melt chocolate as per instructions on packet.
  3. Mix the melting chocolate into the cake mix, then mix in the rum. Keep mixing until well combined.
  4. Scoop out and roll into balls. Place on a tray or container lined with baking paper.

Keep in the fridge, especially during summer.