Cookbook 177: Asian After Work

I love Adam Liaw, he has such a beautiful voice, is so passionate about food and the cultures of food, about making food accessible, and sharing in the joy of food. I’d been deciding what book of his to buy for a while, and settled on Asian After Work as something that would be accessible, easy to cook from, and could add some dishes to my repertoire.

This is a good book, particularly if you are not a vegetarian. If you are a vegetarian don’t bother with this book, there are insufficient vegetarian recipes to make it worth your while. I struggled to find recipes that I could make for my vegetarian house mate who is also allergic to capsicum, but we got two in the end.

Overall, I’d give this book 3.5 stars out of 5. The instructions are good, the recipe ideas are not too complicated, and the way the book is broken up into proposed meal plans is a nice touch, for example dishes to cook on Sunday when you might have more time to cook, dishes to cook on a Tuesday when you may not.

Miso Roasted Eggplant (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggplants, cut into 2cm cubes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt, to taste
  • 2 spring onions, thinly sliced, to serve
  • Toasted white and black sesame seeds to serve

Miso dressing:

  • 3 tbsp white or red miso
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp sake
  • 2 tbsp water

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 200C (fan-forced). Toss the eggplant in the olive oil and season with a little salt. Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper and roast for 20 minutes, or until the eggplant is slightly browned.
  2. Meanwhile, mix together the miso dressing ingredients and pour over the roasted eggplant, tossing it on the tray to coat well. Continue to roast for a further 5 – 10 minutes or until the miso sauce starts to caramelise.
  3. Remove the eggplant from the oven, transfer to a serving plate, scatter with spring onions and toasted sesame seeds and serve.

Notes on this recipe:

  • I forgot to garnish mine, but that didn’t distract from the tastiness of this dish. Nice and easy to make and highly recommend.

Cheat’s Claypot (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken thighs, skinless, sliced
  • 2 Chinese sausages (lap cheong), sliced
  • 8 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in 2 cups of hot water, stems removed and sliced (liquid reserved)
  • 6 cups warm, cooked white rice
  • sea salt, to taste
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced spring onions
  • A handful of coriander leaves to serve

Base marinade:

  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Cheong Chan caramel sauce, or dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp Shoxing rice wine
  • 2 tsp grated ginger

Method:

  1. Mix together all the ingredients for the base marinade and marinate the chicken, sausage and mushrooms for about 10 minutes.
  2. Heat 1/2 cup of the reserved shiitake mushroom steeping liquid in a large saucepan or claypot and add the chicken, sausage and mushrooms along with the marinade. Stir over a high heat until the chicken is cooked through. Add the rice and stir until well combined.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes without stirring, until the rice forms a bit of a crust around the edges of the pot. Season with salt and toss through the spring onions. Garnish with coriander and serve with chilli sauce.

Notes on this recipe:

  • This was less flavoursome than I expected and I think that’s probably because I forgot an ingredient. It is really simple to make, and definitely a good way to make a quick hotpot. I’ll try this again at some point.

Kachumber (serves ?)

Ingredients:

  • 1 continental cucumber or 2 Lebanese cucumbers, peeled and deseeded
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, peeled and deseeded
  • 1/2 red onion, peeled
  • 1 bird’s eye chilli, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped mint leaves
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt flakes
  • A pinch of caster sugar

Method:

  1. Cut the cucumber, tomato and onion into a 5mm-square dice and combine in a large bowl. Add the chilli, coriander and mint to the bowl and mix together. Add the remaining ingredients, mix well and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Notes on this recipe:

  • This is a really nice and fresh salad, definitely one to make again in the warmer months.
  • The only thing I’d change about the recipe is to mix the lime juice, cumin, salt and sugar together first before adding to the salad. That way the sugar and salt start to dissolve, and the cumin doesn’t just end up in one bit of the salad.

Mushroom Rice (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 250g mixed fresh Asian mushrooms, such as shiitake, enoke, shimeji or King oyster (eringi)
  • 1 tsp peanut oil, or other vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3 spring onions, white and light green parts, trimmed and sliced diagonally
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 440g uncooked short-grain rice
  • 750ml White chicken stock, or water, or vegetable stock
  • 3 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sake
  • 1 tbsp mirin

Method:

  1. Slice or tear the mushrooms into bite-sized pieces. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over high heat, add the garlic, mushrooms, spring onion and salt and saute until the mushrooms start to soften. Add the rice and mix through.
  2. Add the stock, soy sauce, sake and mirin and bring to the boil. Continue to boil for 5 minutes, uncovered until the water level reduces to the top of the rice mixture. Cover tightly and reduce the heat to very low for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the rice standing, covered, for a further 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the lid and stir the rice with a cutting motion, leaving it uncovered for a further 2 minutes to fluff the rice and drive off excess moisture.

Notes on this recipe:

  • If you love mushrooms, you’ll love this dish. Apparently it was very mushroom flavoured (I don’t like mushrooms that much so didn’t try it).
  • It’s really easy to make and doesn’t take too long.

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