“I hope somewhere in this book there is a dish or two that you choose to serve to your family. Something that gets asked for again and again, and each time you make it, it becomes a little more your own. Then one day, years from now, when the people you cooked for have left and live their lives and come back to visit, you make that meal for them again. And that’s what makes them feel like they’re home”
Adam Liaw, Adam’s Big Pot
Okay. Now that there’s not a dry eye in the house we’ll talk Tasty Reads.
Our latest theme has been Asian food and I kind of lucked out in that I already owned one of of the book choices, the absolute classic Charmaine Solomon’s Complete Asian Cookbook. But ‘s that’s not what we’re going to talk about today. Because, on high recommendation, I bought Adam’s Big Pot.
For those of you who have not heard of him, Adam Liaw was the winner or runner up or something in Master Chef a few years ago. But you don’t need to know that. What you do need to know is that apart from his annoying man-bun, Adam Liaw is immensely likeable.
I on the other hand am not intensely likeable, in fact I am a contrarian at best and part of my reason for choosing this book was to take it down, It was SO highly recommended I thought there was no way it could live up to the expectations that had been set.
I stand corrected.
This book is AWESOME.
I have not been so excited about a Tasty Reads book since Persiana – only 17 recipes to go after I totally botched the baklava on the weekend. But we’re not here to talk about my cooking disasters.
OK, fine, seeing as you insist. I overcooked the sugar syrup so when I poured it over the pastry it set like toffee so the top of the baklava is tooth breakingly hard and the bottom is, to use some Australian vernacular, as dry as a dead dingo’s donger. My fault entirely, because after cooking the syrup for the requisite amount of time I thought it looked too watery. And because having made Baklava precisely…let me see…never before, I considered myself a bit smarter than the recipe. (Sigh, eyeroll, face palm).
But lets not focus on the bad, let’s talk about why I am excited by this book!
Adam’s Big Pot – Highlights
- This is a very good primer in Asian food, lots of counties are represented – Japan, China, Thailand, Vietnam, India. A great variety without being too daunting.
- There are lots of super photos
- Adam’s descriptions of each recipe are great
- He’s not too prissy – he offers lots of alternatives – eg if you don’t have a master stock handy, use chicken.
- His tips are great
- The book is beautifully presented
- The meals are quick, easy and approachable
- Cooking from this book is like cooking with an old friend. He’s just so damn likeable!
- The food is super delicious. I have only made one thing I didn’t like (see Dishes Made below).
Adam’s Big Pot – Weaknesses
I feel like I’m being super picky here but you know, just so you know this isn’t paid for by Adam or anything (ha! I wish!).
- If you were utterly unfamiliar with Asian cooking and you wanted to try a lot of the recipes in here you may have to buy a lot of ingredients that you may not use again if you did not love the dish and / or they may make you break out into hives (see below).
- I think the Bits and Pieces section which is the very first in the book and contains the recipes for the curry pastes, the stocks and all the other base ingredients would have been better placed at the end of the book.
- No bread! No roti, chapati, naan or paratha! I would have LOVED at least one bread recipe in here!
Adam’s Big Pot – What I’ve Cooked
Carrot and Cumber Som Tam.
So good. This is Adam’s version of my favourite, green papaya salad. Lovely, fragrant, spicy, fresh.
Tuna Takaki Salad.
Tuna, Corn And Avocado Salad
This is on high lunch rotation! I have made it pretty much every week since finding this recipe. The recipe calls for raw corn, I have used tinned and leftover grilled corn. All super.
Chicken and Cashew Nuts
Something in this recipe made me break out into a horrible rash and massive hives. I suspect it was the dark soy sauce because it was the only thing I have not used before. This probably says more about the excitability of my skin than a real flaw with the recipe because the fussiest eater in the world was perfectly fine. He had seconds and took it to work the next day.
Starting with homemade tandoori paste! I was RIDICULOUSLY proud of myself for making this. Who makes their own tandoori paste? Isn’t that what supermarkets are for? But it was so easy to do. I will never buy it again! And you know, seeing as I am Ms Allergic to the World, the more things I can control in my diet the better!
And then the chicken:
Salt and Pepper Squid
I love squid. The Fussiest Eater in the World will, however, not touch it with a ten foot barge pole. So, I quite often make it for one. Adam’s recipe is so quick to cook, it is a great after work meal for one or many! It’s also why I bought rings instead of tubes – easier to control portions. Although there do seem to be quite a lot of rings in the pictures…I really like it.
I also had absolutely no idea that Salt and Pepper Squid was not a thing everywhere.
“You could argue that salt and pepper squid is Australia’s national dish. It’s universally loved and you can buy it in just about any pub, Vietnamese, Thai or Chinese restaurant or Italian café around the country. On top of that, it’s not commonly found in any other country. It’s a truly homegrown favourite”
So, here it is rest of the world. What are you waiting for? Make this tonight. And thank me later!
- 2 litres peanut oil for deep frying
- 500g squid tubes, cleaned (or rings)
- 3 tbsp rice flour or cornflour (cornstarch)
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 bird's eye chilli, thinly sliced
- 2 spring onions, trimmed and sliced
- 1 tsp salt flakes
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Coriander leave, lemon wedges and aioli to serve
- Heat the oil to 200C in a wok or large saucepan.
- Cut down one side of the squid tubes and open them flat. Lightly score the surface in a cross -hatch pattern, cut into bite sized triangles and toss in the flour.
- Shake off excess flour an deep fry the squid din batches ffpr about a minute per batch or until just cooked and lightly golden.
- Drain well.
- Remove the oil, leaving about a tbsp in the wok. Heat the wok over medium heat and add the garlic, chilli and spring onion.
- Toss in the wok for about a minute, or until the ingredients are lightly browned.
- Add the squid and toss constantly scattering with the salt and pepper.
- Remove the squid from the wok, scatter with coriander leaves and serve with lemon wedges and aioli.
I have some of the tandoori paste left so it would be sensible to make the tandoori chicken again. And the naan and the rojak I made from the Charmaine book when I made the tandoori chicken were super and the flavours went really well together.
However, with so many other delicious recipes still left to cook, including:
- Prawn and Grapefruit Salad
- Tom Yum Fried Rice
- Kuku Paka which is an African chicken curry
- Whiting With Nori Butter
- Tiger Skinned Chicken
- Baked Thai Fish Cakes
- Canonigo which is a Filipino desert made from meringue, orange custard and caramel
It’s a pretty hard decision to make. So what do I do? Go for the tried and tested or branch out with something new?
Oh and seeing as I’m asking questions, do you cook asian at home? What is your Asian favourite cuisine? What is your favourite Asian recipe? You know I’m nosy and love to know your business so please leave comments!
Anyhoo, I’ve loved cooking from this book and I’m awarding it Five Golden Rings of Squiddy Delciousness!
Let’s see if the rest of the Tasty Reads team agrees!
Have a great week!