Cooking the Books…


Inspired by my friend Mel over at The Cooks Notebook, I’ve taken on the challenge to cook from as many of my cookbooks this year as I can.

What came out of the books and onto the table this week?

Tuesday 7 January

The Book:

Asian After Work, by Adam Liaw

This was a Christmas present from a very dear friend, and is quickly becoming a new favourite.

The recipe: Teriyaki Chicken p 92

My family loves teriyaki chicken, and normally we make Callum Hann’s (another Masterchef finalist) version. With me avoiding sugar as far as possible, we’ve also been avoiding store bought teriyaki sauces.

This one is a tad lighter, equally as straight forward, and also seriously tasty.

I made up a large batch of the teriyaki sauce, adjusting the amount of honey and sugar to suit our palate and my dietary requirements (although strictly speaking, I shouldn’t be having any…don’t judge me).

What else? I fried some onion slices off before cooking the chicken, and added grated ginger to the sauce.

To do ahead:

Make up a large batch of the sauce in advance. It keeps well.

My Tip:

Have your rice and any other accompaniments ready to go, because this will be on the table in about 15 minutes- and that includes prep time.

The verdict:

This is a keeper…and perfect for mid week, after dinner rushes.

Thursday 9 January

The Book:

Asian After Work, by Adam Liaw

The recipe: Beef Bulgogi p 166

How the book suggests it looks
How the book suggests it looks

This is another meal where if you plan ahead, you can have on the table in the time it takes you to boil some rice, rip off some lettuce leaves, and slap around some beef on a barbecue.

The only changes I made to the recipe were again to reduce the honey and sugar- although you do need some to get that gorgeous caramelisation happening- and to add some birds eye chillis to the marinade.

We ate it like a Korean san choy bau.

To do ahead:

Marinade the beef for at least an hour- preferably longer.

My Tip:

Chill the beef in the freezer for a couple of hours before you need it- it will make it super easy to slice seriously thin.

The verdict:

Another keeper.

how we served it
how we served it

Friday 10 January

Friday nights are difficult in our house- Miss 15 has swimming club…which means that one of us needs to be at the pool, while the other has to prepare something that can be quickly put together in 5 minutes flat.

Sure there’s always a sausage sizzle happening down there, but we like to put a fullstop under the working week with a meal out or something that marks the end of the drudgery- and a couple of hours spent in a crowded, noisy, inside pool really doesn’t fulfil that brief…Anyways, she came home with three PBs, so all is good.

The Book:


It Tastes Better, by Kylie Kwong

The recipe: White Cut Chicken p25

Miss 15 chose this book because it had a chook on the side and a dog on the front. Whatever. All I know is it’s a great read.

I love Kylie’s organic and sustainable ethos…I also like her food.

Now, I’ve cooked White Cut Chicken before. It’s similar to Hainanese Chicken, but also ever so slightly different. Essentially, many of the accompaniments are the same.

What is it? Chicken poached gently in a master stock.

The chicken is gently placed into the simmering stock and left for exactly 14 minutes. During this time the stock should be barely moving, ie just below the simmering point. The lid is then placed on the pot and the chicken left for three hours to complete the cooking process. It then needs to be cooled.

My chicken was a little heavier than the 1.6kg bird Kylie used in her recipe, so I ignored the 14 minute direction, and poached it instead for about 25 minutes. Even so, at the end of the three hours, it wasn’t cooked through, with the thighs really quite pink still.

So, into the pot again it went. This time when it came out it was cooked, but it hadn’t had the required cooling and resting time, so the result was ok, but not great.

We served it with a little rice left over from the night before, a cucumber salad, and ginger and shallot, and chilli dipping sauces.

To do ahead:

The master stock needs to be prepared earlier, and the chicken needs three hours in the pot, plus time to cool.

My Tip:

I keep a master stock in the freezer. Just makes sure that you strain and skim it carefully before freezing, and bring it to the boil before re-using.

The verdict:

I had problems with the timing on this one, and will be sticking to the tried and trusted recipe I usually use.




Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

6 thoughts

  1. They all look FANTASTIC! I’m also a big Kylie Kwong fan but don’t have that one. I might have to add that Adam Liaw book to my list – there are some very talented Masterchef peeps out there.

    I like your Friday night habit – I normally make a big effort on a Sunday night, and Friday is usually homemade pizza or something equally easy. I’m having a bit of a cookup tonight so I don’t have to do so much during the week, but I’ll probably want something else by Tuesday!

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