Asian After Work by Adam Liaw Cookbook Review with Dragon Wings Recipe Book Review by Kat Ngoi
One of the most practical and useable good cookbooks I love (other than Two Asian Kitchens) has to be the other Adam Liaw one, Asian After Work—Simple Food For Everyday. Like Adam wrote, cooking for ourselves shouldn’t be a chore when we recognise that getting more organised is all to it.
The pile of dirty dishes in the sink, cleaning up the kitchen and falling into a heap of exhaustion should never put you off cooking at home again if only people would understand that cooking, prep work and cleaning should be separated into discrete tasks that you have to somehow plan better and practice making seamless. They all become ‘a no-brainer’ when you wash as you go (cleaning cutting boards, mixing bowls, knives, pots and pans), leaving only dirty dishes that can easily be rinsed and lined up in the dishwasher to go after your meal.
As for prep work, jars of homemade sauces at an otherwise idle time over your weekend could be handy in your fridge for the rest of the week for a quick healthy homemade dinner. Nothing about home cooking should ever feel like a chore—hence, go with Adam’s mantra, ‘Prep when you have time and cook only when you need to’.
Aside from his signature (and interesting) Japanese nuances, there’s even Korean and Malaysian well-loved traditional classics amongst many other Asian dishes you can find served in Australia peppered throughout the book. Adam Liaw has cleverly curated a good repertoire of easy Asian menus versatile enough to suit anyone from ‘the dinner at home cook’ to the ‘dinner party entertainer home chef’. In terms of other Asian regions, he takes us sans plane ride to the street food of Bangkok, the rustic landscapes and fresh flavours of Vietnam, nudges us to savour classic favourites like Sang Choy Bao and sweet and sour pork (I imagine myself sitting beneath dimly-lit chinoiserie lanterns)tossed out from the smoky, fiery sizzling woks of Chinese kitchens).
I love that the dishes in Asian After Work are an extension of some of the ‘staples’ I cook all the time so that it gives me a chance to substitute different ingredients using similar techniques for a completely evolved, new taste with familiar old faves like Crystal Prawns with Celery, Black Pepper Beef, Soy Dressed Toufu, Crab Lettuce Fried Rice, Penang Achar and different ways with Chicken Wings like Nagoya Chicken Wings, Dragon Wings and Fried Chicken ‘Kara Age’.
Most of Adam’s recipes in the book are great as ‘stand alone meals’ but all which are versatile enough to serve as a combination of dishes to beautifully execute a homely Asian banquet for get-togethers with friends and family. Many of them are imaginative, surprising creations that are a twist on the old classics of our beloved Asian flavours.
He made, for instance, a formidable-looking ‘Mille-Feuille’ With Chillli Ponzu which rather resembles an astonishing lasagne-like stack made with pork belly, chinese cabbage (wombok) with mirin stewed in a casserole dish. Don’t you be fooled by its French-ness! It’s anything, but. In fact, he claims it is a popular Japanese dish he enjoys at least once a week in the winter months!
Speaking of winter, am I relieved to see the last of what the media dubbed as ‘Antartica Vortex’ in Southeast Australia. Time for some comfort food other than stews and soups!
At our own home in Brisbane, cooking homemade meals are very much on a ‘need to’ basis. With a pair of energetic and growing school-aged kids coupled with their hungry-as-hippo dad, a lot of my cooking is ‘done’ in the first quarter of my week, leaving my weekend free for rest and relaxation, and often, eating out for a change! On Sunday afternoons and on the first few days of my week I do lots of prep work ahead, seasoning meats ready to go into the oven, pan, steamer or pressure cooker, including cooking and processing sauces and condiments for the menus I have planned ahead.
It’s for this reason that I’ve selected the following recipe of grilled chicken wings as part of my series of review and ‘cook the book’ exercises. This is a great recipe to plan and make ahead for the ‘Asian After Work’on a week day evening! I’m personalising a recipe from out of the book, to my own preferences simply to make it my own. You grow with your cooking—keep experimenting and surprising yourself with your own additions that you know work and even those you’re not completely sure will!
Instead of his avocado dip, I’ve supplied my own recipe of homemade Tzatziki made with natural yoghurt. I also prefer seasoning all my meats before cooking for added flavour. You’ll find that there are several additions that have been entirely my own personalisation of Adam’s delicious Dragon Wings—these are denoted in *.
May you enjoy this wonderful recipe of piquant spicy wings that is a huge crowd pleaser. Convenient and easy to whip up, it’s the ideal quick feed once you have the sauce made in advance and refrigerated, and your chicken already seasoned overnight ahead of time. At our home it’s always our favourite accompaniment to homemade pizza, lasagne or a rack of sticky beef ribs with smokey BBQ sauce when we’re feeling like something to substitute buffalo wings!
A recipe adapted from Adam Liaw’s Dragon Wings
Dragon Wings with Homemade Tzatziki Dip
1.5 kg chicken wings (12-15 wings); drummettes & wings only
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp salt
1 TB vegetable oil
*Seasoning Marinade for wings:
1 TB chicken seasoning powder
1 TB soy sauce
2 tsp white pepper
1 TB coriander powder
1 TB cornflour
Dragon Wing Sauce (to toss chicken wings)
75g unsalted butter
4 TB Sriracha chilli sauce (can be omitted if you don’t want it spicy)
3 TB tomato sauce
2 TB rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp mustard powder (I used 1 tsp hot mustard sauce)
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp caster sugar
*Homemade Tztaziki Dip
3 TB kewpie mayonnaise
1/2 C natural greek-style yoghurt
1 TB lemon juice
diced cucumbers (skins off/seeds removed)
salt to taste
Season the wings and drumettes overnight with the seasoning marinade ingredients.
Heat oven to 220 (fan-forced). Line a baking tray with baking paper. Spray the seasoned wings and drumettes with a coat of oil. Roast them for about 25-30 minutes, turning once for even cooking till slightly crispy on the skin. (They can be deep-fried if you prefer).
To make the Dragon Wing Sauce, whisk together the sauce ingredients and simmer in a saucepan. Toss the roasted or fried chicken in the sauce until coated and well-combined.
To make the homemade tzatziki dip, mix the ingredients together and set aside as a dip for the chicken.
Asian After Work — Simple food for everyday, Adam Liaw, Hachette Australia, 255 pages
This is not a paid or sponsored review; neither has a copy of ‘Asian After Work’ been received by the reviewer as a sponsored gift or payment for this review. All the opinions in this review are solely and independently the author’s own.
If you wish to contact Kat Ngoi for book reviews, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org