What I Did in 2014 – The Highlights
Four hours outside Dubai, UAE.

Four hours outside Dubai, UAE. This shot was taken the day before shooting started on Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which was filmed right here!

2014 was another big year. Time always seems to fly by, but I think I’ve managed to pack more into this year than just about any other. I don’t want to bore you with EVERYTHING I did, so here are just a few of the highlights.

I joined Good Food as a food columnist. You can see my recipes in The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age every month or online anytime at www.goodfood.com.au. Here are a couple you might like from the past year:

Salmon oyakodon

Salmon oyakodon (and a bit of a primer on sashimi too)

Cinnamon and watermelon granita


American pancakes

I still write for Feast magazine and a bunch of other publications as well, so you’ll still be seeing my writing pop up all over the place. Here’s a piece on a dinner I went to in Tasmania that I wrote for The Wall Street Journal.

I released my third book.  I think Adam’s Big Pot is my best yet. Each of my books is generally just a collection of what I’ve been cooking that year, so they’re a bit autobiographical in that sense.

Now that my son is getting older and eats mostly what my wife and I eat, the book is focused on simple family recipes that are also authentic. It’s been getting a huge response and every week I get dozens of photos of all the dishes you’ve all been cooking from it. Thank you, and keep them coming! If you want to have a look at some sample recipes, check them out here.

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I think travel is vital to good cooking, and this year I traveled an awful lot. With cooking more than most other things it’s easy to get stuck in a rut of buying the same ingredients and cooking the same dishes over and over. Travel forces you to experience new flavours, new techniques and whole new ways of eating.

This year I was away from home for nearly eight months all up. I visited England, France, Spain Portugal, The United Arab Emirates, Sweden, Italy, Greece, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Myanmar and Thailand and had some incredible experiences – both in food and otherwise. You can follow my further travels on Instagram.

On the balcony. Oia, Santorini, Greece.

On the balcony. Oia, Santorini, Greece.

Matsuri in Hakui, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan.

Matsuri in Hakui, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan.

The Alhambra, Granada, Spain.

The Alhambra, Granada, Spain.

I ate a lot of great stuff too, and you can see a list of some of the food that floated my boat here.

Of course, I didn’t just go overseas. I travelled all around Australia as well, which brings me to…

Our third Destination Flavour season for SBS, Destination Flavour: Down Under, was our highest rating season yet! Our second episode was actually the sixth highest rating episode of a food program in Australia last year, and the highest on SBS. We put a lot of hard work into the show and it’s great to know you’re all enjoying it.

Edith Falls, NT, Australia.

Edith Falls, NT, Australia.

On an amphibious pearl boat in Cygnet Bay, Northern WA, Australia.

On an amphibious pearl boat in Cygnet Bay, Northern WA, Australia.

Cooking crayfish in Kaikoura, New Zealand.

Cooking crayfish in Kaikoura, New Zealand.

Here are a few recipes you might like from the series:

Yoghurt pikelets with kiwifruit jam

New Zealand Hunter’s pie

Salt and pepper Moreton Bay bugs

Ploughman’s lunch with salt-crust pork belly

I visited UNICEF’s operations in Myanmar. It was a life-changing trip in many ways and here’s a piece I wrote on it just to try and get my head around the experience. I’ve been involved with helping children through my mother’s work in China for more than 20 years, and a UNICEF Ambassador for 2 years now. Not everyone will have the chance to see first hand where the money they donate to good causes actually goes, but trust me it’s incredible. If you want to help UNICEF Australia, you can donate here.

Temples at dusk in Bagan, Myanmar.

Temples at dusk in Bagan, Myanmar.

With kids in a UNICEF-supported school, Thet Ke Kan Village, Myanmar.

With kids in a UNICEF-supported school, Thet Ke Kan Village, Myanmar.

I cycled around Hokkaido. Well, not the whole way around but we did more than 700 kilometres over 5 days. It was a fantastic trip with great food that made up for the EXTREMELY sore legs. The food and scenery were incredible but I honestly I think I enjoyed the cycling even more. I’m not a MAMIL yet but I am really liking being on the bike. If only I had more time.

At the top of the Bohor Pass, Hokkaido, Japan.

At the top of the Bohor Pass, Hokkaido, Japan.

Cycling Hokkaido

And finally, my son Christopher turned one! There’s not much more to say about that other than he’s growing into a great little guy and I love being his dad.

Christopher's First Birthday

Thank you all for supporting me this year in the various things I do. I love hearing from you too, so leave a comment below or try and catch up with me on social media on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

I hope you had a great 2014 too, and here’s to many more good times to come in 2015!


16 Memorable Things I Ate In 2014

The entrance to La Tupina (see No. 4).

I know I say it every year but this time it was almost impossible to narrow the list down. I did a stupid amount of travel this year and ate an even stupider amount of food, but I think I just managed to pick my favourites.

There are so many more dishes I wish I could have included but, without any further excuses and in no particular order, here are 16 memorable things I ate this year (that I didn’t cook myself).

Here are some links to last year’s list and the year before’s, if you’re interested.

And if you want to keep more regular tabs on what I’m eating and cooking you can throw me a follow on Instagram @liawadam.

1. Pastéis de Belém, A Chique de Belem, Lisbon, Portugal

The far-more-famous Pastéis de Belém down the road is accepted as the home of the Portuguese tart, but it can feel a bit like you’re on the conveyor belt of a tourist factory. At A Chique de Belem they’re still “fabrico próprio” (made on premises) and excellent quality, and you can even sit, have a coffee and actually enjoy yourself while eating tart or four (or six). I honestly thought the tarts were better here, too.

2. Foie gras and marmalade, Ganbara, San Sebastian, Spain

A pintxos crawl in San Sebastian is probably one of the best food experiences in the world, and doesn’t even matter that the food isn’t always that good. Don’t get me wrong – there are some exceptional pintxos around, but there’s as much boring/bad as there is interesting/great. This foie gras and marmalade from Ganbara was one of the greats.

3. Francesinha, Bufete Fase, Porto, Portugal

You could start a civil war in Porto on the question of where has the best Francesinha (“Little Frenchie” – it’s a Portuguese evolution of a Croque Monsieur) but after much wailing and gnashing of teeth I settled on Bufete Fase. The sound you hear when you eat it is your arteries weeping.

4. Confit goose wing and Salardaise potatoes, La Tupina, Bordeaux, France

Some say La Tupina has become an affectation of the rustic French cookery that made it famous but really, its only crime is aggressively staying the same while the food world evolved around it into something that can be overly critical, cynical and opinionated at times. If that’s an affectation, I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

5. Caffè freddo and pastries, Andreotti, Rome

My little brother lives around the corner from this place and brought me here on a searing hot Roman day. The caffè freddo is made with a base of espresso granita topped with more chilled espresso and a touch of milk. Now it’s the gold-standard for every hot summer’s day I’ve experienced since. A+ pastries, too FWIW.

6. Birthday cake, by Katherine Sabbath, Sydney

I’ve been a fan of Katherine’s on Instagram for ages and she so very, very kindly made this for my son’s first birthday. Often the trade-off for cakes that look this good is taste, but this was one of the best cakes I’ve ever eaten. Caramel mud cake with freeze-dried raspberries and toasted coconut plus cream cheese icing. The ice-cream cone is full of cupcake. Show-stopper.

7. Negitoro temaki, Sushi Shinnosuke, Kanazawa, Japan

Negitoro temaki (minced akami with Japanese leeks) is one of those salaryman sushi pieces that Japanese food snobs would never order in a fine-dining omakase. At Shinnosuke, though, the attention paid to the texture of meaty tuna and sharp leeks made it stand out, which is why it’s on the list instead of the more celebrated cuts like otoro nigiri. In fact, the whole meal at Shinnosuke was amazing. Completely different to somewhere like Sukibashi Jiro (which I guess since the doco has become the default benchmark for sushi restaurants everywhere) in the sense that the taisho’s style is some of the most contemporary stuff going around, but if this was in Tokyo you’d be paying three or four hundred dollars for it. In Kanazawa the whole meal was just a smidge over a hundred bucks.

8. Avgotaraho, capers and rakomelo, To Psarakis, Santorini, Greece

For such a tourist hotspot, the food on Santorini is incredible. Particularly in the somewhat-less-overrun towns of Vlychada and Ammoudi. This was my first time trying avgotaraho (semi-soft cured mullet roe) but it was like a more delicate, yolky version of karasumi or bottarga. These thick slabs were a perfect match with rakomelo (raki sweetened with honey).

9. Bacon and Prune Pave, Du Pain et Des Idées, Paris, France

This was just about the most perfect savoury snack I’ve ever eaten. I’m not kidding. Perfect smokiness of the farmer’s bacon, the right mix of crunchy, chewy and milky lactic fermentation in the dough, with a subtle sweetness of prune.

10. Native Australian ingredient tasting, Indian Pacific, somewhere on the Nullarbor Plain, Australia

For a long time native Australian ingredients have suffered from associations with gimmicky attempts to force “Australiana” into a modern Australian cuisine that has never really paid it much attention. I don’t really think much has changed. The gimmick has become the flavour of the month in fine-dining and chefs are now throwing native ingredients around with a shrug and wink, but I still haven’t really thought they’ve make much impact on how Australians really eat. Enter Mark Olive – and I say enter even though he’s being championing native foods for the best part of 30 years. His native ingredient tasting on board the Indian Pacific took place somewhere on the Nullarbor Plain during my 3-day journey crossing Australia from coast to coast and it has, at long last, opened my eyes to the possibilities of the incredible and unique flavours we have here.

11. Crayfish and chips, Nin’s Bin, Kaikoura, New Zealand

The Clark family live and breathe crayfish, and there’s a reason theirs is the best crayfish in New Zealand. Johnny catches them and cooks them in an old copper washing machine and his brother Ricky makes the chips (fried in dripping, no less). The secret to preserving the crayfish flavour is cooking them sixty at a time so that the water doesn’t dilute the flavour. Something to bear in mind if you ever have sixty crayfish lying around.

12. Toast Skagen, Hotel Diplomat, Stockholm, Sweden

This is a fantastic spot for lunch in Stockholm. Well-heeled and impossibly attractive Swedes of all ages in crisp-pressed shirts dining on Swedish classics with a bit of swank. Toast Skagen is lightly grilled bread topped with fresh prawns, dill, crème fraiche and vendace roe. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more civilised while eating toast.

13. Bain moke, Sone Kone Village, Myanmar

I’d just visited a rural health centre on a trip to Myanmar with UNICEF, and in Myanmar “rural” means we’d been crossing rivers in four-wheel drives for about 4 hours to get here. It was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited, and for a snack I bought a piece of this giant leavened pancake of peanut and coconut from a local seller. Ten cents a piece.

14. Ploughman’s lunch and a cloudy cider, The Mount Inn, Cotswolds, England

Anyone who still subscribes to the old trope that English food is terrible or boring is woefully out of touch. And it’s not that just magically got better a decade or so ago. It’s always been great.

15. Nasi campur, Warung Something Something, Bali

That’s not the name of the warung. I just can’t remember it. I’ve spent hours and hours in Bali on previous trips trying to track down some famous babi guling (usually great) or some new and popular fancy-casual restaurant (usually not-so-great) but this trip I just decided to eat from the local warung and sit by the pool. Maybe I just got lucky but the simple nasi campur from the place at the end of the street was different every day and as good as anything I’ve eaten in Bali, anywhere. Oh, and it cost a dollar a plate.

16. Pork jowl, abalone and fermented grains, Peter Gilmore, MONA, Hobart, Tasmania

Photo credit: Tourism Australia

This was one of the big fancy dishes at Tourism Australia’s big fancy dinner in Hobart. It was the best dinner I’ve ever been to. I wrote about it for The Wall Street Journal here.

Well, thanks for reading. That was a list of stuff I didn’t cook this year. If you want to have a look at some stuff I did, your best bet is here.

And if you want to see what else I got up to in 2014, try here.

Mulligatawny Soup

Mulligatawny Soup

For more recipes and great food ideas, follow me on Instagram. For recipe videos, hit up my Youtube channel.

This soup was born out of the times of the British Raj, with obvious English and Indian influences. The addition of rice is all important, and I like it when it’s cooked almost to a porridge-y consistency.


1 tbsp each butter and olive oil

1 large onion, finely diced

3 cloves garlic

1½ tbsp curry powder

1 tsp garam masala

2 tsp salt

1 can diced tomatoes (400g)

1.5L chicken stock

½ cup washed uncooked brown rice, or jasmine rice

1 Granny smith apple, peeled and finely diced

1 carrot, peeled and finely diced

1 small sweet potato, peeled and finely diced

2 cups cooked shredded chicken (optional)

coriander and yoghurt, to serve




  1. Heat a large pot over high heat and fry the onion and garlic in the butter and olive oil. Add the curry powder, garam masala, salt and tomatoes and fry for a minute until the spices are fragrant.
  2. Add the chicken stock and the brown rice and simmer covered for one and a half hours, stirring occasionally. Add the apple, carrot and sweet potato and simmer for a further 30 minutes. Adjust for seasoning with a little salt if necessary.
  3. Stir through the Shredded chicken and a little yoghurt, and scatter with chopped coriander to serve.

This recipe is from my third cookbook, Adam’s Big Pot.


2013 Was A Really, Really Big Year

I know I say it every year, but it just seems to fly by, doesn’t it? But as surely as 2012 followed 2011, we are now at the end of 2013 and what a year it’s been. Here’s a really quick snapshot of what I’ve been doing for the past 12 months.

AAW (1 of 1)

I wrote. And then I wrote some more.

I wrote so much this year I literally broke my keyboard. My Wall Street Journal – Scene Asia column, Around the Table, continued to get a great response. A few of my pieces were even in their top food stories for 2013. I wrote a bunch of stuff for The Sydney Morning Herald, Good Food, The Australian and Feast Magazine. I was published in an anthology of feminist literature by Penguin, which was quite unexpected but also very nice.

But the biggest thing I wrote this year was my second book, Asian After Work. I’m immensely proud of it, and thank you so much for all the photos and comments you’ve sent through to me this year. There’s really nothing better as an author seeing a dish go from an idea in your head to becoming a regular fixture on someone’s family dinner table. It’s humbling and I am grateful to you all for giving me that experience.


Asian After Work has only been in the shops for a couple of months but sales have been fantastic! We’ve sold tens of thousands of copies and my publisher has already ordered a reprint so there’ll be more to come! I’ve also agreed to write a third book, so look out for that later in 2014.

I travelled. A lot.

By my count I’ve stayed in more than 60 hotels this year. That’s more than one a week! There’s been a lot of traveling but it wasn’t without a purpose. I cooked a banquet as a guest of the Australian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur, a cooking class for 200 (yes, TWO HUNDRED) in Bali with Jonah Lomu and UB40 (I’m serious), took over from Stephanie Alexander designing the menu for this year’s Rymill Harvest Lunch, as well as going through Thailand, China, Australia and New Zealand. I fulfilled a dream of mine in writing, developing and presenting Destination Flavour: Japan. Travelling the entire length of that wonderful country over three months was an unforgettable experience and it has really affected the way I approach food.

What city am I in again?

What city am I in again?

That the series turned out to be such a success was really the icing on the cake. The response from all of you watching the show has been phenomenal and I really want to thank you for tuning in and supporting a show that we tried to make as intelligent, honest and entertaining as possible. The ratings were GREAT (our last episode of Japan DOUBLED the number of viewers that tuned in to the final episode of the first Destination Flavour season) and SBS has been kind enough to commission a third series. I’m right in the middle of filming that now so stay tuned for more Destination Flavour to come next year!

We connected.

Thank you so much for all the interaction on social media this year. There’s nearly 200,000 of you all across facebook and Twitter and I feel like I’ve heard from almost all of you! I held out for years but finally succumbed to the wiles of Instagram, and much to my surprise I actually love it! (I still don’t use those weird filters, though.) I look forward to sharing more with you and hearing more from you over 2014.


I ate. More than I should have.

My computer tells me I’ve created more than 300 new recipes this year, but rather than just the food I made, one of the perks of hosting a food and travel show is that you get to eat a lot of nice stuff that other people make. Here’s a selection of the most memorable things I ate this year.

Family came first.

I feel like I’ve spent a whole year in hospitals. I don’t really need to go into the gory details of it but at one point my grandmother, mother and wife were all in three different hospitals across three different countries and I was flying between them all! It’s been really difficult at times but amazingly, MIRACULOUSLY, not only has everyone pulled through but they’re all in better health than they were before it all went pear-shaped. It’s amazing how these kinds of things can really put things into perspective for you. Beijing-(3-of-6)

It hasn’t all been bad, though. The biggest and best hospital news of the year was the happiest of my life. We welcomed little Christopher Wren Liaw into the world! I know I’m gushing like every new dad does, but he’s probably (easily) the best thing to ever happen to me.

We helped.

This year I was appointed UNICEF Australia’s National Ambassador for Nutrition. Through the Bread for Good campaign and other initiatives from UNICEF, we’ve made a impact on the lives of children around Australia and the world. There’s still more work to be done. If you’d like to help UNICEF and the great work they do, you can donate here.

I hosted Christmas lunch.

I don’t normally mention specific meals, but this year there was a point where it looked like our family was going to be a few people smaller this Christmas. It all turned out for the best and gathering my whole family across 4 generations and 5 continents together at my dining table for a big family Christmas lunch was one of happiest days I’ve ever had. I don’t mind telling you that a few tears were shed, but I am very glad to say they were all tears of joy.

Christmas Lunch 2013 - At home, Sydney

Christmas Lunch 2013 – At home, Sydney

Well, that’s a lot to fit into one little year! Thanks again for all the good times, laughs and support. I really do feel like the luckiest guy on Earth.

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16 Memorable Things I Ate in 2013
Hot orange-glazed turkey with Scarborough Fair stuffing - Christmas Lunch 2013

Hot orange-glazed turkey with Scarborough fair stuffing – Christmas Lunch 2013

It’s time again for my list of memorable dishes from the past year and I must admit this year has been the hardest ever. I try to limit myself to calling out ten dishes a year (with a cheeky extra one to indulge myself – after all it is the holiday season) but this time I’ve upped it to 15 (plus one) for no other reason than that I’ve eaten so much good stuff there was no other option. If you’re interested, last year’s list is here.

This isn’t a list of the best dishes in the world, nor really is it a list of the best things I ate all year (although most of them certainly are). They are just the dishes that stuck in my mind.

There was a dish created specifically for me and my wife by two-Michelin-starred chef Yasunori Okada using ingredients sourced from our respective home towns. There was Hida beef rump rolled in ash, made by grilling Japanese leeks over oak charcoal for two days by Asia’s No. 1 chef, Yoshihiro Narisawa. There was a family Christmas feast hastily thrown together after a series of serious medical emergencies almost crushed us (don’t worry, everyone’s fine now *phew*), and even frog leg porridge cooked with Marmite and loads of fiery chillies (seriously) from Kuala Lumpur.

Eating each one of these dishes was a special moment for me this year. Thanks so much for letting me share them with you.

So here they are, in no particular order:

  1. Grilled Nagoya cochin chicken with yuzu kosho – Toriyoshi, Nagoya
  2. Pumpkin cooked in mead with white rice ice cream – Sixpenny, Sydney
  3. Babi guling – Pak Malen, Bali
  4. Sumi 2009 – Narisawa, Tokyo
  5. 25-year aged kombu stock – Takashi Okuda, Fukui
  6. Cheeseburger and root beer float – Gordie’s, Okinawa
  7. Marmite spicy frog porridge – Jalan Alor, Kuala Lumpur
  8. Daiginjo sake soufflé and salt soft serve – Ryugin, Tokyo
  9. Hairy crab and sea urchin nori roll with orange ankake – Kappo Okada, Sapporo
  10. Yang rou chuan – Roadside stall, Beijing
  11. Noto beef jibuni – Tsuruko, Ishikawa
  12. Kumara scones – Mavis Suckling, Dargaville, New Zealand
  13. Tea ceremony (Azaleas with their roots in a stone) – Kimura Soshin, Kyoto
  14. XO Sea – Quay, Sydney
  15. Eel spine kara-age – Kawatatsu, Kyoto
  16. 2013 Christmas lunch – At home, Sydney
Babi Guling - Pak Malen (Jimbaran), Bali

Babi Guling – Pak Malen (Jimbaran), Bali

Hairy crab and sea urchin nori roll with orange ankake - Kappo Okada, Hokkaido

Hairy crab and sea urchin nori roll with orange ankake – Kappo Okada, Hokkaido

(L to R) Sumi 2009, Sake souffle, Binchotan-grilled Nagoya cochin with yuzu kosho, White chocolate and strawberry pavlova (Christmas Lunch), Yang rou chuan, 25-year aged kombu stock, XO Sea, Candied pumpkin and rice ice cream.

(L to R) Narisawa’s Sumi 2009, Ryugin’s Daiginjo sake souffle with salt soft serve, Binchotan-grilled Nagoya cochin with yuzu kosho, White chocolate and strawberry pavlova (Christmas Lunch), Yang rou chuan, 25-year aged kombu stock, Quay’s XO Sea, Sixpenny’s  pumpkin in mead and rice ice cream.

Noto beef - Tsuruko, Ishikawa

Noto beef – Tsuruko, Ishikawa

Noto beef jibuni - Tsuruko, Ishikawa

Noto beef jibuni – Tsuruko, Ishikawa

Tempura (including eel spine kara-age) - Kawatatsu, Kyoto

Tempura (including eel spine kara-age) – Kawatatsu, Kyoto

Gin and tonic oysters (Christmas lunch) - At home, Sydney

Gin and tonic oysters (Christmas lunch) – At home, Sydney

Kumura scones - made by Mavis Suckling, Dargaville, North Island of New Zealand

Kumara scones – made by Mavis Suckling, Dargaville, North Island of New Zealand


Marmite spicy frog porridge - Jalan Alor, Kuala Lumpur

Marmite spicy frog porridge – Jalan Alor, Kuala Lumpur

Azaleas with their roots in a stone - Juko, Kyoto (served at tea ceremony)

Azaleas with their roots in a stone – Juko, Kyoto (served at tea ceremony)


Cheeseburger and root beer float - Gordies', Okinawa

Cheeseburger and root beer float – Gordies’, Okinawa


Christmas Lunch 2013 - At home, Sydney

Christmas Lunch 2013 – At home, Sydney




Fish Sauce Roast Chicken

Fish Sauce Roast Chicken (1 of 1)


For more recipes and great food ideas, follow me on Instagram. For recipe videos, head over to my Youtube channel.

If you sometimes get sick of the same old roast chicken, the sticky Thai flavours in this bird will be a welcome change. Even if you don’t like fish sauce, don’t be deterred; all that’s left of that fishy, pungent taste after roasting is a thick, caramelised glaze that’s full of flavour.


1 whole 1.75kg free-range chicken

1 red onion, peeled and chopped into eighths


1/3 cup (80mls) fish sauce

1 whole coriander plant, roughly chopped (including one single root, and all stems and leaves), some leaves reserved for garnish

1 clove garlic, sliced

2 tbsp caster sugar

3 birdseye chillies, finely sliced

juice of ½ lemon


  1. Heat your oven to 180C (fan-forced). Mix all of the marinade ingredients together, and stir well to dissolve the sugar. Set aside while you prepare the chicken.
  2. Rinse the chicken under running water and pat it dry inside and out with paper towel.  [Update: Recent British NHS guidelines released after this post recommend against washing poultry before cooking.] With kitchen scissors or a heavy knife, cut down either side of the backbone of the chicken and remove the backbone completely. Remove the wishbone if you like, as this will make carving the breast easier after the chicken is cooked. Press down on the breast of the chicken to flatten it. (Discard the backbone or, if you prefer, chop it into large pieces and place the pieces into the roasting tray to add more flavor to the pan juices.)
  3. Work your fingers under the skin of the breast and thighs. Spoon the marinade over the inside and outside of the chicken, as well as between the skin and meat, getting as much of the solid ingredients in the marinade under the skin as you can. Place the onion in a roasting tray and lay the chicken skin-side up on top of the onion.
  4. Roast for 45 minutes, basting every 15 minutes. Remove the chicken when the skin is dark and caramelised (it will be darker than a normal roast chicken from the caramelised sugars), and the meat is only just cooked through. Rest the chicken in a warm place for at least 10 minutes.
  5. While the chicken is resting, pour the juices from the pan into a jug, leave the onions in the tray. Skim off any liquid fat. Pour the juices back into the roasting pan with the onions and place the pan over heat. Stir the pan juices together with the onions and scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Spoon the sauce and onions over the chicken, scatter with the reserved coriander leaves and serve.

This recipe appears in my second cookbook, Asian After Work.

AAW Cover - Web

Asian After Work is finally here!

AAW Cover Shot Landscape (1 of 1)


I’m so pleased to announce that after months of hard work and a lot of love, my new book Asian After Work is finally available in bookstores around Australia.

It’s a book full of real Asian recipes that are simple and easy to make, and which use ingredients you can find at your ordinary local supermarket. It’s the kind of stuff I used to cook for years when I worked an office.

You can read a little more about the book here.

If you’re outside Australia, don’t worry. I’ll update this post with further news of international releases as I find out about them. There may even be a bit of a surprise coming too 😉

UPDATE (11 October 2013): Asian After Work is now available WORLDWIDE as an ebook through iTunes HERE!

Very shortly I’ll be posting a few sample recipes from the book on this site so please check back soon.

I really want to thank the fantastic team that helped put it together. My publisher Vanessa Radnidge at Hachette, my editor Jacquie Brown, my exceptional stylist Lisa La Barbera, the best home economist in the business Nick Eade, the amazing Steve Brown who photographs all my books, and the design king Reuben Crossman. Most of all though I’d really like to thank my wife, my grandmother and my mother (to whom I’ve dedicated the book). Strong, caring and inspiring women who I am lucky to have in my life.

I hope you enjoy the book. It’s one I’m just so proud to have written.

Happy cooking!


AAW Cover - Web



Destination Flavour Japan

DFJ (1 of 1)

It’s finally here! Tonight is the official launch of Destination Flavour Japan on SBS ONE at 8pm. I can’t tell you how excited and proud I am of this.

Making this series has been a real labour of love for me. I lived in Japan for 7 years and since them I’ve wanted to show what I love about the country and its food to the rest of the world. For Destination Flavour Japan, I wrote and developed the series together with our amazing director, Scott Tompson and Destination Flavour’s creator and Executive Producer, Erik Dwyer from SBS. My wife, Asami, was the senior researcher for the show and found all of the fantastic stories, so many of which are really close to my heart.

There’s episodes with my family, my friends, my favourite restaurants and so many extraordinary people who are part of Japan’s food scene. It’s a series I hope will give you an insight into Japanese food and culture, but also Japanese people and how life rolls by in this magnificent country.

You can watch full episodes online here, and there’s also the extended cut video recipes, written recipes and my weekly Behind-The-Scenes blog. (Sorry, the full episodes are only available in Australia, but if you’re overseas you can catch a sneak peek on Youtube.)

I’ll also be live tweeting most episodes so you can follow me on Twitter @adamliaw, or just use the #DestinationFlavour hashtag while you’re watching.

I really REALLY hope you enjoy the show!

UPDATE (11 October 2013): If you want to download the show from iTunes, you can do that here!

MREs: Anatomy of a Military Meal
Outside US Army base Camp Hansen in Kin Town, Okinawa, the long defunct Club Robin now operates as a military surplus store.

Outside US Army base Camp Hansen in Kin Town, Okinawa, the long defunct Club Robin is now a surplus store.

The huge US military presence in the Japanese islands of Okinawa is accompanied by a cottage industry where locals trade in used or surplus military equipment. In Kin Town, outside the Camp Hansen military base on the main island of Naha, there is a small nightlife district that caters to the personnel from the base. It’s suffered since its heyday of the 1960s and ’70s, and today more than half of the businesses in the area have closed down.

I was in Kin Town to eat Okinawa’s famed taco rice from the popular local eatery, King Tacos. You can read more about that here. The street King Tacos is on is a long strip of mostly abandoned buildings, but in one establishment that was formerly a bar called Club Robin, an Okinawan man operates a military surplus store selling everything from fatigues and camelbacks to medals and military rations, also known as MREs (Meal Ready-to-Eat).

I picked up one of the packs for 500-yen (about US$5) and asked the man if he’d ever tried one. He replied that he ate one for lunch every day. Only later would I discover how terrible an existence that must be.

In choosing an MRE, I wanted something identifiably American, and so among the many options including fajitas, ravioli and noodles, I settled on Menu 17 – the great American Sloppy Joe.

If you’ve never had a Sloppy Joe, it’s essentially a hamburger with low self-esteem. Minced beef is stewed in a tomato-based sauce and served in a toasted hamburger bun. With something so simple, it would be interesting to put the MRE through its paces.

MRE: Sloppy Joe

MRE: Sloppy Joe

Inside the MRE there are all the elements of a full meal. A few snacks, a main course, dessert and both cold and hot beverages. There are also condiments, utensils and even two pieces of after-dinner chewing gum.

Glorious, all-important, after-dinner chewing gum.

MRE (2 of 4)


1. Sloppy Joe filling – Barbecue sauce with beef (320 Calories, 17g fat)
2. MRE Heater
3. Spoon
4. Cheese spread with Jalapenos (180 Calories, 17g fat)
5. Tabasco
6. Iodised salt
7. Wheat snack bread (180 Calories, 6g fat)
8. Nut raisin mix (310 Calories, 25g fat)
9. Fudge brownie (320 Calories, 17g fat)
10. Nescafé Taster’s Choice instant coffee
11. Non-dairy creamer (for coffee)
12. Chewing gum
13. Splenda artificial sweetener
14. Matches
15. Moist towelette
16. Napkins/toilet paper
17. Carbohydrate electrolyte beverage powder, Orange flavour (90 Calories, 0g fat)
18. Hot beverage bag

Total: 1400 Calories, 82g fat.

Main Course: Sloppy Joe with jalapeno cheese spread and orange carbohydrate electrolyte beverage

Main Course: Sloppy Joe with jalapeno cheese spread and orange carbohydrate electrolyte beverage (Not pictured: shame)

Preparing the MRE was a straightforward process. Following the instructions on the packet, I poured a little water into the MRE heater – an iron/magnesium pad that produces flameless heat through an exothermic chemical reaction – and packed it into the cardboard box containing the Sloppy Joe filling.

I’m told that the MRE heaters can be quite effective, but after waiting the recommended 10 minutes there was very little in the way of warmth, and substantially more in the way of unpleasant chemical smells and disappointment.

Thankfully, I was not in the field and so I was able to heat the package in a pot of water on the stove. Minutes later, I was cooking with the fiery latin heat of a young Jimmy Smits.

Waiting for the filling to heat, I opened the package of “wheat snack bread” to discover it had both the appearance and texture of cardboard. If it had once intended to break apart into some kind of bun, it had long since lost the motivation to do so.

The Sloppy Joe filling was one of the most terrifying things I have ever encountered. As I opened the warmed packet and experienced what was inside, I could have sworn I heard a distant scream. The meat that had been touted as minced beef was clearly a kind of paste that had been reconstituted into a uniform, beef mince-like shape (for what ungodly reason is anyone’s guess). The sauce that tried so earnestly to hide the beef’s shame was a cheerful cherry red, with an aroma reminiscent of ‘new car smell’.

Topping the dispirited snack bread with the now-ironic Sloppy Joe “filling”, I prayed that the Cheese spread with Jalapenos would offer some hope, or at the very least a distraction. But as I read the helpful instructions to “knead well before opening” I knew all was lost.

The contents of the well-kneaded packet were an odd yellow-grey paste that resembled a dead man’s tongue, and owed about as much to cheese as it did jalapenos. Which is to say, nothing.

I had naively assumed that the cheese was a topping for the Sloppy Joe (as pictured above), but further reading (Lucky Peach, Issue 6) now informs me that it is in fact intended as a separate element in the meal. Adding it to the Sloppy Joe is a hack developed by soldiers in the field.

Now that’s all well and good, but let’s just pause for a moment to wonder at how the creator of this MRE must live if they consider that eating 42.5g of cheese paste without any accompaniments is a reasonable thing for a person to do. I can only imagine they once observed a tramp rifle through some garbage, emerging to eat a lump of soft cheese straight out of his hand, and it was at that point they had their “lightbulb moment”.

The flavour of the Sloppy Joe was in itself a hate-crime. Notes of canned spaghetti and low-sodium ketchup were confused by the texture of bread that was somehow both mushy and dry-brittle at the same time. Even doused in Tabasco I could only stomach a few mouthfuls before I started to feel a deep sorrow. The artificial-orange electrolyte drink powder that defied dissolution did little to wash away the taste.

Dessert: Fudge brownie, instant coffee, nuts and chewing gum

Dessert: Fudge brownie, instant coffee, nuts and sweet, sweet chewing gum

Moving on to dessert, I took a brief detour to the packet of mixed nuts and fruit. Egged on by a few unsavoury raisins, a gang of peanuts surrounded a clearly terrified almond. I don’t know how you spoil a nut, but they too had a strange chemical taste and were devoid of any nut flavour. The raisins themselves I can only describe as belligerent.

In a small coup for the folks back at MRE headquarters, the fudge brownie had some moisture to it, and its texture of clay was at least ‘wet clay’. A strong-if-artificial chocolate flavour upgraded that to ‘chocolatey wet clay’.

Inevitably, the instant coffee with non-dairy creamer and Splenda was not so much coffee as a beverage designed specifically to mock coffee.

Ending the meal came the sweet release of chewing gum. It wasn’t good chewing gum by any stretch, but it was clean and minty, with a hint of an apology. With each chew I tried to forget what I had just eaten, and after a while I stopped weeping.

Let us never forget what transpired here today, friends, for surely I have experienced the horrors of war.

Japan Travel Diary – North to South
Ice fishing for wakasagi on Lake Akan, Hokkaido.

Ice fishing for wakasagi on Lake Akan, Hokkaido.

Over the past 3 months I’ve been traveling the entire length of Japan, exploring its cuisine from north to south – from the ice and snow in Hokkaido in February, through the riot of the cherry blossom season, and on to the sun and sand (and rain) of Okinawa in May.

It was an amazing trip exploring food and culture, and of course huge thanks must go to the entire support team that saw it through months of pre-production and a lot of travel on just about every form of transport possible.

There are a number of BIG projects coming out of this trip (one of which may be obvious from the photo above), but the first is a weekly Japan Travel Diary I wrote along the way as part of my regular “Around the Table” column for The Wall Street Journal’s Scene Asia.

Tsurunoyu Onsen

Tsurunoyu Onsen, Akita prefecture

I’ve collected all of the articles together here for you, so if you want to follow my trip from start to finish, just read on!

Hokkaido, Week 1: Off Script in Hokkaido

Tohoku, Week 2: Onsen Dining: Come for the Hot Springs, Stay for the Food

Ishikawa, Week 3: The Secrets of Perfect Sushi

Fukui, Week 4: Understanding Umami Part 1: The Kombu Code and Part 2: Bringing Balance to the MSG Debate

Tokyo, Week 5: Back to School with Ramen

Tokyo II, Week 6: Yakitori and Negative Space

Kyoto, Week 7: Sweet Treats, and Tea, in Kyoto

Osaka, Week 8: When the B-List is Best

Fukuoka, Week 9: Saving Fukuoka’s Street Food

Okinawa, Week 10: Okinawa’s Gourmet Revival

You can stay tuned with the rest of my Around the Table columns for Scene Asia here. And of course, keep in touch for the SBS TV series and much more coming out of my trip over the next few months.

Wagashi traditional sweets. This one's called "Azaleas growning out of a stone".

Wagashi traditional sweets in Kyoto. This one’s called “Azaleas growning out of a stone”.

Hand made Japanese knives in Osaka

Hand made Japanese knives in Osaka

Maiko (apprentice geisha) in Kyoto

Maiko (apprentice geisha) in Kyoto

A Fukuoka yatai stall selling Hakata-style ramen.

A Fukuoka yatai stall selling Hakata-style ramen.

Taco rice from King Tacos, Okinawa.

Taco rice from King Tacos, Okinawa.