By Leigh O'Connor.
When Adam Liaw won the second series of MasterChef in 2010, it was and still remains the most watched non-sporting event on the
gogglebox in Australian history.
Now eight years later, this smiley faced, top-knotted
lawyer, cook, writer and television presenter is still a favourite on our
screens and in our kitchens, with his innovative approach to Asian cuisine.
With more than 300,000 followers on social media, Adam’s presence is influential in the
Australian food industry. He describes his cooking style as ‘simple and
reflective of history, family and how he feels about food.’
"Food is more than a necessity, it brings people together,”
Adam tells AGFG.
In his latest venture, Adam teams with Chef Malcolm
Lee to bring our readers their Hainanese
Peranakan chicken rice recipe, as part of the Singapore Tourism
"Malcolm and I share a very similar philosophy – both of us
are passionate about food and are heavily influenced by our heritage in the
food we cook.
"I have enjoyed a strong connection to Singapore my entire
life as my mother was born there. Our heritage dates back about four
generations,” he explains.
"My father’s side of the family is Hainanese, who have a
very strong influence in Singaporean cuisine today, through dishes like Kaya
toast and Hainanese chicken rice.”
With Australia being such a multi-cultural country, Adam
says Down Under tourists to Singapore understand what’s going on food-wise.
"Likewise, Singaporeans experience Australian food and think
‘I can see a bit of ourselves in that too.’ Our food has enormous influences
from Asia, more than most Australians would realise.”
His favourite Singaporean dish, apart from the chicken rice,
is chilli crab – which for any visitor is the one delicacy they know they
should try. As for other street food, Adam singles out four dishes that are
must tastes for those wandering the lanes of this cosmopolitan city.
"Sitting outdoors with a big plate of satay, a cold beer and
good conversation are all you need for a perfect Singapore evening.”
Next up visitors need to head to Katong for a uniquely
Singaporean take on laksa, with a side of otak-otak - grilled fish cakes. This
spicy soup stock has an unusual colour, often described as a flaming sunset,
and is flavoured with coconut milk and dried shrimp.
As well as the fantastic chilli version, Adam says there are
lots of other varieties of crab dishes to try, such as white pepper crab. With
a salty, sweet umami-like base, it is a very flavourful way to cook crab
without too much heat under the belt.
Adam’s last must eat treat is Kaya toast, with a cup of
Hainanese coffee shop brew – his idea of a perfect breakfast and a great snack
for during the day as well. With a main ingredient of coconut jam, the toast is
topped with sugar, coconut milk, eggs and pandan.
"My best tip for eating in Singapore is to come at it with
an open mind. I have been going there my entire life and of course, I have my
old favourites I go back to again and again, but I’m always willing to try
something new because Singapore is always changing.”
Adam says if your budget allows, try to experience all the
different aspects of cuisine – from fine dining to cheap eats at hawker centres
and everything in between.
"Eating is a very social affair in Singapore. People catch
up over meals and it’s acceptable to tuck into food at any time of the day.
When you’re approaching food in this city, it can be easy to have six or seven
meals in one day, so definitely pace yourself.
"Even if you love it, don’t fill yourself up because odds
are, you’re going to come across something later in the day that you might like
Adam’s last words of wisdom for dining street food
style…bring wet wipes.
"If you are going to visit the hawker centres, one of the
most important things – I learnt this after having kids – is that you always
carry baby wipes with you. A sign of a well enjoyed meal is getting it all over
your fingers, so come prepared.”