I was all of 8 years old when I began my culinary journey. I used to sit and watch my mum cook and wanted to know everything I could about how and why with food. My mum is a fantastic cook and opened my world to experimenting in the kitchen with new ingredients. We rarely ate the same thing twice! Ever since then, food became a major part of my life- mostly eating but over the last 10 years, it has become more about cooking.
I have some fond memories of Asian cooking and experiences and the following two are the ones that I will never forget.
One of them has to be the first time I ate Yum Cha! It just blew me away. I was in my early 20’s and couldn’t believe I had never eaten Yum Cha before. A friend suggested we meet up and have Yum Cha in the city. I asked her all about it and just couldn’t wait to experience the noise, the vibe, the atmosphere, the trolleys of food and most importantly dig into a variety of moreish Asian foods, to my heart’s content! I just love the ambience in a busy restaurant and watching what everyone around us orders. It puts a smile on my face every time. It was such a memorable experience and the one that will remain on my mind forever. These days it’s a regular thing for us to have Yum Cha on a weekend for a family get together. We even travel miles just to try new restaurants and find the best Yum Cha. I also enjoy making our own Yum Cha at home. It’s a lot of work but it’s worth it to see everyone’s face light up in joy while they enjoy the feast!
My second fond memory was when I travelled to Thailand. I basically went there just for the food and to have it at its best. We ate at David Thompsons ‘Nahm’ restaurant in Bangkok and ordered his sampler style menu where we got to try many ‘little’ dishes. It was a night to remember! We also did a Thai cookery class in Koh Samui. I learnt a lot of new skills in preparing Thai food.
I brought the recipes home and have cooked them many times with my ‘own tweaks and touches’. It was a fantastic learning experience and that I will never forget.
I have now won this amazing cooking holiday from Asian Inspirations and in which I get to travel to Hong Kong to experience and learn new skills with my other favourite food – Chinese! It really is a dream come true and I can’t wait to share my experience with others.
I don’t have a standard cooking style. It can be very elaborate or really simple, depending on my mood and the food that I desire. During the weekdays, I like to cook reasonably quick food but come the weekend, I will go all out and spend an entire day cooking up a storm for just one meal or a selection of many dishes when entertaining!
I love heading to markets, far and near, just to purchase the food I need. Cabramatta is one of my favourite places to head to. I love the vibe, the colour, the noise, the hustle and bustle, the people, the shops but especially all the food. We try something new every time we go. You get the freshest and most unusual ingredients all in one place. I love most of the Asian food and I really enjoy cooking curries. They would have to be my favourite with green and panang curry being a firm favourite. But seriously give me any curry to cook and I would be in my element!!
I love the freshness of Asian food, the colour, the textures and also the heat. I would be happy to cook Asian food 7 nights a week (if my family would let me). I can’t choose a favourite but Chinese and Thai food are definitely on top of my list followed by Vietnamese and Southeast Asian food. To be honest though, I cook from all countries just to experience what the world food map has to offer. Here are some of the Asian recipes I have made. I like to take photos of my favourites.
If I ever have to give a cooking tip, the best tip I can possibly recommend to anyone is to read your recipe thoroughly before starting and to make sure you have everything prepared and at hand before cooking. The most time consuming part of Asian food is all in the prep. The actual cooking time is generally quite quick. The second most important thing is to use the best quality and freshest ingredients that you can lay your hands on. It’s all about the freshness, colour, flavour and “crunch’ for me that draws me to Asian food.
Just so you know, my pantry is always well stocked, especially with Asian foods (remember, it’s my favourite). But if I had to pick one thing that I wouldn’t trade with anyone, it has to be Chilli Sauce (all varieties and heats). I just love the stuff. I dunk in it, add it too marinades, drizzle over vegetables and meats, stir-fry with it, use it in sandwiches and burgers and just about anything else you can imagine that requires ‘heat’ of some sort to a certain something to lift a meal. It’s especially good with Yum Cha morsels and the like. I even have a little container that I take with me to places I know won’t have the chilli sauce I crave for!
The winning moment:
With all the cooking and experimenting that I did, I happened to receive an email from Asian Inspirations team. When I opened it, I just couldn’t believe my eyes. It took me a while to realise that I had actually won this awesome, out of this world prize but when I finally did, I was like “OMG OMG OMG”. I was shaking, I was jumping up and down and I was totally overwhelmed as I had never imagined that I could possibly be chosen for this Grand Prize of the best Asian Cooking Holiday – like Ever!! My mum was with me at the time and she couldn’t understand what I was trying to tell her, as I just wasn’t making much sense. But when she finally realised what I had won, she was jumping up and down with me! The “BEST” feeling ever…… I’ve never won anything much at all, apart from maybe a meat tray in the local club raffles, so this was HUGE!! I couldn’t wait to tell everyone.
Winning was totally a dream come true and come to think of it, the use of natural light in my photography plays a pivotal role in my winning recipe. It captures your food better and makes it stand out while also using certain colours to enhance the food, like I had with a green/blue plate against a natural colour underneath and then adding colours around the food like the chillies and the green garnishes. It looks attractive and brings life to your food.
You can view Kate’s Winning recipe here.
Other than that, it’s about using really fresh ingredients and keeping it simple. Chargrilling the sate sticks on a weber chargrill gives your food a lovely grilled flavour that makes you crave for more and makes them more authentic, replicating how they cook in Indonesia and Thailand, but still being able to achieve the same taste and flavour at home.
Among the many recipes entered in the competition that made me drool, I particularly liked Bernadette Hendry’s Prawn & Pineapple Fried Rice, Fiona Grove’s Pad Thai (love the flower), Cassandra McGregor’s Chargrilled Salmon with Sesame & Ginger Noodles, Charlene Thompson’s Thai Red Chicken Curry, Mark Ng Hainanese’s Chicken Rice (Yum Yum) and his Suckling Pig Ramen, Rosalin Kristiani’s Authentic Chicken Satay and Thai Larb Gai, Shantheni Suppiah’s Egg Net Spring Rolls, Shauna Pickin’s Dumpling Plate, Victoria Charnley’s Easy Chicken and Veg Pad Thai, Chiquita Morgan’s Panko Prawns, coconut rice & sweet chilli syrup! I could go on but these were my favourites. All these stand out to me the most, generally because of the lovely presentation and how it makes people feel. When food is nicely presented, it really is the starting point for how that person or people immediately feel about your dish – its first impressions bring on the love. It makes you want it!!
A lot of things have inspired me to become a master-chef in my culinary journey, and I must say that Asian Inspirations website is one of them. It is truly very informative and a dedicated site to food from all over Asia. Its gets my taste buds going and there is so much information on products that I have or have not cooked with. So it gives me the knowledge and confidence to go out there and cook a meal using the ingredients, I wouldn’t usually use.
The glossary is really such a useful tool. It is also jam packed with delicious recipes and information on culture and experiences. It has inspired me to make the best Asian foods that I can, using the best Asian ingredients.
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