Cookbook Review: Poh’s Kitchen – My Cooking Adventures by Poh Ling Yeow

by Cookie McBookie

My rating: 5 stars


WARNING: IF SATAN HAD PLAQUE IT WOULD SMELL LIKE BELACHAN…



Belachan … one of the more exotic ingredients in this terrific new book.

I must confess to resisting the charms of Masterchef runner-up Poh Ling Yeow. This resistance however was purely due to “skinny-pretty” envy (ladies – you know what I’m saying). So it was with a measure of hostility that I picked up her recent cookbook.

I have to say, it looks gorgeous. Bright blue with little piggies, cupcakes and polka dots (to which I’m partial)  – cutesy – but it doesnt make me puke.

The “happy” theme is carried on throughout as background to the full size photographs which illustrate most of the recipes.

The recipes are not just her own but from the illustrious list of chefs she had on her show including Neil Perry, Antonio Carluccio and Ian Parmenter. So if you can’t be bothered buying books from these chefs then just buy this one!

Poh admits there is no common theme to the book, just recipes she loves to cook and I personally love the variety. There is everything from curries, paella, roast beef to icecream. There are also simple Cantonese recipes for steamed fish and steamed egg – usually these simple homestyle recipes are overlooked in Chinese cookbooks (its assumed you are born knowing).

I love this book.  Its truly Australian ie – English, Asian, Italian, French etc etc.

Thank god there is also a fully illustrated glossary from the mundane (eg chocolate) to the exotic (dried wood ear fungus anybody?) so the reader doesn’t need to blindly stumble around their Asian grocery store or deli like a tourist.

Also (my tip) please note that Asian store owners do not discriminate – they will speak to you like you’re an idiot whether you are Asian or otherwise. Don’t be afraid.

A lot of recipes (but not all the ones in the book) are on the website at http://www.abc.net.au/tv/pohskitchen/with instructional videos for the clueless … or obsessed. Note the recipes on line are a bit different to the book.

So how does this book cook? I wanted to try some Poh style recipes from this book and there is no greater test for a Malaysian cook  than “Nonya Chicken Curry” with “Roti Chanai”. Roti is the croissant of the east and I’ve been desperately searched for a recipe like this. I think they never appear as you have to use a shitload of fat.  If you knew how much you’d never eat one again. Check out Roti throwing video here on Poh’s website. Poh’s recipe looks suspiciously healthy so it will be interesting to taste it.

I also wanted to try one sweet dish and how could I resist the title “The Best Banana Cake in the World”... big claims baby!!!

Lets see how we go…

“Nonya Chicken Curry” with “Roti Chanai”

I had to buy a truckful of crap to make this curry.

That said, most is re-usable and excluding the meat cost under $30. You do have to go to an Asian grocer though. I can recommend Minh Phat next to the Vic Market  or Box Hill Centro or Footscray Market if you’re in Melbourne.

One of the ingredients is Belachan ie Satan’s plaque. Poh’s method of toasting to minimise smell reduction is kind to humanity but tends to steam the sh*t brick rather than toasting it.

I wish there was some extra info on how long to soak the chillies, the fact that tumeric stains like fake tan on the fingers and the time the curry needs to cook. Also, it took ages to pulverise the rempah in my food processor. Unless you are a freak or prefer living in the 18th century, don’t do this in a mortar and pestle.

Taste Test?

Satan’s plaque comes through pretty strong but the overall curry was pretty delicious.  It was pretty time consuming but I felt a surge of culinary superiority by learning how to grind my own paste.

I would definitely make it again.

“Roti Chanai”

The book says to spread the dough to 60cm. I think the idea is to make them thinner than condoms but one can only dream…

I had to use the website a bit to get the folding technique right.

The book wasn’t that great in telling me how to fry them though eg do I squash them in the pan or what?

Overall they tasted great with the curry.

Definitely worth pursuing but if you’ve never seen roti being made the instructions in the book may be a bit abstract.

“The Best Banana Cake in the World” (not on the website)

This was a really easy recipe to make and turned out as promised.

The crumb is very very moist, I’m more a dry cake kinda girl but hey, it still tasted good. I reserve judgment on whether it’s the best in the world though. Tip: It took a really long time to cook through so favour the skewer test on this one.

I really love this book. It gives me great options from all sorts of cuisine and I really trust the recipes as written. It’s also beautiful to look at and enjoyable to read. To make the recipes work however, you do have to go beyond the page and check out the internet. Overall 5 stars.

Shopping

Always shop around. I bought my copy at the Borders bookstore (now closed down). At time of post I found good online prices at fishpond.com.au/Poh’s Kitchen and at thenile.com.au

The Nile -Australia's Largest Online Bookstore


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4 Comments

  • January 9, 2011 - 6:18 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad you tried both the curry and the banana bread as they were what I was going to try next! :)

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  • Cat
    June 1, 2014 - 6:52 am | Permalink

    dear Poh,

    I first watched your video on you tube (making nyonya chicken curry with roti canai), than watched it a second time…. it looked so easy to make. So, I decided to try it out.

    And….. tadaaaaaa! It tasted like in Malaysia…..as you said: “sooo yummy!”

    kami berkliling lama di Indonesia and Malaysia. Semua orang suka roti canai dengan kari ayam.

    terima kasih banyak!

    Love your recipes, well explained and easy to cook! ***

    cat

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