Image from thesecretrecipe.com.au
When I was very little I used to shred my graph paper and pretend I was a hawker stall vendor selling noodles instead of paying attention in maths class.
With Celebrity Masterchef currently on our television screens, it's hard not to reminisice about the Masterchef contestants from the original season. Runner-up Poh Ling Yeow was perhaps one of the most memorable, and played a key role in the audience's reinvigorated hunger for good food.
Poh showed Australians that mock-meat made from flour and water (Buddha's Delight) could be tantalising, delighted in awakening George Calombaris' nostrils to the complexity of century egg, and made "cubic noodles" and "abacus beads" the new must-finds for the show's loyal followers.
In November, Poh will commence filming a new show "Poh's Kitchen" for the ABC, roaming across Australia in search of fresh produce and then cooking it with guest chefs. She has also signed a two book deal with ABC Books. The first cookbook is expected to be available late next year.
In the meantime, Poh is looking for a Secret Recipe that could win you a $20,000 kitchen makeover from Matchbox. I interviewed Poh to find out more...
Image from thesecretrecipe.com.au
10 Questions with Poh Ling Yeow
1. How has life changed for you since MasterChef? What have you been up to?
I guess the main difference is the media attention. I'm now getting professional work in the food industry and a lot of recipe writing, but apart from that I'm trying to keep my life as similar to what it was before Masterchef, simply because I already loved it. I’m also painting feverishly towards my exhibition in November.
2. What is the Secret Recipe search about? What are you looking for?
The secret recipe search is about finding a recipe that has an interesting story. The recipe itself doesn't necessarily have to be incredibly unique - it can be something quite humble but with some depth to its history.
3. As a first-generation Australian, I often think wistfully about the Chinese dishes my grandma used to make but now seem lost forever. Are there any dishes you're keen to preserve and pass on?
I completely identify with that feeling you are describing and the cookbooks I want to write are all about preserving family recipes, so yes there are literally hundreds of dishes I'm planning on recording.
4. How much did food and cooking play a role in your upbringing? Is cooking more than just preparing sustenance?
Food and cooking played a huge part of my upbringing as someone from a Chinese-Malaysian heritage. There is no way you could avoid it in that multicultural hotpot of Malay, Indian and Chinese - it makes for a truly diverse and interesting cuisine. For me it’s definitely more than fueling your body. It's about nurturing those you love, and, for me in particular, it's about getting in touch with my cultural roots which are regrettably, hanging by a thread!
5. Is there a food or smell that instantly transports you back to your childhood?
Definitely! Pandan, toasting belachan, durian, salted mackerel getting deep fried and the stench of the wet markets in Malaysia - there are too many!
6. What was a typical packed lunch for you when you were a kid?
Fried rice. On my first day at school in Australia I was given chicken giblets braised in star anise and soy - it was a nightmare! My dear great aunt thought she'd pack me my favourite dish, but it was horribly embarrassing in front of all the Aussie kids. Needless to say, I ate my lunch on my way home in the car that day!
7. Can you remember the first dish you learned to cook?
I think it was Melting Moments cookies. However when I was very little I used to shred my graph paper and pretend I was a hawker stall vendor selling noodles instead of paying attention in maths class.
8. Is there a dish or cuisine you've yet to, but keen to master?
That's a wrong question to ask an avid cook! There are too many cuisines and dishes to cook in one lifetime, but otak otak is one that continues to elude me - I can never seem to get the texture right, but I'm continually working on it because no dish defies my determination!
9. What dish do you crave when you're sick?
Rice congee with fermented bean curd and chinese pickles, or a daggy chicken pack with fried whole potatoes, peas and lots of bad gravy and chicken salt. The latter I always regret.
10. What's the ideal breakfast you'd want to wake up to?
I grew up eating savoury oat porridge or leftovers which is very typical in a Chinese household, but my most naughty favourite is leftover creme caramel from last night’s dinner party and a big mug of coffee. I can also get very enthused about "breakfast with the lot " andwhatever that may entail. My local used to do one with chorizo and a lamb cutlet together with all the usual suspects of bacon, eggs, tomato, mushroom and toast - yum, but best eaten not very often!
And because Matchbox are lovely people, it's a Freebie Friday today with your chance to win $200 worth of kitchenware!
$200 worth of kitchenware products selected by Matchbox.
Please note this competition is open to Australian residents only.
HOW TO ENTER:
All you have to do is:
- Check out the current submissions to The Secret Recipe and leave a comment letting us know which recipe is your favourite and why.
- Send an email to email@example.com and include your full name and a copy of your comment on this post.
This Freebie Friday competition closes on Saturday 31 October 2009 at 5.30pm AEST. The winner will be announced on Grab Your Fork on Monday 2 November 2009.
Thank you for all your entries. Click here to find out the winner.
Don't forget you can also submit your own Secret Recipe for a chance to win the $20,000 kitchen makeover. Poh will judge the winning recipe!
Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Ten Questions with Curtis Stone
Ten Questions with Matthew Evans
Ten Questions with Luke Nguyen
Ten Questions with Chubby Hubby
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10/09/2009 01:48:00 a.m.