Watch: Adam Liaw Eats His Way Through China's Eight Great Cuisines

Watch: Adam Liaw Eats His Way Through China's Eight Great Cuisines

Join MasterChef winner and Destination Flavour China host Adam Liaw as he journeys through China chatting, eating and cooking along the way

"Surprised", "Absolutely beautiful", "Magnificent" 

In his own words, MasterChef winner Adam Liaw has got some delicious opinions on Chinese food. Well, the Destination Flavour China host did travel the great country chatting, eating and cooking along the way. Starting from the busy capital of Beijing where he made a "pretty perfect" tangyuan or glutinous rice ball, to some of the country's furthest reaches. In wild Yunnan, the Malaysian-Australian chef made a bubbling Yak Butter Stew in a kitchen nearly half-way up Mount Everest. Here's more of what he had to say of his great big food adventure across China's eight regional cuisines.


1. Tangyuan: Pretty-Perfect Beijing-Style 

"In the Southern-style of tangyuan my grandmother taught me I'd make a dough from glutinous rice flour to wrap the sesame balls, but in Beijing they have a very different technique, so I'm giving it a go. I just put a touch of the glutinous rice flour into this cold water. And it's time to get the sesame balls out of the freezer." 

2. Bamboo Shoots and Cured Ham: Absolutely Beautiful Stuff

"Now for the cured ham. This is absolutely beautiful stuff. Bit like pancetta or prosciutto, but a very free range pig raised in the Anhui countryside. The important part of getting the ham and the aromatics into the wok first is it really flavors all of that oil that's gonna carry the flavor around those bamboo shoots. Fresh bamboo shoots have a crisp texture and a sweet, nutty flavor, a little like baby corn. Put the ham and aromatics back in. You really don't need a lot of heavy seasonings with Chinese food. All I'm gonna add to this a bit of chicken stock, wine, and just a touch of sugar to offset the saltiness of that ham."

3. Yangzhou Fried Rice: The Secret's in A Good Chicken

"It might be the most popular Chinese dish in the entire world. The secret lies in finding a good chicken. Now there are two methods to making Yangzhou fried rice, one is called silver over gold and one is called gold over silver. Gold over silver is when you pour the egg over the cooking rice in the wok. And silver over gold is when you pour the rice over the egg. Both of them result in a beautiful yellow rice that's coated in little pieces of egg. "

4. Lion Head Meatballs: Do It in the Bing-Bung Style

"Now the reason they're called Lion Head meatballs is that they're just giant meatballs that have a main of green vegetables around them. My ingredients are these. A bit of pork mince, some water chestnuts. These are lovely when they're fresh. Prepare that bing-bung signature, a red braising sauce. A rich sweet and salty mix of sugar, dark and light Soy sauce, and of course, some of the Shaoxing wine."

5. Shandong Roast Chicken: Classic Shandong Cuisine

"That harmony and balance between the five tastes of Chinese cooking is all present in this sauce. My sweet ingredients, I've got sugar, for my sour I've got that amazing Shandong vinegar that's kind of malty and sour and sweet all at the same time. For spiciness I use chili, the garlic and onion provides a touch of bitterness and I'm adding some chopped coriander as well. And then over the top of those five classic flavors of Chinese cooking, there's the one that unites them all, Xian, that kind of umami savoriness that's so prevalent in all Chinese food, but specifically here in Shandong."

6. Wenchang Chicken: All You Need Is Salt and Chickens

"In Malaysia, Hainanese chicken rice is usually served with a chili ginger sauce, but here in Hainan, Wenchang chicken is a little different. I'm serving my chicken with three different sauces, and the first uses calamansi. All of these little calamansi, or calamondin, limes, get stuffed with a bit of salt and packed into a preserving jar with all of these tiny little fiery hot chilies that I picked off the bush just outside. "

7. White Fungus Soup Sweet Potato Soup: A Classic in Cantonese Cuisine

"Sweet soups are a classic Cantonese cuisine. I'm making a very, very simple dessert, a snow fungus and sweet potato soup. Tong Sui literally means sugar water and these classic Cantonese dessert soups are as easy to make as they are delicious. I'm using ginger, sweet potato, goji berries, yellow rock sugar, or you could use normal white sugar, and the star ingredient, white fungus. And just look at how beautiful that is. It's a stunning looking ingredient."

8. Steamed Radish with Dried Scallops: Beautifully Balanced Fujian Dish

"It's just a couple of ingredients and this is what Fujian cuisine is so good at, taking the natural flavor of ingredients and then bringing them out with just a few seasonings that work on your tongue. All of these stunning pieces of china are locally made and they're a part of Fujian's history. These are about 70 or 80 years old."

9. Mapo Tofu: A Numbing and Spicy Marriage

"The most famous is Ma La, the numbing and spicy marriage between Sichuan peppercorn and fiery chili. Well, probably Sichuan chili bean paste. It's wonderful, fermented paste made from broad beans, unusually, instead of soy beans, and a particular kind of chili, and it gives a gorgeous red color and a belly-warming heat and savoriness to all kinds of classic dishes. That's that source of that red oil that you see in so many Sichuanese dishes. Pixian district in Chengdu is the epicenter of this most vital Sichuanese ingredient and Shao Feng Hebean paste is one of the best in the world."

10. Yunnan Yak Belly Stew: It's The Amazing Yak Butter

"You can get a touch of Sichuan pepper here, a touch of chili there. But the main flavor is just the, the simple flavor of good yak. And now for the spices, got some Sichuan peppercorn, some chili, both powdered chili and dried. Now these, this is sometimes called black cardamom, but I think probably got an aroma more similar to dried coriander seeds. Just a bit of spice anise and ginger as well. Garlic, and these are the leaves of the same black cardamom. And now for the last ingredient, this amazing yak butter. It's a wonderful thing, because it's got this kind of sour, almost lactic taste to it. But it's creamy as well when it's emulsified into that tea, it's like adding milk."

Eat your way through an endless Chinese feast with Adam Liaw's epic series Destination Flavour China

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