I never would have thought that Nessy Eater would be invited to meet a celebrity chef from series 1 of MasterChef Australia and be one of the twenty guests to taste some of the sumptuous recipes from her new cookbook called “Same Same but Different”. Following the success of her first bestselling cookbook ‘Poh’s Kitchen- My Cooking Adventures’, Poh’s second book will inspire you to full of mouth-watering recipes in a new culinary direction. To celebrate Poh’s long-awaited launch of her cookbook, she hosted dinner at Longrain in Surry Hills, Sydney. Excited guests arrived exactly at 6:30pm for pre-dinner drinks and had the opportunity to meet a few new friendly food blogger faces or celebrity guests. For example Billy Law and Kumar Pereira from series 3 of MasterChef, executive pastry chef at Sydney’s Shangri-La Hotel Anna Polyviou and Helen from Grab Your Fork. By the time the cloak hit 7pm, the artist welcomes everyone and gives us an insight of what to expect for dinner.
What’s for dinner tonight Poh?
We start off with Tuna & Nashi Carpaccio with mandarin dressing– A modern dish that illustrates Asian flavours. This entrée is obviously appetising with particular ingredients of grated ginger, diced cucumber, parsley, chopped garlic and leaves of coriander. Pleasant dressing flavours include mandarin juice, light soy, grapeseed oil and black smoked sea salt. Hidden underneath the thin slices of tuna were disc shaped peeled nashi pears. Wow, the crunch of the well infused nashi complements the texture of the tuna and the zingy dressing drew a very simple fresh taste.
Tuna & Nashi Carpaccio with mandarin ginger dressing
Couldn’t resist a close up shot of this Tuna & Nashi Carpaccio
Can’t believe Kumar Pereira and Anna Polyviou are sitting right opposite me.
Upon assembling this look of Dry beef floss rendang into my brains, the aromatic Malaysian spices wonderfully fragranced this dish. We are talking juicy, delicious and super tasty. NO WAY was this dish dry with many layers of complexity and seasoning. The chucks of trimmed beef was heavily infused with snipped red chillies, chopped brown onions, cloves of garlic, grounded coriander fennel, cumin and black pepper, sliced lemongrass and ginger, cinnamon, brown sugar, tamarind paste, cardamom pods and to balance the full-flavour at the end, coconut milk. The fiery burning sensation of spices is clearly spread out in this godly dish. Everything earthly is known in this main, even the presentation of the pandan crepe completely blew my mind. It may disguise itself to look a tad dry but you’d be surprised it’s super fluffy and moist once it lands to your tastebuds. A lip smacking crepe that knows how to shout out “LOOK AT ME!” I had trouble deciding how to deconstruct this dish because the appearance of the crepe felt like ripping off a bandaid but I knew in the end, it would be ok.
Dry beef floss rendang
At this point of the dinner, I felt like I was binge eating, in a good way off course. I was struggling to finish my rendang because it looked way too pretty to eat and secondly my belly was about to explode. I was feeling a little embarrassed that most guests had already devoured their dish and I was sitting duck still eating. Lucky for me, I was seated next to Lawrence from Fight the Craving and he was fantastic at being enthusiastic for me to finish my sticky rice with beef floss. Just before our next main reached to our table, Poh popped out of the kitchen to answer questions and greet all of us individually. When I first came across this impeccable pandan crepe, I was very curious to know how she did it. Trying to get over the star struck moment and get those words out of my mouth became difficult for me but I finally got my answer. Basically, the key to getting crisscross style crepes is using squeeze bottles. Starting from left to right horizontally, do zig-zag motion, and then again vertically and finally circle motions to finish off.
Best pandan crepe presentation.
Food coma warning lights started flashing and I couldn’t just walk out without having to taste Green curry with organic chicken best served with Thai jasmine rice. This bowl of predominant spice left my tongue tingling. It’s hard to dislike this exquisite green curry with savoury components like grated kaffir lime zest, chopped red turmeric, grated nutmeg, white peppercorns, Thai shrimp paste, fish sauce, roasted chilli powderand to make it more inviting coconut cream. The first thing I will comment about this curry is it is a classic and perfectly balanced using the sour notes of kaffir lime. Together with fresh sliced green chilli and galangal it adds a fragrant warmth to this dish. My stomach was obliged to be filled up with more curry since the texture of the chicken was moist and tender and as for the curry it was truly marvellous.
Green curry with organic chicken
As if that wasn’t enough, Poh also offered Steamed Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce. This is such an Asian tradition were parents tell their kids to eat more green vegetables, so mum this is proof I ate them steamed veggies whisked together in oyster sauce. Nice and crunchy.
Steamed Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce
Poh really knows how to host a dinner with the next big public appearance of Caramelised pork hock with five spice and chilli vinegar. This was indeed a very valuable manner to end all main dishes. The caramel flavour to the chunks of pork hock help carry out the pork’s honey sweetness and sticky richness. It is pleasantly enjoyable with the accompanying vinegar and medium red tender meat.
Caramelised pork hock with five spice and chilli vinegar
Well, we all know it’s not weird to have a secondary stomach for desserts and sweets only. I think I slowly made out with Kuih koci glutinous rice & coconut dumpling. This first dessert was expressive, it was overwhelming despite its greasy finishing touch. Using coconut cream, gula Melaka also known as dark palm sugar, dried shredded coconut, pandan paste, coconut milk and glutinous rice flour. Once the sweet dumpling is stuffed it is then wrapped in fresh banana leaves, shaped into a pyramid then steamed. A very toothsome sticky sweet dough that the coconut cream makes an amazing giving scent.
Kuih koci glutinous rice & coconut dumpling. You must be curious to know what’s inside…
Poh taught us how to fold those dumplings into a pyramid shape.
I know you want it… 😛
Finally, we finish our dinner with the second dessert Young coconut jelly with vanilla tapioca and seasonal fruits. Whether my waistline increased in a few inches in the time frame of 5 hours or not #YOLO applies to any last dish, especially for DESSERTS. I can assure you it’s worth the risk of having double food coma. Haha. Aside from being on a food coma high, I instantly fell in love with the garnished strands of coconut, silky coconut jelly, vanilla tapioca, buried black sticky rice and diced fruits. For additional texture, a cigar shaped crispy sesame wafer provides a toasted crunch.
Now that’s what I call a proper dessert serving.
Young coconut jelly with vanilla tapioca and seasonal fruits
More dessert porn.
We didn’t leave empty handed, each guest received a copy of Poh’s new cookbook plus her autograph. Be surprised for what Same Same But Different has to offer. This cookbook is divided in to tantalising segments like ‘Small Bites’ and ‘I Heart Carbs’. It is an exciting mix of Asian signature dishes and Poh’s family classics. Poh is right; It is same, same — but different. Such a POH-fessional cook 🙂
Grab your copy of “Same Same But Different” here.
I lost my sense of time and place as there was excruciating pain heading towards my heart because it was almost over. When having to face people whose work I admire, I make a brilliant habit of losing my words. All I could blurt out to Poh was that I liked her food. Overall, I am feeling very lucky and grateful to be invited to this exclusive dinner that Poh hosted. I am still not use to believing Poh from MasterChef cooked me DINNER. There is no other way to say this but if it was anyone else I’d be jealous of them.
Apologise for the food coma face. This lady clearly fed me well 🙂
Photo Credit to Lawrence from Fight the Craving
Photos by Vanny Tang
Like to grab a copy of “Same Same But Different” Cook Book? Then you can find Poh’s second book here.
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