Billy Law is a Malaysian fellow who started cooking for himself at 19, when he went off to Australia to study computer science. “Like any poor uni student, the only way to survive the hunger pangs was to start cooking.”
He started with chicken wings glazed with honey and soy, a recipe that doesn’t appear among the 80-something recipes in the book. But another sticky chicken dish more than makes up for it – Cola Chilli Chicken, which uses reduced cola with light and dark soy to turn chicken thighs into a spicy-sweet Asian delight.
Law took to cooking, starting a famed Australian food blog, A Table for Two (atablefortwo.com.au), a Sydney-centric celebration of restaurants, cooking and culinary amazement, in both traditional ethnic culinary forms and creative ones, like Malaysian-Australian fusion. He also won nationwide attention as a contestant on Australian television’s “MasterChef Australia.”
In recipes like Cereal Butter Prawns, Law starts with a favorite from his Malaysian childhood, prawns in a crunchy coat spun from egg floss, then remakes it for a Western audience. He uses less butter, he notes, and substitutes a wheat cereal – Nestle Nestum, or wheetbix pulverized in a food processor – for the crunch.
Yet Law’s influences come from lots of hemispheres. Here’s an Asian dish, an omelette made with dried Chinese sausage and salted radish, alongside more eggs with Mexican inflections, an upscale huevos rancheros – baked eggs with chorizo, basil pesto and potatoes.
From party snacks like Five-Spiced Duck Pancakes to quick weeknight meals, like Baked Garlic Pork Mince Cakes, Law’s palate is as boundless as the Australian outback. As an added bonus, Law’s versions of Asian classics like beef rendang (Malaysian beef curry), kangkung belacan (greens in shrimp paste) and hand-pulled Hokkien noodles make them potentially accessible to even the mildly ambitious.
A few of Law’s recipes seem labor intensive, like the Black Pudding Scotch Quail Egg Sliders. A mini-Scotch egg, tweaked with the use of blood sausage instead of the standard breakfast sausage, then tweaked again by being served as the innards of a slider mini-sandwich with wasabi mayo. It’s the kind of dish that when you look at the beautiful photograph, you’re moved to wish someone else would make it for a party.
The text and the photographs, both by Law, offer a delicious look inside an idiosyncratic palate whose vastness promises an answer to practically every hungry eater.
Find Law’s recipe for Vinegar-Braised Pork Belly and Eggs here.