• Palisa Anderson (Water Heart Food)Source: Water Heart Food
Travel with Palisa Anderson as she explores her early food memories of Thailand with a handful of Australia’s most respected and emerging chefs to discuss and celebrate that which connects them across cultures and borders.
19 Nov 2020 - 12:06 PM  UPDATED 16 Sep 2021 - 11:12 AM

--- Palisa Anderson is host of Water Heart Food with Palisa Anderson airing Monday-Friday at 6.00pm on SBS Food with encores at 12.30pm the following days, and streaming free on SBS On Demand. ---


Respected cook, farmer, writer, entrepreneur, mother and member of a family business to a beloved restaurant chain, Chat Thai, Palisa Anderson is many things to many people. But ask her what connects her heart to it all, and she will simply reply “real, good food”.

The Thai cultural tenet she grew up being influenced by time and time again was the principle of "nahm jai". The literal translation of this expression is ‘water heart’, though the significance of this beautiful sentiment is mindfulness of how to live with generosity, compassion, empathy and awareness all at once. 

While travelling back to Thailand is beyond reach, Palisa became curious to meet those in her community who embody this meaning & whose unique approach to cooking could help keep alive that hunger for a familiar taste of home.

So, from her farm in Byron Bay and its neighbouring salty enclaves, to the big smoke of Sydney and some of the city’s best chefs, restaurants and out of town destinations, Water Heart Food sees Palisa sharing a very intimate exchange with some of her favourite food Industry icons and rising stars, exploring where their passion comes from and sharing food stories to discover we have more in common than we think.


Episode 1

Airs 6.00pm Monday 20 September, 2021 on SBS Food

Thailand is home to many incredible food markets that sell an abundance of fresh and seasonal fruit and vegetables. It's the type of produce Palisa now grows on her farm and supplies to many top-end chefs and restaurants in New South Wales. To start the series, Palisa catches up with chef Christine Manfield at the Mullumbimby markets and then at her farm, where she uses fresh guavas to make a Thai-inspired finger lime, guava and tapioca dessert. Afterwards, Palisa visits one of her customers, executive chef Peter Gilmore, who is at the helm of both Quay restaurant in Sydney Harbour and Bennelong at the Sydney Opera House. Peter uses some of Palisa's fresh striped peanuts to make a simple yet refined mud crab salad. 

Mud crab, white asparagus, pin-striped peanut salad

This impressive-looking salad, topped with matchsticks of asparagus, brings together a small but mighty list of ingredients. A delicate balance of lemon and creme fraiche enhances the sweetness of the mud crab.

Coconut tapioca cream, lime curd and guava

This elegant make-ahead dessert is an explosion of tropical flavours, with fragrant guava sorbet and sliced fresh guava, zesty lime curd and tapioca-flecked coconut cream. 

Boon Cafe's pandan chiffon cake baked by Mahalia.

Episode 2

Airs 6.00pm Tuesday 21 September, 2021 on SBS Food

In this episode, Palisa meets up with two old friends: fellow second-generation Thais Ari Walpole and Mahalia Barnes (daughter of Jimmy Barnes). They visit the Sydney Fish Markets, and reminisce about their childhood in Sydney over a sumptuous Thai lunch, then get together to cook a few delicious Thai-inspired recipes.

Smoked mackerel green papaya salad with Davidson plum dressing

Davidson plums are a distinctive, deep purplish-red fruit from Northern NSW. In this recipe, they lend a uniquely Australian sour tang to a quintessentially Thai dish. If boning and butterflying the mackerel is a little daunting, then Tasmanian ocean trout fillet is an excellent substitute.

Boon Cafe’s chiffon cake

Light and airy chiffon cake is the perfect vehicle for allowing the sweet herbaceous aroma and vibrant green colour of pandan to shine. Topped with coconut, a classic flavour combination for pandan, this is a wonderfully tropical dessert.

Episode 3

Airs 6.00pm Wednesday 22 September, 2021 on SBS Food

Palisa meets two well-known Sydney chefs to explore how cuisines from different countries can mingle and influence each other. Barbados native Paul Carmichael who's the executive chef at Momofuku Sieobo uses two items often used in Thai cuisine – coconut and pandan – to make a Cuban-inspired dessert, and chef and founder of Longrain and Cook's Co-op, Martin Boetz makes a Chinese-style Thai duck soup.

Steamed duck, winter melon and shiitake soup

Winter melon (actually in season spring-summer) has a mild taste that absorbs the flavour of this deeply aromatic broth. Add into the mix earthy shiitake mushrooms and duck, and you have one soothing, aromatic concoction.

Episode 4

Airs 6.00pm Thursday 23 September, 2021 on SBS Food

Back up the coast, Palisa visits two well-known Byron chefs to explore the idea of combining traditional cooking methods with the use of the local ingredients. Ben Devlin of Pipit restaurant experiments with the Thai staple, fish sauce, making a variety of unusual garums. Jason Saxby head chef at Rae's on Wategos adapts traditional Italian recipes by using local Australian ingredients. Palisa and Jason engage in a cook off, each making their version of kangaroo tartare - one Italian-style, one Thai-style.

Kangaroo tonnato

This dish is a hybrid of two classic dishes: tartare and vitello tonnato (cold sliced veal in a creamy sauce of tuna and capers). The combination of classic Italian flavours with native Australian ingredients gives this tonnato a fresh, vibrant appeal.

Flathead with emu egg thermidor sauce by Josh.

Episode 5

Airs 6.00pm Friday 24 September, 2021 on SBS Food

In Thailand, foraging for wild ingredients and living off what the land provides is a big part of the way of life for in rural areas. In Byron, indigenous Currie Country woman Arabella Douglas forages for native ingredients and supplies chefs such as Josh Lewis of Fleet Restaurant who Palisa meets. Josh then cooks Palisa a dish using emu eggs before she heads to collect pipis with Arabella to use as part of a sumptuous campfire cook up of local seafood.

Flathead with emu egg Thermidor sauce

A 1980s classic is given a modern Australian twist, with a Thermidor sauce using emu egg and milk kefir; crisp black kale adds an aromatic edge to complete the dish.

Nahm jai: the Thai principle behind Palisa Anderson's empire
Palisa Anderson constantly considers her impact on others while running her organic farm in Byron Bay and overseeing 12 restaurants.
Feels like home: This former Thai singer makes amazing khao soi
Yuwat Khuwimon dealt with intestines and rock music before bringing northern Thai staples (like khao soi) to Sydney's Show Neua.
Classic Thai tom yum

This is the classic creamier style of tom yum, made with evaporated milk and rich with fragrant lemongrass and galangal. 

Thai breakfast rice soup (jok)

This is Thailand's breakfast of champions, a super-comforting soup. 

Sand whiting jungle curry

If sand whiting is difficult to source, you may use a similar white fish, like snapper, instead. Food Safari Water