• Hawker-style oyster omelette (Ben Ward)Source: Ben Ward
Hawker food is fast, flash and fabulous - which suits Adam's style of cooking down to a tee.
15 Dec 2020 - 5:23 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2021 - 3:24 PM

--- Join Adam Liaw on an inspiring journey to highlight Australia's bushfire-affected food producers on Adam Liaw's Road Trip for Good Wednesdays 8.30pm on SBS Food and SBS On Demand. ---


As we venture across NSW, Victoria and South Australia watching Adam Liaw's Road Trip for Good, it's fair to say we're getting hungry. Not only is Adam sourcing some of the most luxe produce imaginable, he's also whipping up recipes with ease. Could it really be this easy to eat so well?

The answer, of course, is yes. We live in a country abundant with fresh ingredients that require little in the way of cooking, or even prep, to make very tasty indeed. This is demonstrated so well in the hawker-style food that Adam is creating in makeshift kitchens across the regions.

Could it really be this easy to eat so well?

Street food is generally cooked in tight spots on the sides of busy roads. There's very little time or even space for lavish recipes, so simple food that gives plenty of bang for your buck is where it's at. The key to this magic is in ensuring your ingredients are the freshest you can possibly lay your hands on. The rest is all down to fire in both kitchen and belly.

Here are a few brilliant Adam Liaw street-style dishes you can fire up tonight.

Roast pork banh mi

An iconic Vietnamese street food that is fast becoming Australia's favourite sambo. The roast pork takes a bit of marinading and slow-cooking time, but once you've cracked that, the rest comes together with ease.

Egg fried rice

This basic fried rice is a good choice for your first attempt at wok-frying. No meat or delicate vegetables to worry about – just a simple dish that will work well with good wok technique.

Beef satay

Satay is sold in streets across Asia, but Adam's beef version hails from Singapore. This recipe is easy enough to make, but good enough to take you straight to Lau Pa Sa.

Prawn laksa

Adam makes his prawn laksa with added crocodile... not even joking. In true accessible Adam-style, should you happen to not be able to get your hands on fresh croc, he does suggest a substitute. Good old chicken.

Hawker-style oyster omelette

Oyster omelettes are a staple street food in many Asian countries, including Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, South China and Malaysia. They use big, heavy-based iron pans set to a super-high heat to achieve a crispy base with a soft and gooey centre.

Basic tempura

The secret to a good tempura batter is the reduction of gluten, the protein in wheat flour that gives strength to pasta and bread. Keeping the tempura batter cold and dry inhibits the formation of gluten, which can make a tempura batter doughy and tough. The lower the gluten, the lighter the batter.


Okonomiyaki ("stuff you like") is one of Japan's favourite foods for good reason: it's cheap, fast and absolutely delicious. Don't skimp on the condiments as they make the dish.

Wonton soup

Plump dumplings swimming in a steaming broth, wonton soup is everything warm and nourishing in a single bowl. Should you happen to find yourself cold on the streets of Shanghai, seek this out.

Popcorn chicken

Taiwanese food is a great mix of local dishes with influences from China, Japan and Southeast Asia. Popcorn chicken – yan su ji – is a popular street food in Taipei, and once you try it you’ll see why.

Miso-glazed grilled rice sticks (miso kiritanpo)

Kiritanpo is a moulded and grilled rice stick that is a specialty of Akita prefecture. Originally devised as a way to easily transport rice to eat while hunting in Akita’s mountainous regions, it is also used in stews. This version of miso-glazed kiritanpo (known as “misotsuketanpo”) is coated in a sweet and savoury miso glaze and grilled until fragrant.

Hokkien fried noodles

Hokkien noodles are a style of noodle dishes made by Hokkien people who travelled throughout Southeast Asian from the Fujian province of China. You'll therefore find Hokkien noodle dishes across most of Asia, all of them good.

Chicken curry puffs

Deep frying makes for some of the most delicious street foods, and the curry puff is king. Bold flavour wrapped in thick, crisp pastry layers and fried until golden deserves such a title. Adam's recipe makes about 40 of these, which should be just enough for one person...

Cooking for good
Japanese-style cabbage rolls

More common in Eastern European cuisines, cabbage rolls have been adopted by Japan as part of yoshoku – Western food that has become part of the Japanese diet. When I lived in Japan, I ate these frequently at a little coffee shop near my office that only made them once a month, and I've had fond memories of them ever since.

Chinese toffee apple fritters

These Chinese-style toffee apples are simply apples fried in a crisp batter and tossed through a molten caramel. The apple pieces are picked up with chopsticks while still warm and dipped into iced water to set the caramel, delivering a crisp crunch with every mouthful.

Billy Kee pork

Not all Chinese food comes from China. Billy Kee chicken is a dish that hails from Sydney's Chinatown in the 1950s. Named after local identity, Billy Kee, the Aussie influence of red wine and tomato sauce is plain to see. I also add five spice and garlic, and replace the chicken with pork belly, but you could easily use chicken if you wanted.

Honey chicken

Honey chicken was one of my favourite restaurant dishes growing up. This version uses Kangaroo Island's unique Ligurian honey but you can easily substitute your own preferred honey instead.

Sichuan beer duck

This fragrant duck dish combines the sweet and numbing heat of Sichuanese spices with fresh aromatics, all braised together in a light beer sauce. If you're a fan of Sichuan cuisine, this is one dish you can't miss.

Sake-steamed abalone with liver sauce
Fire chicken with blue cheese

The Korean name for this dish is buldak, which literally translates to "fire chicken". Usually served topped with bubbling mozzarella, using blue cheese instead plays off its savouriness with the hot and sweet sauce similarly to how buffalo wings in the USA are served with a blue cheese dip.

Garlic butter prawns

This simple stir-fried dish uses fresh Australian garlic in a buttery sauce to coat delicious and tender prawns. If you want to make things even easier, you can skip the deep-frying step and just cook the prawns directly in the garlic butter sauce.

Peking-style pork ribs

This modern Cantonese dish has a convoluted history. Known as "jing du pai gu" in Mandarin, the provenance of the name refers to ribs cooked "in the style of the capital". Today that means Beijing, but given that the dish resembles the famous Jiangsu Wuxi spare ribs it may be that it refers not to the northern capital of Beijing, but the historical southern capital of Nanjing. Don't worry too much about the history though, because they are both easy to make and absolutely delicious.