Allen Woo

Allen Woo

Chef Allen Woo was born in the small Malaysian city of Ipoh, in the state of Perak, and grew up with a love of food.

He believes that Malaysians love food not because they are constantly in hunger, but because they see food as very much a part of life’s enjoyment, culture and a form of art.

Allen constantly seeks the ‘soul’ in food, which he says is the balance of texture and flavour. Food with only just flavour is not enough, as texture is the key to decide how good the food is.

After spending over 10 years with mentors Beh Kim Un and John Dunham (owners of Melbourne’s infamous The Isthmus of Kra and Shakahari), Woo opened Ah Mu in early 2000 to rave reviews from Melbourne’s most prestigious food reviewers and critics. He then went on to open Laksa Me in 2007 in a bid to provide creative, traditional and Australian versions of Malaysian and Asia Pacific cuisine.

Being a Chinese descendant, Allen describes his palate as “Chinese dominant”, however being a Malaysian, he considers himself lucky to be exposed to many other ethnic cuisines, such as Malay, Indian, Nonya and Mamak.

“To many, food is just something to put in your mouth, but to me, food is art, food is history, food is culture, food is chemistry, and food is the back bone of a community,” says Allen.

Allen is a key ambassador of the global campaign Malaysia Kitchen, a MATRADE (Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation) initiative that aims to create positive buzz around Malaysian food and restaurants.

Malaysia Kitchen, with the help of ambassadors such as Allen, also aims to define Malaysian cuisine in Australian’s minds.

The campaign has already resulted in an increase of 100% foot traffic in a number of restaurants across Australia, Laksa Me included.

Hints and tips for Malaysian cooking:

• Choose fresh ingredients, Asian food tastes better when it combines fresh produce, not frozen or from a can.

• To peal a clove of garlic, smash the garlic with the back of a chopping knife to separate the skin from the garlic. You can also soak the garlic in cold water for few minutes to make peeling easier.

• If you are going to use dried spices in cooking, you must add water first to form a paste. This will release the aromas and flavours.

• Off cuts of fresh lemongrass can be added into a pot of tea to add extra flavour. Or, add with some honey to make a lemongrass tea.

• Always heat up the wok before adding oil to avoid ingredients sticking on wok.

• Asian greens are best when blanched in boiling water. When blanching, add a tablespoon of cooking oil to keep the green colour.

• Sesame oil should only be used for seasoning and is not suitable for cooking.

Chef Allen Woo was born in the small Malaysian city of Ipoh, in the state of Perak, and grew up with a love of food.

He believes that Malaysians love food not because they are constantly in hunger, but because they see food as very much a part of life’s enjoyment, culture and a form of art.

Allen constantly seeks the ‘soul’ in food, which he says is the balance of texture and flavour. Food with only just flavour is not enough, as texture is the key to decide how good the food is.

After spending over 10 years with mentors Beh Kim Un and John Dunham (owners of Melbourne’s infamous The Isthmus of Kra and Shakahari), Woo opened Ah Mu in early 2000 to rave reviews from Melbourne’s most prestigious food reviewers and critics. He then went on to open Laksa Me in 2007 in a bid to provide creative, traditional and Australian versions of Malaysian and Asia Pacific cuisine.

  

Being a Chinese descendant, Allen describes his palate as “Chinese dominant”, however being a Malaysian, he considers himself lucky to be exposed to many other ethnic cuisines, such as Malay, Indian, Nonya and Mamak.

“To many, food is just something to put in your mouth, but to me, food is art, food is history, food is culture, food is chemistry, and food is the back bone of a community,” says Allen.

Allen is a key ambassador of the global campaign Malaysia Kitchen, a MATRADE (Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation) initiative that aims to create positive buzz around Malaysian food and restaurants.

Malaysia Kitchen, with the help of ambassadors such as Allen, also aims to define Malaysian cuisine in Australian’s minds.

The campaign has already resulted in an increase of 100% foot traffic in a number of restaurants across Australia, Laksa Me included.

Hints and tips for Malaysian cooking:

• Choose fresh ingredients, Asian food tastes better when it combines fresh produce, not frozen or from a can.

• To peal a clove of garlic, smash the garlic with the back of a chopping knife to separate the skin from the garlic. You can also soak the garlic in cold water for few minutes to make peeling easier.

• If you are going to use dried spices in cooking, you must add water first to form a paste. This will release the aromas and flavours.

• Off cuts of fresh lemongrass can be added into a pot of tea to add extra flavour. Or, add with some honey to make a lemongrass tea.

• Always heat up the wok before adding oil to avoid ingredients sticking on wok.

• Asian greens are best when blanched in boiling water. When blanching, add a tablespoon of cooking oil to keep the green colour.

• Sesame oil should only be used for seasoning and is not suitable for cooking.

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