Ordinary people. Extraordinary food. That is what this season of MasterChef is all about and I was fortunate enough to witness this first hand.
I was completely stoked to be invited to attend the MasterChef Asian Market Challenge. Before the Market began, Gary popped in to say hello to the hungry and excited crowd that filled the waiting hall. He explained that this year MasterChef was unlike any season we had seen before. This sixth series was all about the food. The three much loved and highly regarded judges; George Calombaris, Gary Mehigan and Matt Preston had taken several measures to ensure that those who were entering the competition for nothing more than their ten minutes of fame were quickly weeded out; leaving the talented, the passionate, the dedicated and possibly the best home cooks that MasterChef has brought to our screens.
This, I believe, is why MasterChef is a worldwide phenomenon.
Gary left and very soon the doors to the market, to the contestants, opened. We barged in.
Four two man stalls and hundreds of people surrounded me. We had been advised to not all pounce on the first stall. At the time I nodded, I was sure I would take a practical approach. Check out each of the menus, make a decision, line up, have my taste. WRONG! It was a freezing Melbourne night. The first stall was serving hot soup, it smelt divine. I couldn’t go past. The layout of the Market was as follows.
Stall one – Chinese
Stall two – Vietnamese
Stall three – Japanese
Stall four – Thai.
If you had of asked me while I was outside, waiting for the night market to begin which cuisine I thought I would try first, which cuisine I suspect might get my vote, I would have said Japanese. Then followed by Thai, then Vietnamese, last on my list would have been Chinese. Again, WRONG.
The soup that I couldn’t resist was Chinese and it was divine. Seriously divine. I tried all of the other stalls. I thought the Thai Steamed Coconut Chicken was quite nice, albeit a little chilly, and I enjoyed both the Vietnamese taco and Japanese dish – I cannot recall what they called it but it was soup, maybe miso, with noodles, a chicken ball and tempura prawn perhaps… It was all lovely. But I went back for the soup, and then went back again, and I would have continued returning but they had seemingly won over many people and what started as warm, comforting bowls of soup was now down to tasting spoons. I needed to stay away and let those who hadn’t experienced this delicacy do so.
The atmosphere was amazing. I had my chat on and met many fabulous, dedicated MasterChef fans. Not surprisingly everyone I spoke too was also a devoted foodie. It was an awesome experience being amongst the buzz. Asking everyone what they liked, why, and how they would vote. It was an hour and a half of nothing but tasty, upbeat fun.
The teams performed exceptionally well and I honestly couldn’t fault anything I tried. I certainly would not want to be in their shoes! The pressure, the pace. It is not for everyone. Again, extraordinary people, all credit to them.
I am hanging out for tonight’s episode, because of course, I do not know who won!!!! Will it be my much loved Chinese soup? I hope, at the very least, I get to see the prep. I want to recreate this one in my own home.
Tune in with me tonight, it was fun, fun, fun. I am looking forward to reliving it in the comfort and warmth of my lounge room.
In case you need more reasons to watch it is worth mentioning that the Australian Queen of Asian Cuisine, Kyle Kwong (delicious) is going to be floating around!
If you have missed any of the MasterChef action or would like to get your hands on some fabulous recipes, jump over here.
Let’s just hope those sneaky cameras didn’t catch me saying anything silly. I have a habit of saying silly, often embarrassing things…..
Enjoy!! Here’s to home cooks!
Black Rice Pudding with Nashi Pears
- 1/2 cup black rice, pre soaked*
- 1 cup full fat coconut milk
- 1/4 cup of water
- 4 medjool dates, seeds removed
- 1/2 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice
- 1/2 teaspoon concentrated natural vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 1 – 2 nashi pears, diced, to serve (optional, this pudding is also divine on its own)
* I soak the rice for around 3 hours. I would soak it for a minimum of 1 hour and a maximum of over night, a longer soaking time may not require as lengthy a cooking time.
- Place all of the ingredients except for the pears into a medium sized saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 50 minutes, stirring somewhat regularly. You may need to slightly tilt the lid for the first 15 minutes to avoid the mixture boiling over. Turn off the heat and leave the covered pudding standing for a minimum of 10 minutes, I have left it longer and it still works perfectly. Serve with the pears if desired. Eat and enjoy.