Chef Junda Khoo is the owner and head chef at the amazing Ho Jiak restaurant in Sydney, Australia. The restaurant specialises in Malaysian street food and has two locations around Sydney. We asked Chef Junda how to make the super tasty dish 'Tau Eu Bak', and to share a bit about himself.
What do you like to cook and why?
"I love cooking all kinds of food, however, my favourite would be simple home-cooked meals or recipes. Watching others smile when they eat the dishes I cook is the reason why I do it. There's something priceless about it. It's something that can't be bought with money, and the joy and happiness that it gives me drives me to do what I do every day. That's where my main inspiration comes from; the joy of having others enjoy the food that I cook.
However, the main reason for all my cooking will always be because of and for Amah, my grandmother. She exposed me to home-cooked meals when she cooked for the family every day, took me to the markets to buy groceries, and showed me how to prepare and cook for everyone. That is why the dishes I serve at Ho Jiak Haymarket have such a huge emphasis on 'family-style dishes'. They are mainly from the dishes that Amah used to cook for me. I want to share her legacy with the world."
What is your best cooking tip?
"Keep it simple. Amah always said, 'Simple dishes, or cooking when done right, can be amazing.' I tell anyone who asks me for recipes and advice on cooking that the recipe is actually not important. In fact, it is the cooking technique that is essential. If you can cook the ingredient correctly, it doesn't matter how much salt or sauce is added to it. When done right, you really only need a few items like salt and pepper for it to be amazing."
What do you know now, that you wish you knew when you first started as a chef?
"Nothing. Till today, I still regard myself as someone who knows nothing, or not enough. I am still constantly learning and developing myself as a chef every day, reading and researching in order to continuously improve. When I first started, I had zero experience in a commercial kitchen, and even close to ten years later as a chef, I can honestly say that I'm still at ground zero and want to keep improving."
What are your favorite dishes to cook on your current menu that you recommend most to diners?
"I would go with our Char Koay Teow. It's been our signature dish at Ho Jiak from day one, but even after 5 years, we are still finding ways to make it better and tastier. The name of the dish may have stayed the same, but we have changed how we prepare it over the years. Currently, we are integrating more seasonal and premium ingredients to it, such as the Western Australia Marron or Trout Roe or Spanner Crab Meat."
Why did you choose this recipe to share?
"This was a simple choice because it was one of Amah's signature dishes. She used to cook it for the family on a weekly basis, and we would smash through it with a big bowl of rice and some homemade Sambal Belacan sauce. Choosing to share this recipe and having more people cook this dish in their homes is one of the ways I would love for Amah's legacy to live through us, even after she has gone."
Recipe: How to make 'Tau Eu Bak'
- Pork Belly - 1kg (Cut it into 1cm x 1 cm pieces)
- Garlic - 35g (Lightly crushed)
- Rock Sugar - 50g
- Star Anise - Just a couple
- Soy Sauce - 100ml
- Caramel Sauce - 25ml
- Pepper - 1/2 tsp
- Mix all ingredients well until the pork is covered in sauce.
- Pour it into a pot with the lid on, turn stove on high for 10 minutes. Stir every 2 minutes.
- Add in 375ml of water.
- Keep the element on high with the lid on the pot for another 10 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes.
- Turn the element/ gas down to medium and simmer it slowly with the lid on for 40 minutes. Stir every 10 minutes.
- Plate up and enjoy! Serve with boiled eggs (optional)