It Tastes Better : Over 100 New Recipes Using My Favourite Sustainable Produce
By Kylie Kwong
‘This book is a celebration of all the growers, farmers, fishermen, artisans and food providores I have met . . . a tribute to the people behind the food I love.’
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In It Tastes Better, Kylie Kwong has created over 100 recipes inspired by fresh, seasonal and sustainably produced food, including Salad of Poached Squid with Pickled Cucumber, Dill & Chilli, Red-Braised Lamb Shoulder with Roast Garlic & Tamari Dressing, and an irresistible Pavlova.
Embarking on a journey around Australia to meet the people behind the sustainable produce she is so passionate about, Kylie learns about the care they take to produce food that literally tastes better. By sharing her simple, vibrant recipes, Kylie shows that you don’t need exotic ingredients to create magical dishes – just fresh, flavoursome food that has been produced in the most beneficial way for us and the planet.
Kylie Kwong was born into a fourth-generation Australian-Chinese family in Sydney, Australia. She learnt the fundamentals of Cantonese cooking at her mother’s side, and went on to develop her strong artistic style by working as a graphic designer and cooking at home, before stepping into the food world full-time. Kylie then honed her skills with several of Australia’s most respected chefs, including Neil Perry and Steve Manfredi, and worked at some of Sydney’s finest restaurants – Rockpool, Wockpool and Restaurant Manfredi.
Kylie is well known as the proprietor of the celebrated Billy Kwong restaurant in inner-city Sydney, and as a passionate advocate of sustainable food and ethical eating. Her restaurant’s menu uses only local, organic and biodynamic produce, and in 2007 became the first carbon-neutral restaurant in New South Wales. In 2009, Billy Kwong won the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide’s inaugural Sustainability Award. Kylie is the author of Recipes and Stories, Heart and Soul, Simple Chinese Cooking, My China and the upcoming It Tastes Better, and has been the presenter of three television series.
Penguin Books Invites us to Meet
Favourite book as an adult?
The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche
Which authors do you admire? Did any of them influence your writing?
I admire the way in which Tim Winton writes about the Australian landscape; not just for the unique language he uses, but for his deep love, respect and embrace of the natural environment. He inspires all of us to be more conscious of our precious planet.
I have given Mitch Albom’s, Tuesday’s with Morrie book to so many people. The way he has written such a deeply philosophical book, so simply is brilliant. I am a practising Buddhist and therefore relate especially, to Albom’s enlightening words on life and death.
I read many cookbooks and the above three women are my food heroes. They all have extensive food knowledge, immense and wonderful life experience, incredibly beautiful, down-to-earth cooking styles, a food philosophy which embraces sustainability and an incredible joie de vivre.
These three women – Alice Waters, Stephanie Alexander and Maggie Beer – influence my writing – I have learnt that communicating straight from the heart and writing about your passion with knowledge and integrity is not only powerful and influential, but extremely rewarding. I love the way they push the boundaries and extend themselves. I love the fact that they are willing to always explore new ideas and concepts, whilst still maintaining a stance on their core beliefs. I love the spiritual philosophy behind their art. I love their ease and willingness to impart their knowledge onto the next generation.
If you were stranded on a desert island – which fictional character would you most want to be stranded with and why?
Miffy, because her character is so utterly sweet, understanding, wise and compassionate. She teaches me things about life. If I was stranded I would want to be with someone who was easy to be with and who was uplifting in every way.
What is the most outlandish book idea you’ve come up with – and did it become a book?
With my publisher Julie Gibbs, the dream of documenting and photographing the remote, exotic and truly awe-inspiring country of Tibet, turned from a dream into a reality. I am so excited to be able to share the Tibetan Buddhist culture with the rest of the world in my book, My China.
If you could give any advice to aspiring writers, what would it be?
Write straight from your heart, don’t be afraid to spill your ‘guts’–this is where some of the most moving and inspirational writing comes from. Be absolutely present and in the moment, when you are writing – this promotes clarity of communication of your words, creativity and a high quality to your writing.
The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche
The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking by Barbara Tropp
Tuesday’s with Morrie by Mitch Albom
Blueback by Tim Winton
Fatal Harvest: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture
What are your 5 favourite movies?
What is the one thing you can’t live without?
A commitment to living every moment as if it were my last!
Free recipe from
It Tastes Better
by Kylie Kwong
Cambodian-Style Fish Poached in Coconut Milk
Serves 2-4 as part of a shared meal
I love this recipe because it is quick and simple to make, yet so exotic in flavour. The galangal, turmeric and kaffir lime leaves add that gorgeous earthy, aromatic flavour so particular to south-east Asian cuisine, and the taste and texture of fish cooked
gently in coconut milk is sublime. If you like, you can substitute the fish with any other seafood, or even chicken.
1 small red onion, roughly chopped3 cm fresh galangal, peeled and roughly chopped
2 lemongrass stalks, trimmed and finely sliced
1 teaspoon finely sliced fresh turmeric or 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon paprika powder
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 x 400 g can coconut milk
4 kaffir lime leaves
450 g firm, white-fleshed fish, cut into 2 cm chunks
juice of 1 lemon
Place garlic, red onion, galangal, lemon grass, turmeric, paprika, fish sauce and brown sugar in a blender and process until finely blended. Add the coconut milk and process again until thoroughly blended.
Transfer the coconut mixture to a heavy-based pan. Crush the kaffir lime leaves in your hand to release their aroma, and add them to the pan. Bring coconut mixture to the boil then reduce to a gentle simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, to allow the flavours to infuse and the liquid to reduce slightly.
Add the fish chunks and poach gently for 4-5 minutes. Stir through lemon juice, then transfer to a large shallow serving bowl and serve immediately.
About the Contributor
While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. Now, as the Director of Books at booktopia.com.au, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection. His novel, The Girl on the Page, will be published by HarperCollins Australia in October, 2018.