Anyone who knows Malaysian food in Sydney knows Junda Khoo. The chef-restaurateur has founded three restaurants under the Ho Jiak moniker (Ho Jiak translates as “delicious” in Hokkien), as well as Amah by Ho Jiak, a tribute to Khoo’s amah, or grandmother. In October he plans to open his first restaurant in Melbourne, a three-level space on Bourke Street boasting hawker-style staples on the ground floor, twists on Malaysian classics on level two and a beer hall with shareable dishes on the top floor.

Khoo’s cooking journey began when he was 16 and his parents moved him and his 14-year-old brother to Sydney, setting them up in an apartment and returning to Malaysia. Khoo had no choice but learn how to cook. From experimental beginnings (stir-fried fennel with garlic, salt and sugar that ended up in the bin), Khoo soon graduated to recipes inspired by his grandmother’s, what he grew up eating in Malaysia and what he saw on TV.

These experiments mark the beginning of Khoo’s debut cookbook, also named Ho Jiak, which features recipes that tell his story, from when he first learned to cook for himself to the hawker-style food at Ho Jiak number one in Strathfield, the family-inspired dishes he cooks at Ho Jiak Haymarket, the more playful Ho Jiak Town Hall and what he makes for his family at home. Inside this colourful compendium you’ll find recipes for “lazy” chicken rice, alongside dishes beloved by Ho Jiak’s diners, including beef rendang, char kway teow, laksa bombs and this Wagyu satay.

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“I wanted this recipe to be a cross between Malaysian and Indonesian satay,” writes Khoo. “I actually prefer Indonesian satay – with cumin, galangal and coriander, it has a strong dry-spice flavour. I’d also always wanted to try a satay medium-rare, so we got good quality fresh beef with lots of fat that would crisp and crackle on the grill. It worked. Bloody delicious.”

Junda Khoo’s Wagyu satay

Serves 5
Preparation time: 45 minutes, plus 4 hours’ refrigeration
Cooking time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients
1kg Wagyu striploin
20 bamboo skewers, soaked
Satay sauce (see below), to serve

Dark soy blend (makes 1 litre; recipe requires 6 tbsp)
350ml Chinese cooking caramel sauce (Khoo uses Cheong Chan brand)
300ml light soy sauce (Khoo uses Lee Kum Kee brand)
350ml oyster sauce
150ml fish sauce
6 tbsp MSG
6 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground white pepper

Marinade
1 red onion, roughly chopped
2 lemongrass stalks, roughly chopped
200ml vegetable oil
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground fennel
1 tbsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp ground cumin
4 tbsp brown sugar
6 tbsp dark soy blend (see above)
Fried shallots, to serve

Satay sauce
Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
200g peanuts without skin
1 large red onion, roughly chopped
25 garlic cloves, peeled
300ml vegetable oil
1 tbsp chilli giling
150g smooth peanut butter
2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp salt
1 tsp MSG
4 tsp tomato sauce
4 tsp tamarind paste
200g sugar
1L water

Method
Trim fat from the striploin and then slice thinly into 3x1cm strips.

For the marinade, make the dark soy blend first. Put all the sauces in a saucepan and bring to a simmer while stirring well; do not allow to boil. Once it is simmering, add the seasonings and stir well. When everything is well mixed and dissolved, turn off the heat and allow to cool. Funnel into a sauce bottle and store in the fridge for up to 4 weeks.

Then for the rest of the marinade, blend the onion and lemongrass in a food processor, then combine with the rest of the marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Add the beef strips and mix well, then refrigerate for 4 hours.

For the satay sauce, heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan and deep-fry the peanuts until brown and fragrant. Remove with a slotted spoon and allow to cool, then blend in a food processor until smooth. Remove and set aside.

Blitz the onion and garlic into a paste in the food processor, then heat the 300ml of vegetable oil in a wok and sauté the paste with the chilli giling until fragrant, about 10–15 minutes.

Mix in the blended peanuts and the peanut butter and sauté on a low heat for another 10 minutes, then add the turmeric, salt, MSG, tomato sauce and tamarind paste and sauté for a further 5 minutes. Add the sugar and stir vigorously as it will caramelise quickly, then turn off the heat when well mixed. Add the water and blitz the mixture with a hand-held blender until it looks like satay sauce. Pour into a saucepan and simmer gently until thick, then set aside.

Thread about 8 strips of beef onto each bamboo skewer, packing the meat tightly; each skewer should weigh around 50g. Cook the skewers over charcoal or on a barbeque on high heat for 4 minutes (1 minute on each side). Arrange the satay skewers on a platter and serve with satay sauce and fried shallots.

This is an edited extract from Ho Jiak: A Taste of Malaysia by Junda Khoo, published by Hardie Grant Books. Available in stores nationally, RRP $55.00. Photography by Alana Dimou.

Ho Jiak: A Taste of Malaysia

$55 Ho Jiak: A Taste of Malaysia cookbook

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