In Adam Liaw’s seventh cookbook, Tonight’s Dinner 2, the affable chef argues that even though our lives are made increasingly convenient thanks to things like food-delivery apps and supermarket ready-made meals, there’s a consequence to making cooking feel “optional”.

“Food is wonderful in the same way life is wonderful, and our experiences of food and people are inextricably linked. Through cooking we learn about life,” he writes in the book’s intro. “... We need to be aware that giving away the responsibility for our food in favour of convenience directly reduces the role we have in the food we eat. After all, we still only eat three meals a day. The thing is I want to be responsible for the food my family and I eat. I think it’s important and I’m willing to work for it.”

But, he says, you don't have to work too hard for it - it doesn’t need to be a grind. Instead he wants to help people “make magic in the kitchen” with clever, stress-free recipes that capture what Australians want to eat right now, such as his ssamjang chicken.

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“Ssamjang is a Korean sauce used for wraps and as a dipping sauce, but here I’m pouring it over a very simple butterflied roast chicken,” writes the TV presenter and author.

Once the chicken is cooked, you take a hunk of the juicy meat, wrap it in butter lettuce leaves, add in a little rice and pop it into your mouth.

“You can buy ssamjang from Asian grocers instead of making your own. Just thin it down to a pourable consistency with a bit of vinegar, water and resting juices from the chicken,” he says.

If you want to see someone cooking the dish, it was made on Liaw’s SBS TV show, The Cook Up. Find that here.

Ssamjang chicken
Serves 4
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking: 40 minutes (plus 15 minutes for resting the chicken)

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken, about 1.6kg
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
Salt, to season
Butter lettuce leaves
Korean roasted nori sheets
Steamed rice

Ssamjang
1/4 cup (60ml) rice vinegar
2 tbsp gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)
1 tbsp brown miso paste (or doenjang, Korean fermented soybean paste)
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp caster (superfine) sugar
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 red bird’s eye chilli, sliced
4 spring onions (scallions), finely sliced

Method:
Heat your oven to 220°C fan-forced, and turn on the overhead grill. Cut the backbone out of the chicken using kitchen scissors, then cut the backbone into pieces and lay them in a roasting pan. Place the chicken on top. Rub both sides of the chicken with the soy sauce and season with salt. Roast for 40 minutes, then remove from the oven and rest for 15 minutes.

Combine the ssamjang ingredients in a small bowl. Add a few spoonfuls of the resting juices and oils from the chicken to produce a loose paste.

Chop the chicken into pieces, smother with the sauce and serve with lettuce leaves, nori and rice. Wrap a little chicken, nori and rice in a lettuce leaf to eat.

This is an edited extract from Tonight’s Dinner 2 by Adam Liaw (Hardie Grant), $45, with photography by Steve Brown. Buy it here.

Looking for more recipe inspiration? Check out Broadsheet’s recipe hub.