Her best kitchen tips and tricks revealed. By Dawn Chen
Photo: Audra Morrice
Audra Morrice is no stranger to the kitchen. The former finalist of Masterchef Australia 2012 is currently a judge on Masterchef Asia, and is now also here in Singapore for the Masterchef dining and bar pop-up experience. Audra’s cooking style is eclectically Asian, and we caught up with her recently to get her best kitchen tips.
What’s your biggest kitchen hack?
People are always time poor. One way to get around this and still have healthy meals is to cook in bulk, portion out your meals, and freeze them! Freezing is a good way of preserving your food. Just be sure to seal the dishes properly to keep them fresh. I even cook brown rice in bulk and freeze it for future meals.
Do your two kids cook as well?
I encourage my two boys to cook! They started preparing their own breakfasts since they were six or seven, and now that they’re 13 and 11, they cook their own pancakes and omelettes in the morning – I haven’t made them breakfast in a long time! Besides equipping them with this life skill, cooking has also taught them to be more discerning about food. They’re very aware of what’s considered good or bad food.
Wow, did they ever struggle with eating vegetables?
That was something I enforced – within reason of course – when they were younger. They didn’t get to leave the dining table until they’ve finished their greens. There have been times where they’ve sat there for hours.
Any tips for getting children to eat more vegetables?
I used to hide vegetables in my kids’ meals when they were younger. For instance, I make a lot of wantons, and I’d fill them with both vegetables and meat. When they got older, I told them what was in it, and they didn’t mind anymore. Be open with them.
What’s one signature dish you often cook at home?
There’s no need to whip up fancy four-course meals after a long day at work. Instead, it’s better to keep things simple. I do a lot of one dish meals during the week. I cook with a lot of tofu as we don’t eat meat every day of the week. I like doing a hotpot with soft tofu and a mix of mushrooms and spinach, and serving that with brown rice.
Asian cooking is often associated with lots of salt and seasoning. What are some alternatives to cook with to avoid those high levels of sodium?
Hawker centres and restaurants tend to pack their dishes with sauces and seasoning, but the heavy flavouring can really be toned down at home. Take the classic sambal kangkong dish for example. You can easily whip it up with just four ingredients: kangkong, garlic, sliced chili and belachan.
As a chef, how do you stay slim and maintain your figure?
I make a conscious effort to exercise. I started doing Pilates a few months ago, and practise once or twice weekly. Saying “I don’t have time” is a cop-out. As a cook, I’m also on my feet all day, and I’m very hands-on with my kids when I’m home.