The key to cooking chicken is to do it very slowly and gently. That way, the juices will all stay within and not lose itself to being a dry papery hunk of meat. Especially so here, the chicken has to be braised tenderly, so that as it cooks, it absorbs as much flavour from the broth as it possibly can, giving you an exquisitely fork-tender and succulent mouthful of poultry goodness.
This depends on how much chicken you’re making, but for about two people, here’s what to do:
- Into a good pot, toss two cloves of garlic, skinned on and smashed once, three cloves, two bits of star anise, a modest stick of cinnamon, a good dash of white pepper, a small pinch of whole black peppercorns, and a crack of sea salt.
- Also, add a teaspoon of pure sesame oil, two tablespoons of light soy sauce and one tablespoon of dark soy sauce.
- Place your chicken parts in and fill the pot with water, so that the poultry is just about half submerged. Turn the hob on to the lowest heat setting. Put the lid on leaving a small gap and let it simmer away gently for about an hour, or slightly longer.
- Toss in carrot batons and mushrooms in the last 5 minutes if you want, and adjust seasoning of broth with sea salt accordingly. If having with hot steamed rice, make sure it’s saltier than usual.
Try this with pork belly.
BLT, or Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato, commonly refers to a sandwich. This week, I made a BLT, but with spaghetti instead of bread.
- Get your spaghetti or other kinda of pasta cooking in a pot of well-salted boiling water. Save a bit of the pasta water, and drain when al dente.
- Slow-cook chunky slices of tomatoes with some butter on a skillet, letting them soften to a pulp. Pinch out and discard the skin at the end.
- Soak a couple of rashers in water for a couple of minutes; this is so that the dish will not be overwhelmed by the flavour of bacon. Fry the rashers till cooked but not shrivelled. It can be tempting to blaze them to a crisp. Resist.
- Meanwhile, wash and cut your lettuce to fork-full pieces.
- When the tomatoes are done, toss in the drained spaghetti, and splash a bit of that pasta water you saved earlier. Season lightly with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, and a small dollop of mayonnaise.
- Turn off the heat and mix in the lettuce briefly, and serve, with the rashers of bacon, sliced.
Lush brunches, forever.
There’s word of this fifth basic taste going round, a taste alongside salty, sweet, sour or bitter; it’s called umami. According to Wikipedia, it means ‘pleasant savoury taste’ in Japanese. It’s the taste most common in Japanese food, which makes it so well-loved. ‘The human tongue has receptors for L-glutamate, which is the source of umami flavour. As such, scientists consider umami to be distinct from saltiness.’ So you ask? How and where do you get umami from? Tomatoes.
I believe having tomatoes at breakfast is a great way to start your day, awakening your belly with wholesome savoury goodness, not just salty ham or bacon.
Have them with your sausages today.
It’s been a long long hiatus that I’ve taken. I blame Instagram. Grainy photos behind retro-esque filters and uninspired dishes. In any case, I’m hoping this entry won’t be like the last one – the last one for a long while.
So I guess from now, I’ll be using more than a couple of Instagramasised photograph. Fingers crossed that’ll work out well.
Alas! The first of the list is Instant Mee Pok! Mee Pok (translated from Chinese dialect as ‘thin noodles’) is a flat egg noodle used a lot in Singapore to make Fishball Noodles and Mushroom Minced Pork Noodles. They say the first creators of pasta were actually the Chinese; Italians apparently discovered it much later. In any case, Mee Pok is usually cooked fresh and unless you buy them fresh from the market or make them yourself, you won’t get a chance to have them this far from East Asia. But, but, BUT! I stumbled upon a pack of dried instant Mee Pok at Chinatown last week. Well, it isn’t quite exactly the same thing as its fresh counterpart, but I’d say it comes pretty damned close.
I am a happy boy.
(Follow me on Instagram @skinnynigel or #skinnynigel)
There’s a reason fish and chips exists: the combination of fish and potatoes is quite a thing of marriage. In any case, like Haddock on Smash or Unbattered Pollock & Chips, this fish and potatoes recipe is very much asian – Battered spicy beancurd-marinated sutchi fillet on sesame mash of potatoes, carrots and white radish, with sweet gem lettuce and calamansi.
- Set peeled and sliced potatoes, carrot and radish away to boil. When done, drain and let it steam dry in the colander for about 5 minutes or so. Then, mash with a knob of butter, a splash of milk, salt, pepper and a few drops of sesame oil.
- Marinate the fish fillets with spicy beancurd and dust with self-raising flour. Be sure to pat dry the fillets before doing this. Deep fry till golden brown. Cool on a cooling rack laid with kitchen towel.
- Serve all together with fresh leaves of sweet gem lettuce and half a calamansi for squeezing. Golden brown fried sliced shallots with the mash is a HUGE bonus.
One of the great things about doing a casserole or stew is its versatility with carbs. You can have it with toast if you’re lazy, pasta if you don’t mind the effort and even mashed potatoes if you can be bothered. So the limelight of this entry really is the casserole, as opposed to being a pasta dish.
Not sure if it’s the best way to do a casserole, but here’s my way:
- Pre-heat your oven to 180ªC.
- In a cast iron or pyrex pot, get a knob of small butter in, heating till the foaming subsides.
- Add in garlic slices and the sausage chunks, pork or beef is up to you. I usually squeeze out the meat from the sausage skins into thumb-sized chunks. Fry till fragrant and golden brown.
- Splash in coke and alcohol. This time I used rum ‘cos rum & cola always goes.
- Reduce the liquid till the alcohol has burned off.
- Toss in the diced vegetables of your choice – carrots, peppers, onions, celery, etc. Also, add chilli if you want the heat.
- Fill the pot with chicken or vegetable stock, till just before submerging the ingredients.
- Flavour and season with coriander powder and bay leaves, worschester sauce, salt and pepper.
- Bring to the boil and put it in the oven for 30-45 minutes, lid on.
- Serve with long pasta, and fresh salad leaves.
It’s a good thing to make if you’ve only got some mushrooms in your fridge. No mucking about, just good simple food.
- Toss into a hot pot a small knob of butter.
- Add in minced shallots once the foaming of the butter has subsided. Fry till fragrant.
- Next, sliced or chunky bits of mushroom. Saute them gently.
- Before the mushrooms are done, add in the rice and toss about well.
- Splash in a good lug of dry white wine and reduce it as much as possible.
- Cook the rice slowly by adding chicken or vegetable stock in small quantities, stirring all the way through, until the rice is cooked to creamy yet still al dente.
- Season accordingly with a crack of black pepper and sea salt.
- Serve with a shaving of fresh Parmesan and/or chopped arugula.