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.
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.
This post should have been written months ago during the Lunar New Year season. Reason being this dish is always on the table at the annual family reunion dinner. ‘Leek’ in Mandarin is suan, which sounds just like the equivalent of the word ‘count’. In essence, it’s an auspicious dish to consume during the festival celebrating luck and prosperity. That aside, leek and pork is a lovely combination.
- Cut up the vegetable to thin slices, diagonally. Separating them to loose strands gently.
- Do the same with a carrot, or pass it through the coarse side of a grater.
- Prepare the pork this way.
- In a hot skillet with a tablespoon of vegetable oil, toss in minced garlic and fry till fragrant.
- Add in the vegetables and fry about with a small splash of water. Lower the heat.
- When the leek is almost completely softened, add in the pork.
- Turn up the heat and stirfry everything together by adding water in small quantities, frying till dry-ish each time.
- Adjust seasoning accordingly with light soy sauce.
- Serve with hot steamed rice.
Right, so I’m absolutely terrible at following recipes because I always try to challenge my palette by estimating proportions of ingredients as opposed to licking the tried-and-tested quantities right off the spoon of a recipe list. The result: mild inconsistency and no record of numbers in teaspoons and measuring cups. No surprise with this recipe, all I’ve got is the list of ingredients.
Sayur Lodeh is essentially like a lovely savoury, coconutty, vegetable curry. Sayur means vegetables in Malay; no idea what lodeh is.
For the spice blend:
- chilli paste
- belachan (shrimp paste)
- lemon grass
- dried shrimp
- coriander powder
- chilli powder
- vegetable oil
- coconut milk
- long beans
- To prepare the spice blend, in a mortar and pestle, or if you’re awesome and own a food processor, smash the aforementioned ingredients in, tasting as you go along until you get the taste spot on. You should be aiming for a concentrated mixture of the finished product. Make sure you have enough for the entire pot of stew you’re planning to make. As a gauge, it should be enough to coat the vegetables comfortably.
- In a pot with the vegetables and tofu, pour enough water to just submerge the veggies. Bring to a boil.
- Add the curry paste and mix.
- Let it boil away for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are soft, before turning the heat down to a simmer.
- Put the lid half on and let it simmer for 45 minutes. This will cause the curry to reduce a little, intensifying the flavours.
- Add coconut milk, and water if needed. Bring to the boil again before turning heat off.
- Adjust seasoning with salt accordingly.
- Serve with hot steamed rice or Fried Rice Noodles.
Before coming to London, my mother feared for my lack of cooking knowledge, and she mentioned in brief this trick I could do with a rice cooker. It basically just involves dumping everything into a rice cooker, vegetables towards the last five minutes so they maintain their crunch. It’s funny how I’m only doing this after two years away from home.
Some vital seasonings would be:
- slice of ginger
- white pepper
- salt and/or soy sauce
- sesame oil
- dark soy sauce
- pinch of sugar
I guess the best part is that you’re allowed to experiment. Don’t worry, any error should be rectifiable with an addition of salt or soy sauce after.
Asian-fried spaghetti of pork cubes, sugar snaps and egg, with cumin, oregano and chilli.
- The usual drill. Set the pasta away to boil in a pot.
- In a hot skillet and a little oil, fry minced garlic till fragrant.
- Toss in pork cubes and sugar snaps.
- Add in crushed cumin and oregano.
- When pork is almost done, move all to the side of the skillet. Add some oil in the pan and crack in an egg. Beat it erratically and let it cook in chunks.
- Toss in sliced chilli.
- Mix everything together and season well with freshly ground sea salt and black pepper.
- The pasta should be done by now. Drain and add to skillet. Stir everything together into a party of lovely colours.
Pork shoulder fillet braised in garlic, ginger and honey north of carrot and red chilli, served on wilted Chinese leaf.
- In a skillet with some water, make a broth of minced garlic, ginger, soy sauce, carrot and red chilli. When the water comes to a boil, incorporate about a tablespoon of honey, depending on how much broth you’ve made. Taste the broth, it should be a sweetish-salty flavour.
- Set in the fillet of pork and braise till done.
- When the pork is almost done, add in the Chinese leaf and remove all once cooked.
This is the Kuala Lumpur variant of Fried Hokkien Prawn Noodles, similar to the usual Chinese Stir-Fry, but going crazy with the rendered lard and dark soy sauce, the darker the better.
- Get your noodles, or linguine boiling in a pot and have your ingredients all ready. Drain your noodles or pasta as soon as they’re done. This is important ‘cos stir-frying is a whizz, no time for chopping carrots while your garlic is burning away into a pile of charred lumps.
- In a screaming hot wok of a tablespoon of oil, get your slices of Chinese sausage, or lardons in.
- Add minced garlic, minced onion and a slice of ginger into the wok to flavour the oil.
- Welcome the Aroma Fairies.
- Carrots go in ‘cos they take longer to cook through.
- Once your carrots are almost done, add a small bit of oil and crack in a egg, stirring it about erratically till about done.
- Then, add in your marinated (minus soy sauce) Melt-In-Your-Mouth Pork, stir-frying it with small quantities of the noodle boiling water.
- Toss in leafy green vegetables and drained noodles.
- Go crazy with the dark soy sauce till it’s all nice and blackish. (Bear in mind that doing this can get VERY salty, so the darker the soy sauce, the better.)
- Season with light soy sauce if necessary.
- Add a generous pinch of sugar and still happily away.
Frozen fish is an sufficient alternative if you haven’t got fresh fish. However, cooking frozen fish can be a tricky task; when done wrongly, the fish can be real dry, and gross. A good way to do it I’d say, is to baste it continuously in the accompanying sauce.
In this case, I’ve done a mild tom yum sauce, with carrots, shallots, garlic, a slice of ginger and a squeeze of lemon. If you’re wondering, the tom yum base was from an instant paste in a bottle just like this one:
- Set the pasta away in a pot to boil together with a handful of frozen peas. Boiling the peas instead of sauteing them allows them a fresher flavour and sweeter crunch.
- I made the sauce by tossing the chopped condiments (mentioned above) together into a skillet, and adding a teaspoon of tom yum paste and an adequate amount of pasta-cooking water.
- Then, I cooked the fish, drenching it repeatedly in the sweet yet just sourish gravy. Nonstop, till the fish was just right.
- Drained the pasta and peas and served with a chilli garnish, for colour and added heat.
Kinda like an Asian bolognese, slightly spicy, and with fish. Lush.
Click here for the original Tom Yum Spaghetti recipe.