29 Dec 2014

cooking chinese

These holidays I have been busy practicing cooking Asian food on most week nights. If anything, measurements are thrown out the window and are done via constant taste testing and adding a bit more of this or that. Usual suspects include: oyster sauce, dark/light soy and fish sauce, sesame oil, shaoxing wine, salt, white pepper and sugar. As aromatics, we have: garlic, ginger, onions, shallots and spring onions. Once you get the swing of things, you'll know how much of each you will need to add. 

Cooking processes are generally the same, and I'm really glad that my parents forced trained me over the years by making getting me to help out in the kitchen (although I was more annoyed than grateful back then). Still, time and time again I still require their expertise and cooking knowledge.

Some of the dishes I made and documented during the past month include: Jason's kari ayampad thai, karaage, Vietnamese grilled beef and beef and mint stir fry

Of the two dishes I'm sharing today, both are special to me in different ways . First eaten at an Asian style cafe, the chicken mushroom steak wow'ed me during my early teens because it was different. It was western. As far as I was concerned, it wasn't stir fried meat and vege or soup noodles therefore special. The tofu dish, I can't really remember when I first ate it (here or Malaysia? hrm...) but I remember my jaws dropping when my mum fished it out of the steaming rice cooker one night. It's silly, but I thought you could only cook rice in a rice cooker...

Anyway, both make excellent dishes for dinner, served with a steaming bowl of freshly cooked rice. 


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chinese style chicken mushroom steak     serves 4
sauce adapted from cookpad

2-3 pieces of chicken thigh fillet
sea salt, as required
white pepper, as required
cooking oil, as required

a large handful of string beans, topped and tailed, blanched
2 carrots, peeled and sliced, boiled until firm
1 can of corn kernels, drained

mushroom sauce
20g unsalted butter
35g plain flour
300ml asian chicken stock (or water + 1 tsp chicken stock powder)
1/2 can champignon mushrooms, drained and quartered
3 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce
sea salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
sugar, to taste

Trim excess fat off chicken thigh fillets, cut into two if necessary and make slits in the thicker part of the meat. Season with salt and white pepper. Cover and leave in the fridge until needed, but take out meat 20-30 minutes before cooking*. 

Prepare the vegetables.

For the sauce: Melt butter over a low heat and when fully melted, stir in flour until smooth. Add stock, mushrooms and both soy sauces. Stir until sauce has thickened. Season with salt, pepper and sugar. (Add more soy sauce if necessary.) 

Pan fry chicken until golden brown on both sides. Serve with prepared vegetables, rice and mushroom sauce.

*I like to steam fry; heat a pan with cooking oil, add chicken and a splash of water. Cover and cook on medium heat until the underside is golden. Uncover, flip and cook until underside is golden. Wash pan before cooking another batch.

steamed tofu with prawn and chicken meatballs     serves 4-5 as part of a shared meal
inspired by parents' cooking & 3 hungry tummies

4 leaves chinese cabbage, washed, cut into squares
1 small bundle green bean vermicelli, soaked in cold water until soft and drained (optional)
3 tubes silken tofu, sliced into 8 pieces each
250g prawn meat, chopped roughly
250g chicken/pork mince
1 heaped Tb potato starch
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chicken stock powder
a dollop of oyster sauce
a dash of sesame oil
a dash of shaoxing wine
white pepper, as required

finishing sauce*
oyster sauce (1 1/2 Tb), as required
light soy sauce (1 Tb), as required
dark soy sauce (2 tsp), as required (optional)
a dash of sesame oil
water (300 ml), as required
potato starch solution**, to thicken

spring onion, sliced, as required
fried shallots, as required

Arrange cabbage on two ceramic/steel shallow bowls. Divide vermicelli between two plates and scatter around the cabbage evenly. Top with tofu.

Mix prawn and chicken with potato starch, salt, chicken stock powder, oyster sauce, sesame oil, shaoxing wine and white pepper until it binds and forms elasticity. Scoop heaped teaspoons of meat on top of the tofu. Steam for 10-15 minutes over high heat.

Meanwhile, combine oyster sauce, light and dark soy sauce, sesame oil and water to form a broth. Bring to the boil. Gradually pour in the potato starch solution, stirring to thicken. When the dish is ready, ladle sauce over and serve immediately.

Garnish with sliced spring onion and fried shallots to finish.

*Bracketed amounts are estimates; please taste test.

**About 1 Tb potato starch dissolved in a bit of cold water. If the broth is not thick enough to your liking, you may add a bit more solution.

25 Dec 2014

christmas 2014

Merry Christmas everyone! 

I don't usually make a cake for Christmas, but I thought I'd make one this year. Not a conventional one, but a twenty layered mille crepe* cake layered with sweetened whipped cream. 

Our oversized pup, Bobby also got a share of the festivities by gobbling down some crepes and strawberries (after doing many tricks of course).

Happy holidays and stay safe!

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*The crepes were sugar and gluten free. The recipe can be found here. I made five batches of the recipe for the cake, with a few extra pieces for other things