Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ajitsuke tamago / Japanese marinated soft-boiled eggs

As promised , here's the recipe for the marinated soft-boiled eggs . Chashu will be posted sometime next month , hopefully ?!  Hey , it's Lent so , no meat until Sunday . Yeah right , this from somebody who is a lapsed Catholic .

With so many recipes for making soft-boiled eggs online , stay away for those overly complicated instructions , use a thermometer to boil water , steam the eggs instead of boiling ,  only use fresh eggs ( okay , I used fresh eggs ) use a thumbtack to poke a hole in the egg , yada yada ugh ! Making soft-boiled eggs don't have to be stressful !

I admit that I did poke a hole in the egg but after nearly a minute of doing it and the pin couldn't get through the egg shell so , I nixed the idea . The reason for that according to some , so that you can easily peel off the egg shell . Well , I used fresh eggs and the shells peeled off easily , no snag whatsoever !

I did get some pointers at Cookpad , check out that Japanese food recipe community . Loads of amazing and easy to cook Japanese dish !

The marinade is the same ingredients as the one that I used last time for both chashu and the eggs . I scaled down the recipe this time .

Fancy only a soft-boiled egg ? Don't use the marinade - no fuss , no muss  ^___^

Makes 1 1/2 cups 

150 ml water
50 ml light soy sauce
75 ml cooking sake
50 ml mirin 
35 grams Chinese slab sugar ( or rock sugar / light brown sugar / granulated sugar )
2 cloves garlic , skin on 
1 shallot , skin on and cut in half
1 x 1/2-inch ginger , skin on 
1 stalk spring onion , cut into sections

* Put all ingredients in a small saucepan , let boil then simmer over low heat for 5 minutes . Transfer to a bowl and let cool completely . 

* Boil water , take out 5 eggs ( or depending how many you want to cook ) ) from the fridge , wash them ( if prefer ) . Put eggs in  a large slotted ladle and gently drop them to the boiling water , turn down heat to medium and cook , for 6 1/2 minutes , ( don't cover the pot ) stirring from time to time . 

* Meanwhile prepare a bowl with cold water ( use tap water if it is cold or use an ice water bath ) . Transfer eggs to the cold water and let stand for 3 minutes . Pour the marinade into a plastic food bag , use a deep bowl to hold it . Crack egg then gently peel off the shell and into the marinade , repeat with the rest of the eggs . Tie plastic , remove as much air as you can so that all eggs are evenly submerged into the marinade ) . Let them sit for several hours or overnight . 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Thai-style chicken wings

Sometimes all you need is some good ol' fried chicken to get through the day .

It's the time of the month .....

Nah , that's my usual spiel whenever I have this urge to eat unhealthy food lol

I carted several new cookbooks from the library few day ago and the cover of one of the book caught my greedy eye . Yeah , fried chicken wings in all its glory ! 

I give myself a good talking to that I need bake a cake or cupcakes so that I can practice my piping skills , it leaves a lot to be desired *sigh* 

The decision is a no-brainer ! 

The recipe is quiet simple and without batter or coating . I want some crispy and crunchy wings so I stole this batter recipe from She Simmers . She used limestone water for her chicken batter and rice flour for coating , and that makes fried chicken stays crisp for a longer time . I don't even knew what limestone is nor where to buy it but combining baking soda and water as a sub will work as well . 

These wings are even better than the Vietnamese wings that I made last time ! The flavor is much more lighter , I think the coriander roots and lime juice balances the strong taste of Thai fish sauce . 

Seriously appetizing with a delightful crispy crunch and not recommended by doctors these wings made my day  ^___^''

Recipe adapted from A Celebration of Food

 1 kg chicken wings , wing tips removed I used mid-joint wings only
2 garlic cloves , peeled I used 5 cloves 
2 red bird's-eye chillies , finely minced 
The roots of several sprigs of fresh coriander roots , finely chopped 6 coriander roots
80 ml Thai fish sauce
20 grams granulated sugar raw sugar
20 ml fresh lime juice 25 ml 
a pinch of ground white pepper
Cooking oil , for frying 

For the batter ( Please check full recipe here )

3/4 cup rice flour
scant 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon chicken powder
1/2 cup water mix with 1 teaspoon baking soda 

Dry coating : 1 cup rice flour

*  Place garlic , chilli(es) and coriander roots  in a mortar and grind to a paste . Mix this paste with the fish sauce , sugar , lime juice and pepper . Add wings and stir to combine . Cover with plastic wrap and chill for several hours , mixing occasionally . 

* Take out chicken from the fridge 30 minutes before cooking .  

* Whisk batter ingredients together , the batter will be thin . Drop each piece of wings into the batter ( no need to wipe off marinade ) and coat battered chicken with rice flour , shake off excess flour . Lay each piece in a baking sheet to dry out , 15-20 minutes , before frying . 

* Meanwhile , heat oil , when oil is hot , drop each wings gently . Cook in batches ( but not too many at the same time ; this will lower the oil's temperature and will result in soggy coating ) until wings are cooked through . When all wings are done , turn up heat and gently drop the wings to the oil , again in batches , until crisp and golden brown , drain on paper towel . Serve hot with either Thai fish sauce or a drizzle of fresh lime juice . 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Tonkotsu ramen with chashu ( Japanese braised pork belly ) and ajitsuke tamago ( marinated soft-boiled egg )

The temperature's getting hotter lately , except for the incessant rain these past few days , I'm afraid summer is about to barge her way in , earlier than usual . Since I don't really like to slurp a piping hot noodles when it's 30°C outside , I keep reminding myself to make the Japanized version of Chinese noodle soup while the weather is still tolerable .

Ramen is a Japanese noodle soup dish and is popular worldwide . A typical bowl consist of noodles with broth , toppings such as  braised pork , soft-boiled egg , nori and chopped spring onions are added . There are several variation of ramen throughout Japan , tonkotsu ( pork bone broth ) and miso-based broth seems to be quiet popular even outside the country .

I used the recipe that I've seen from Serious Eats last year and made some slight modification . No fatback added in my broth since I've forgotten to defrost the one that I have inside the freezer -___- Well , I don't really need it since the pork trotters are fat enough for my taste . I used dried shiitake mushrooms and that makes my broth a bit darker . Don't mind the milky color of the broth in that pot , I forgot to adjust the white balance of my camera thus the color *sigh*

Making tonkotsu broth from scratch is quiet easy , all you need is TIME and patience . I boiled mine for about 8 hours and thinking how much would be our electric bill at the end of this month lol Let's not forget the 3 hours of braising the chashu hee hee ! 

So , it's well worth the effort ?! 

You can get away by making those easy to make broth that doesn't need several hours of boiling but making the chashu and the ajitsuke tamago is well worth it . Will post the recipe of them next time because I'm not too happy with the look of my chashu tsk tsk ! Stay tuned ! 

Tonkotsu ramen ( adapted from No Recipes ) 

Serves 2 

3 cups tonkotsu broth
2 tablespoon tahini paste **
1 tablespoon braising liquid from chashu
2 cloves garlic , finely grated
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 tsp mirin
a dash of ground white pepper

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds 
200 grams ramen , cook according to packet instructions

* Heat tonkotsu base in a small saucepan . In a small bowl , whisk tahini , chashu liquid , grated garlic , salt , mirin and ground pepper . Add this to the broth and whisk to combine . Taste and adjust salt as needed . Bring to a simmer . Refresh noodles under warm running water , drain briefly then divide into 2 bowls . Pour in the broth , top with chashu , boiled egg and whatever else you want to add . Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and serve immediately .  

** Toast 1/4 cup of sesame seeds in a wok over medium heat for 5 minutes or until lightly brown . Transfer to the mortar and pestle , add in 1 teaspoon of extra-virgin olive oil and grind ( or pound ) until smooth . Yield : about 2 tablespoons 

To serve 

Japanese chashu ( braised pork belly )
ajitsuke tamago ( marinated soft-boiled egg )
wood ear mushroom **
( steamed ) fresh corn kernels
chopped spring onion , green part only  
roasted nori 
chilli-garlic sauce

** In a small mixing bowl , soak 10 grams of wood ear mushroom until softens . Throw water and wash mushroom , cutting out hard bits . Boil water , blanch mushroom for 10 seconds , rinse and pat dry with paper towel . Slice thinly , transfer into a small bowl then add in few drops of mirin , cooking sake and sesame oil , mix well . 

Tonkotsu ramen broth ( recipe adapted from Serious Eats )

Yield : 9 1/4 cups broth 

1.4 kg pork trotters ,   cut crosswise into about 1-inch disks ( your butcher will do it for you )
about 630 grams chicken carcass
1 large onion , washed with skin on and roughly chopped  
12 garlic cloves
3-inch ginger , cut lengthwise and gently smashed with the flat side of the knife
2 whole leeks , washed and chopped 
50 grams dried shiitake mushroom , soaked until soft 

* Place trotters and  chicken carcass in a large stockpot , cover with cold water . Let water boil for 5 minutes then dump everything into the sink . Wash trotter and chicken carcass thoroughly then drain , set aside .

* In a large pan or a wok , add some oil when oil is hot , throw in the onion , garlic and ginger , cook for 5 minutes . Return back the trotter , chicken carcass , the fried onion mixture  , leeks and the mushrooms into stockpot and cover with cold water . Let boil , skimming off scums that appears on top , boil over high heat for 10 minutes then turn down heat to low , simmer for about 8 hours , stirring from time to time , add more water to cover the bones . 

* Strain stock into a large bowl , discard solids and skim off excess fat .