Saturday, April 23, 2016

Taiwanese fried chicken

A popular night street market snack in Taiwan , this flavorful dish is made by marinating chicken pieces in soy sauce , ginger , garlic , sugar , rice wine , pepper , five-spice powder and coated with sweet potato flour then deep-fried . Fried basil , spicy salt or sweet chilli sauce are commonly used as an accompaniment .

I can't find any sweet potato flour here or maybe I didn't look hard enough , most baking supplies shops I've visited only have potato starch . This kind of flour is essential in making this crunchy fried chicken .  I used a generic brand of Japanese potato starch instead , the one I use when I have a hankering for karaage . And if you've tried the Japanese fried chicken version , potato starch is a great substitute .

Though the Thai basil crisps are only use as a side dish , it is a must in my opinion , as it lightens the dish and adds a wonderful flavor variation .

Simple and easy to make , this delightfully crunchy fried chicken will surely please young and old alike !

Recipe adapted from Home-style Taiwanese Cooking and Adam Liaw

600 grams ( about 2 pieces ) boneless , whole chicken legs , cut into 1.5 to 2-inch pieces 
1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 teaspoons grated garlic 
1 1/2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 teaspoons raw sugar
2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine 
1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder  

150 grams potato starch
1/2 cup Thai basil leaves 
Thai sweet chilli sauce , to serve 

* In a mixing bowl , combine the chicken , ginger , garlic , soy sauce , salt , sugar , rice wine , black pepper and five-spice powder , mix well . Marinate for an hour or two . 

* Coat the marinated chicken with potato starch , set aside for 10 minutes . 

* Heat oil over medium heat , when oil is hot , scatter in the basil leaves , the oil will splatter for few seconds so be careful . Cook for 20 seconds or until leaves are translucent and crisp , transfer to a wire rack to drain and set aside . 

* Deep-fry chicken pieces in batches over medium-heat , 3-5 minutes , turning the heat to high in the last minute or until golden , transfer to a wire rack to drain and cook remaining chicken . 

* Scatter basil crisps on top of the fried chicken and serve immediately with chilli sauce on the side . Best eaten with rice / fried rice or on its own . 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

French-style strawberry shortcake

I was over the moon when I saw some cheap strawberries  at the supermarket  . I mean , who could resist such a bargain , the strawberries look gorgeous ! The thing is , the Korean and US strawberries that I bought were slightly sour *sigh* Who would have thought ? heh ! I was planning to make strawberry ice cream but matcha tops strawberries lately . 

I've been eyeing this strawberry cake recipe in years ! I borrowed and re-borrowed the book at the library so many times that it's such a shame not to make it . If you've seen the recipe , I bet you're gonna think long and hard before taking a plunge lol 

The reason for not making this cake sooner was the crème mousseline , it contains a staggering amount of butter ! 200 grams to be exact ! Hopefully the benefits of those strawberries will outweigh the calories of the butter , yeah right ! But hey , you only live once hee hee ! Of course , you can use any filling like pastry cream , crème diplomat ( which is really good and has only small amount of butter ) or  your favourite mousse . Since I've been craving something decadent and unhealthy treats lately , nope , I'm not preggy , God forbid , I'm way too old for that lol Hey , at least I used French butter ! As if that butter won't clog my arteries ha ! 

There are 3 component of this cake , the sponge cake , the cream filling and the jelly topping . It may look complicated but it's quiet easy to make once you get over how much butter you'll consume hee hee ! Try to cut the strawberries uniformly , as you can see in the photos , mine are not so . I've use a 6 x 3-inch round cake ring instead of the 7 x 2-inch square in the book . From the recipe below , the author didn't top the cream filling with another layer of sponge cake before pouring in the jelly . The reason for that , I think , is the cake ring is only 2-inch high , if you use 7 x 3-inch , you'll have a more higher cake . In my part , I didn't have cream filling left to spread to the 2nd piece of sponge cake ( I used some of it for the mini version ) before topping it with jelly , though the jelly will adhere nicely to the sponge cake layer . For the raspberry jelly , you can use strawberry puree but the color will be pink and not as vibrant as when using raspberry . Note that when you remove the cake ring , some strawberries will be covered with a thin film of cream filling , but it'll be easily remove by gently scraping it with a paring knife then gently dab the surface with paper towel or a clean tea towel .

Recipe adapted from Okashi

Special sponge biscuit , ***recipe below
1 tsp Kirsch or cherry liqueur
3 tbsp sugar syrup ( made using 25 g and 50 grams water )
450 grams strawberries , hulled and sliced lengthwise

Crème mousseline :

 350 grams fresh whole milk ( I used UHT whole milk )
1/2 vanilla bean , split lengthwise and scrape the seeds ( I used 4 1/2-inch whole vanilla bean )
4 egg yolks
100 grams caster sugar
35 grams pastry flour or top flour ( I used cake flour )
200 grams unsalted butter
1 tbsp Kirsh or cherry liqueur

Raspberry jelly : 

100 raspberry puree
30 grams caster sugar
5 grams gelatin sheet , soaked in iced water to soften ( 10 minutes )

*** For the special sponge biscuit :

40 grams pastry flour or top flour ( I used cake flour )
20 grams cornstarch
35 grams unsalted butter , softened
90 grams egg whites ( from 3 large eggs with extra whites to spare )
80 grams caster sugar 
80 grams egg yolks ( from 4 large eggs )

* Preheat oven to 200ºC . Line a 28 X 28-cm / 11-inches flat square pan with parchment paper .

* Sift flour twice . Melt butter over a pot of simmering water or in a microwave .

* To make meringue , place egg whites in a clean bowl and beat until foamy , add sugar in 3 or 4 additions , beating well after each . Beat until stiff peaks form and egg whites are glossy . Add egg yolks and mix well .

* Sift , again , the flours into the egg mixture and fold using a spatula . Pour melted butter into the batter and fold well .

* Pour batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly with scraper . Bake for 10-13 minutes .

* When cake is done , remove from pan and place in a food-grade plastic bag to cool or use a plastic wrap .


* When sponge is done and cooled , peel away the layer of brown skin on top . Cut out an 18-cm / 7-inch square piece using the 18 x 18-cm / 7-inch cake ring , leave cake in cake ring and cover bottom of the cake with plastic wrap and place in a stainless tray or baking sheet .

* Add kirsch or cherry liqueur to sugar syrup and brush over sponge , set aside .

** Make crème mousseline : Place milk and vanilla bean in a saucepan and bring to a boil . Remove from heat and set aside .

* Whisk egg yolks with sugar until mixture is pale yellow . Add flour and mix well , discard vanilla bean .

* Pour cream gradually into the yolk mixture , whisking as you pour then return to the saucepan . Bring to a boil over high heat , stirring constantly . Continue to beat mixture until it thickens and become smooth and glossy ( about 6 minutes ) . Remove from heat and transfer to a tray to cool . Cover with cling film . Place in the freezer to cool but do not freeze .

*  Beat butter until with an electric mixer until creamy . Add cooled cream and beat until combined . . Add kirsch/cherry liqueur and mix well . Spoon crème mousseline into a piping bag fitted with a 1-cm round piping tip .

* Pipe thin layer of crème mousseline onto sponge in cake ring . Arrange strawberries around edge of cake ring , with the flat surface against the cake ring . Distribute remaining strawberries evenly , then pipe another layer of crème mousseline over strawberries and level with an offset spatula . Make sure there are no air pockets in cream . Place cake in the freezer for about 20 minutes .

** Make raspberry jelly : Place raspberry purée and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil . Turn off heat , add softened gelatin and and mix well . Pour jelly mixture over cake and refrigerate overnight to set .

** To unmould the cake : Use a warm towel or a kitchen blowtorch ( or hair dryer ) and warm the sides of cake ring . Decorate as desired . Slice and serve .