Monday, April 28, 2014

Uncle Boon's Thai roast chicken , sort of ?!

I went to the supermarket last time and lurked at the deli section , saw the price of some cheeses and cringed . Then the wonderful aroma suddenly hit my senses , I saw some whole roast chicken and my mouth suddenly waters . I didn't buy it of course and just settled for a chicken sandwich . Still thinking about those roasted deliciousness and thought maybe it's time to make it myself . Fresh chicken here is a bit steep , 3 pounds for $150 up and instead of buying fresh , which I only buy once in a blue moon , I bought the chilled one for this roast .

I've been eyeing several recipes and settled for this Thai-style version . I didn't know about Uncle Boons until I Googled it , yeah , go Google it yourself lol  The coconut cream and the kaffir lime leaves rub sounds really good while I was checking out the list . It says that brined chicken and the coconut rub before roasting makes the skin yields a golden , crackly skin . I'm not so sure about the crackly skin but this was the best chicken I've eaten so far ! Succulent and delightfully flavorful , even the bones tastes good ! I placed some lemongrass and limes inside the cavity and they added another layer of flavor . Initially , I  was planning to make a dipping sauce ( soy sauce , lime juice , rice vinegar and chopped fresh chillies ) but a generous drizzle of lime is all you need . I used the rotisserie function of our oven and the  continuous turning of the spit makes the skin turned golden all over , or nearly .  

Please check original recipe @ Food and Wine

Chicken brine :

2 teaspoons coriander seeds
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
75 grams Chinese brown  ( slab ) sugar 
3 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
5 cloves garlic , skin-on , smashed 
6 kaffir lime leaves
3 tablespoons coarse salt 
2 teaspoons chilli flakes
7 cups water

*  Place all ingredients above in a saucepan and bring just into a simmer , stirring from time to time to dissolve the sugar  .Cool completely and transfer to a container or a mixing bowl large enough to hold a whole chicken . 

1 kg chicken
2 stalks lemongrass , cut in half and smash the white part
1 lime and 5 calamansi   ( or 3 limes )  

* Rub some coarse salt all over the chicken so as the cavity , rinse well and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels . Add chicken to the brine , cover with foil and put a plate on top to keep chicken submerge . Chill in the fridge for 6 hours or overnight .

* Place a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet . Remove chicken from the brine , pat dry thoroughly with paper towels , put the chicken on the rack and refrigerate , uncovered for 3 hours to dry out the skin .   

* Preheat the oven to 200°C . Rub the chicken all over with coconut mixture so as the cavity . Put the lemongrass and the limes inside the chicken cavity and  truss the chicken . Let stand at room temperature  for 45 minutes . 

* Secure chicken to the rotisserie spit or place in a roasting pan and roast for an hour ( I cooked mine for 1 and 10 minutes ) or until internal temperature inserted on the inner thigh reads 165°F ( 170° ) . Let chicken rest for 10 minutes , take some photos before it gets cold , then carve the chicken and serve . 

Rub  mix : 

2 kaffir lime leaves 
4 tablespoons coconut cream 
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper

* Place lime leaves into a mortar and pound the leaves until you'll have some small specks , add in the coconut cream and ground pepper , mix well to combine . 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Brioche by hand

Brioche is on my to-do list since I started making bread . The only thing that stops me from doing it before was the too wet dough . Most bread books and online recipes that I've read recommends to use a stand mixer or bread machine for this kind of bread .

If I can knead a bread dough that will fit into a 13-inch pullman  , why not a brioche ? I don't know why I didn't make it before ! Brioche dough is buttery and it'll stick into your hands when you knead it but you can easily scrape it from your hands . Using a pastry scraper helps in gathering the some runaway dough that will certainly splatter as you throw the dough back and forth . Maybe I find it too easy because I've been kneading manually ever since .

I bet you haven't seen classic brioche top with cheese , I shaped it into spiral so that I can top it with cheese just like the Filipino ensaymada . Ensaymada is a Filipino-style brioche and Spanish in origin , a local pastry topped with sugar and cheese . I've made Ensaimada de Mallorca few years ago and it tastes just like the ensaymada we have back home .

This brioche is actually a brioche dough for making hot cross buns . The Bouchon Bakery book  has 4 brioche dough recipe for making different kinds buttery bread . I've chosen the dough with most butter ha ! and I'm glad that I've made it after procrastinating for so long .

The only thing that I would like to change when I make this next time is the size of the tins , they're way too big ! It measures 4 by 4 1/2-inch on top and 3-inch at the base , 72 grams of dough is not enough , maybe 100 grams will  fit nicely .

Recipe adapted from Bouchon Bakery 

Makes 11 pieces , 3 x about 2-inch bun 

372 grams all-purpose flour
8 grams instant yeast
9 grams fine sea salt
44 grams granulated sugar
186 grams eggs , lightly beaten
63 grams whole milk , warm 
167 grams unsalted butter , cut into 1-cm cubes , at room temperature 

shredded cheese and sugar , optional 

* Place flour in a mixing bowl , put the yeast in one side and the salt in the other side . Use a whisk to combine everything together then add the sugar and mix well . Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add in the eggs and the milk , use a sturdy spatula to stir everything until it forms a shaggy dough . 

* Tip dough in the work surface and knead for about 4 minutes , spread the dough into a rough circle and place cubes of butter on top , fold in the dough ( the dough will be wet and sticky but still easy enough to handle and don't add any flour ) and continue to knead until butter is thoroughly incorporated into the dough , ( add butter in 4 additions ) ,  kneading well after each . Use a pastry scraper to gather the buttery dough together and continue kneading or slapping / throwing the dough until it's smooth and elastic , about 25 minutes . Form dough into a ball then transfer into a bowl , no need to butter it , cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 1 hour . Scrape dough into a lightly-floured work surface , pat , stretch and fold dough then back into the bowl , cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight . 

* Take out dough from the fridge an hour before using . My final dough is 799 grams . Tip dough in a lightly floured surface , divide dough and shape into a small ball ( each piece is 72 grams ) Working with one portion at a time , shape into spiral , or any other shape you prefer , and place dough into prepared tin , repeat with the rest of the dough . Brush top with egg wash .

* Cover dough with plastic wrap and proof until double in size , about 1 hour and 45 minutes , depending on the warmth of your place / kitchen . 

* 1 hour before you bake the brioche , preheat oven to 190°C . Brush top with egg wash again and bake for 20 minutes or until brioche is golden brown and  the internal temperature is 190°F . Best eaten when brioche is still warm .  

This post is linked to the blog hop event International Yeasted Recipe hosted by Kristy of My Little Space .

Also linking this post to Cook your Books hosted by Joyce of Kitchen Flavours

                                                            cyb12 photo 77951578-1914-4b72-8eda-9e40a91183ac_zps331eb4b4.jpg

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wor tip / Potstickers ( And a blah video on how to pleat it )

So I tried making dumpling wrapper from scratch but alas , my first attempt turned out to be a disappointment . The dough is too sticky to handle even adding some much needed flour , I really hate to throw the dough away but I didn't have a patience to handle a temperamental ( meh ! ) dough that day . So I chucked it out , went out to buy the ready-made wrapper  . It cost me HK $ 8. for 1/2 pound , at least 40 pieces , 2 1/2-inch in diameter ( not really sure about the size , I always forget to measure it ) .  I may try to make it from scratch in the near future just in case I'll be marooned somewhere and I can't find some dumpling wrapper but for now , I'll rather buy it than making a mess in the kitchen .

It's called wor tip ( pronounced wo tip ) in Cantonese . Potstickers are pan-fried meat and vegetable-filled dumplings - shallow fried in oil first to make the bottom brown , a small amount of water is added and then covered . The dumplings are usually arranged in a platter , browned side up and served with ginger-vinegar dipping sauce . When I cook it , I always pan-fry each side before and after adding the water , the skin is a bit crispier that way .

You can customize the filling according to your preference , use more vegetable than pork , note that after blanching and squeezing water off the veggie , it'll weigh less than the pork . Or if you like a meatless version , try tofu , mushroom and pak choi filling .

I made a few seconds tutorial on how to pleat a potsticker . The video though is blah , it was a challenge to make a video when you're doing it for the first time and nobody will clue you that you need to move to the right lol

The filling is enough for 35-40 pieces ( 2 1/2-inch ) wrapper 

300 grams baby pak choi 
250 grams ground pork 
15 grams dried shrimps , soaked and finely chopped
15 grams chopped spring onions
5 grams finely chopped ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon raw sugar 
1/2 teaspoon chicken powder
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt 
a generous dash of ground white pepper 

* Blanch pak choi in a lightly salted boiling water , drain , rinse and squeezed out the liquid thoroughly or put the blanched pak choi in a clean tea towel and squeeze the dickens out of it . Chop blanched pak choi and set aside . 

* In a bowl , combine ground pork , shrimps , spring onions , ginger , rice wine , sesame oil , sugar . chicken powder , salt and pepper , mix thoroughly and adjust taste . Add in the chopped pak choi and mix well . 

* Take one wrapper , put a generous teaspoon ( cutlery ) of filling in the middle , moisten the upper half of the wrapper and fold the into half-moon . Starting from the left side , pleat the seam closed , making 5 to 7 or 8 pleats . Repeat with the rest until the filling are used up . You can pan-fry the dumplings right away . If you're planning to freeze it , lay dumplings in a baking sheet , spacing them evenly and put it in the freezer , uncovered until dumplings are hard . Take out from the freezer and drop the baking sheet to the kitchen counter or table to loosen the dumplings , transfer to the freezer-proof container or a Ziplock bag and freeze until needed . No need to defrost dumplings , you can either pan-fry or boil it straight from the freezer .  

* In a non-stick pan , over medium-high heat , add about 2 tablespoons of oil , when oil is hot , place 12 dumplings , spacing them apart , in the pan and pan-fry until bottom is lightly-browned ( fry all sides , if desired ) . Add 1/3 cup water ( if using frozen dumplings , add a bit more water )  and turn heat down to medium and cover the pan , cook until water evaporates . Reduce heat to low and cook until dumplings are golden brown on the bottom . Serve hot . 

For the spicy ginger-vinegar dipping sauce ( enough for 12 dumplings ) 

* In a small bowl , combine 2 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar , 1 teaspoon each of light and dark soy sauce , 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped ginger , 1 teaspoon chopped spring onion , 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic , 1/2 teaspoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon chilli-garlic sauce , mix well .  

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 . 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Asparagus , shrimp and cashew stir-fry

In some countries , the appearance of asparagus in the market signals the beginning of spring , but not here in Hongkong . We have it here even during winter ! I guess most of what we have here during winter are imported from China  ( as most everything we have here ) but the ones I bought ( almost weekly ) last winter came from Thailand . A bunch / about 100 grams cost $ 10-13 , ridiculously cheap and I just can't resist a good price !

I usually stir-fry asparagus with sliced beef and onion or sometimes when I want a more healthier version , I cook it with button mushroom . Here's another easy-peasy version that you can make in a flash . A simple and delicious dish that's full of flavor and will surely please kids and adults alike ! 

200 grams asparagus , break off woody ends and cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths 
150 grams ( peeled and deveined ) shrimps 
1 clove garlic , thinly sliced
5 grams peeled ginger , thinly sliced
3 tablespoon water or broth
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon raw sugar
1/2 teaspoon chilli-garlic sauce
3 tablespoon roasted cashew nuts

* Add a dash of white ground pepper and 1/2 teaspoon tapioca starch or cornstarch to the shrimps , mix well and set aside . 

* Blanch asparagus in a lightly salted boiling water for 45 seconds . Drain and rinse over cold running water , drain well and set aside .  

* In a nonstick pan , over medium-high heat , add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil , when oil is hot , add in the shrimps and cook for about a minute . Take out from the pan and set aside . In the same pan , add in the garlic and ginger , cook until garlic is lightly browned . Add in the asparagus , stir mixture together for few seconds then pour in the water/broth , add in the sugar and fish sauce , stir , then cover and cook for 2 minutes , season to taste . Add in the shrimps , chilli-garlic sauce and half of the cashews , stir everything until well combined . Dish up , sprinkle the remaining cashews on top and serve immediately .